Category: parenthood

So, a few weeks ago, I was in bad shape. Before I had kids, I was a 9-to-10-hour-a-night kind of sleeper. Nowadays, I can certainly function on less, but I still have a bare minimum requirement. And it was NOT being met. Not by a long shot.

The solution was pretty simple, once we hit on it, but if not for the guidance of a few friends (who, let’s face it, aren’t currently sleep-deprived) I might not have stumbled across this. So I wanted to share. (And I have a few pictures and links to add to this post – just can’t do it from this computer, sorry!)

***

A few months ago, we had started putting Susannah to sleep in the crib in her room for her first stretch of sleep, then bringing her to our room after her first wake, and then returning her to her room when Chris woke us all up around 4:00 a.m. That was working for a while…. but Susannah was getting restless during that stretch in our bed. She had passed the milestone for using her bassinet (though she hadn’t exceeded the weight limit, she was pushing up on hands & knees), so we were bedsharing. She seemed to want to stretch out and have more room; I don’t like sleeping with my babies on the edge of the bed without a rail (or the side of the bassinet/cosleeper) so I was keeping her between myself and Chris, which made nursing from both sides a leeeeetle more challenging. 😉 Basically: it wasn’t working very well.

My biggest belief about sleep & nighttime parenting is this: you’ve got to do what works so that your whole family gets the greatest quantity and quality of sleep possible. That’s a different arrangement for different families, and as far as the Nebel household goes, that’s a different arrangement just for us, at different stages!

So, since that wasn’t working, it was time for a change. I started trying to keep Susannah in her room for most of the night – I would go in, nurse her in the rocking chair, and return her to sleep. She usually wakes about 3 times each night, so that meant a lot of up & down for me. And when I get up, cross the hall, and sit upright for 10-15 minutes, I get FULLY awake. Then it takes me longer to wind down and fall back asleep. The result was that Susannah was sleeping a little better, but I was sleeping less (and lesser quality!). And then, slowly but surely, she started waking up more often, and taking more than just a quick nursing to get back to sleep. Bobbing and weaving in the dark of her room, I would rock and shush and plead with her to just sleep, please!?, sleep!

And that brings me to where I started this post. After a few weeks of THAT option, I was a wreck. I counted it up one morning: I’d had about 4 hours of sleep total the night before, broken up into 1-hour stretches. Not a recipe for a happy mama, at least not for THIS mama. Something had to change again. My gut told me that she had bumped up her nightwakings because she needed more cosleeping time – if not bedsharing, then at least roomsharing. I sent out a venting, “help me!” email to a few of my AP friends, and was reminded of the idea of sidecarring a crib. (Funny how I already knew about this concept; I’ve even suggested it to parents who are sleep-deprived and looking for solutions at API meetings! But in my own sleepless state, my brain just wasn’t functioning to pull this tool out of the box. Thank goodness for good friends!)

I did a little poking around and found a great website with photos and tips for setting up a safe sidecar arrangment. When Chris got home from work that night, we had a new look to our bedroom! 🙂 The two of us switched sides (which was a strange feeling, after being accustomed to one side of the bed for going-on-8-years of marriage) so that I could be beside the crib, which needed to be up against the wall.

So here’s what’s working for us now: I nurse Susannah to sleep (or to drowsy, at least) in the rocking chair and put her down in our Pack’n’Play in her bedroom around 7:00 pm. She usually wakes up between 9:30-10:00 (which is usually when we are ready to go to bed, so that’s nice timing) and I bring her to our room. She is sleepy, and her diaper is dry – she nurses briefly and falls back into a deeper sleep, and I nudge her over onto the crib mattress. It’s perfect – I sleep great because she’s nearby (and those nursing hormones really do help mamas sleep!) and because I don’t have to get up to attend to her; she sleeps great because I’m nearby and she’s got a full tummy & a dry bum; and Chris sleeps great because I hover near the crib mattress and he gets two-thirds of our Queen to himself! Aaaah!

She wakes around midnight with a different sound in her voice – she needs to pee. I unsnap her jammies, sit up on the bed, and grab our Baby Bjorn Little Potty (which is stationed in the far corner of the crib mattress). Susannah pees, and then I refasten her STILL-DRY diaper, resnap her pajamas, and we settle down to nurse and go back to sleep. Chris usually doesn’t wake up at all, because I can respond to Susannah before she gets really loud or disruptive. Again, we all sleep great.

This repeats once more — for a while it was around 3:00 a.m., but in the last few nights her sleep is stretching a little longer, so it might be 4:00 or 4:30. She wakes up suddenly, with a fuss or cry noise that means “I gotta go!” Her diaper is still dry when I unsnap it; I offer the potty, she pees, and then we lay back down and nurse to sleep.

At that point, she is usually sleeping deep enough that she doesn’t even wake up when Chris leaves for work. (A big difference from before I started night pottying! I think it’s because before, she would go back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning but couldn’t get deeply asleep due to being uncomfortable in a wet diaper.) She seems to be sleeping in longer in the morning – until 6:00 at least, sometimes as late as 7:00 (and in a house where big brother wakes up at 5:30, that’s a big deal!).

***

I’m a big fan of cosleeping. It worked for us for about 5 months with Jonas, and then we returned to it on & off for short stretches sort of circumstantially (when traveling, when he was sick, stuff like that). I am just thrilled that putting the crib as a sidecar is making cosleeping work for us again – and that EC is helping us get better stretches of sleep, who would have guessed that?! – and that we’re back in a “happy place” at night.

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I was recently asked this question via Facebook email:

“Your profile picture reminded me that I’ve been meaning to ask you about baby carriers/wraps. Which ones do you like best and for what stages? Etc. I’m completely uneducated but have been really wanting to learn. Any advice you can give would be great!

Thanks!”

After I typed up my response, I realized it was a pretty good answer and decided to preserve & share it here.

Okay, check out The Baby Wearer — they have forums which are nice (and one is a buy/sell/trade in case you’d want to pick up a used on for cheaper, easier to try out a variety that way!) and good videos and tutorials on putting on each of the different styles. But here’s my 2 cents!

Newborns: LOVE a pouch sling. I have used a microfleece Peanut Shell, a stretch cotton Hotslings (which are available at both Target & Babies’R’Us online) and a reversible normal-cotton Munchkin Jelly Bean (available in-store at Target). I’ve loved all of them; the microfleece had more stretch than I accounted for, so it quickly became too loose as Jonas got bigger and I got smaller post-pregnancy, and I ended up selling it.

Jonas a few weeks old in Microfleece Peanut Shell

Wearing Jonas in the Peanut Shell microfleece pouch, about 6 days old
The Hotslings was perfect for the scrunchy-newborn phase, then didn’t fit so well for a while when Susannah was getting bigger, I hadn’t lost all my baby weight, and she still needed to be carried in the cradle position. It fits again now that I’ve lost the lbs and she is sitting up in the hip-carry position, so I’d say it’s worth the money.
Susannah 12 weeks in Hotslings; our friend Erin with Maddie 12 weeks in microfleece pouch
Wearing Susannah in Hotslings stretch-cotton pouch, about 11-12 weeks old
The munchkin-brand one doesn’t come in as-specific sizing, so it was loose on me at first, then it fit really well when the Hotslings was too tiny, and now it’s still working. Pros to that one: available at your neighborhood Target, no online shopping and/or shipping to deal with.

Susannah 6 months in Munchkin Jelly Bean pouch

Wearing Susannah in the Munchkin reversible cotton pouch, about 6 months old


I’m also a big fan of wraps with newborns. It’s basically a 5-yd long piece of fabric, which sounds really simple, but I’ll admit there is a learning curve for how to tie them and feeling comfortable with getting the baby nice and snug. If you’re new to babywearing, probably not the first choice or what I’d advise if you’re only going to buy one carrier to start with. The wrap I’ve got at the moment is an Ellaroo on loan from a friend – because she ONLY used it during her newborn phase and thought I would as well. I’ve used it on and off for 8 months, but Susannah is now heavy enough –and my other carriers are working well enough– that I’m not reaching for it constantly, so it’s probably time for me to send it back.

Susannah 2 months in loaned Ellaroo

Wearing Susannah in Ellaroo wrap [“Claudia” colorway] at Cincinnati Zoo, about 3 months old

Little baby, with neck control: this is when the fun begins! I have 3 ring slings in various fabrics. These are the best, most versatile babycarriers out there. If I had to recommend a single carrier if you’re only gonna invest in one, I’d recommend a ring sling. Don’t get a padded one (ie, that “Original Baby Sling” they carry at Babies R Us) — the padding gets in the way of the rings and a lot of mamas can’t get a truly perfect fit. I adore my linen one (by TaylorMade), and I have a few friends who have silk ones they like. Go ahead and pick a fabric you love because you can wear this every.single.day. for a year! It is workable for newborns too – but because I own way too many carriers (heehee) I just don’t reach for my ring slings at first. You can carry baby in the cradle, or “sitting” upright with feet criss-crossed Indian style up against you, or on your hip, and even in a back carry with these. This is also the only carrier I’ve ever been able to nurse in while babywearing, so if you’re planning to breastfeed that’s something to consider too!

Jonas in linen ring sling; our friend Staci with Devin in identical sling

Wearing Jonas in TaylorMade linen ring sling, about 6 weeks old

Susannah 3 months in loaned 'fancy' sling at Jason's wedding

Wearing Susannah in loaned silk ring sling at my brother’s wedding, 3 months old

The other great style you can use once they have a little neck control is a mei tai. Mine was custom-made by a friend, but a popular brand is BabyHawk. You can tie them on in front or in back, and there are several different ways to wrap the ties. These are also referred to as ABCs for “Asian Baby Carrier” and there are a lot of brands that make really pretty ones! The nice thing about a mei tai is that it distributes baby’s weight across both shoulders, which is nice. And a back carry is AWESOME for getting stuff done around the house and outings like the zoo, the mall, any time you’ll be walking a good bit.

Susannah 8 months in mei tai back carry





Wearing Susannah in custom mei tai, about 8 months old

Heavier baby: I have an Ergo carrier, which is an SSC (soft structured carrier).

Wearing Susannah in Ergo, 6 months old

It has heavy-duty clips like backpacks for hiking have. You can technically start using these with tiny babies, but I usually prefer my lighter-weight carriers and wraps when the babies are little. The Ergo is nice because it has an amazing belt that really distributes the baby’s weight and helps you not develop a pressure point from the carry. Easy on and off when you have a toddler who wants “up! down! Up! down!” — adjustable for both mom & dad’s sizes, plus it’s a fairly gender-neutral looking carrier. Most dads I know won’t wear a ring sling but they’ll do the Ergo because it looks like a backpack.
Another brand that’s similar is the Beco – I don’t have one of those, but several of my friends do and love it. [Edit: I purchased a Beco 4th Generation in spring 2011 to use with baby #3. I tried on a B4G when Susannah was a toddler and couldn’t believe how slim and sleek it felt! Since I’m rather short and have narrow shoulders, the difference it made was wonderful. I was able to get a really comfortable carry and felt like the straps were much less bulky than my Ergo. And in a silly note – Beco’s come with some simply gorgeous fabric choices for the decorative center panels! I couldn’t justify the cost when Susannah was already 19 months old, so I waited. Now that another newborn is on the way, I bought a secondhand B4G from a mom in my Attachment Parenting playgroup. I can’t wait to tuck this new little one in for a ride!]

Conclusions:
The only thing I really DON’T recommend is a Baby Bjorn. Research shows that the way the BB positions a baby isn’t best – it allows all of their own body weight to hang at their crotch and puts unnatural pressure on their hips. We had one with Jonas for a few months, but after I read that (and once I started seeing all the cool carriers that are out there!) we got rid of it.

Hey, I just had another thought — you might want to check the Attachment Parenting International website – if there’s a local chapter near you, they often have “babywearing libraries.” Our chapter has 20+ carriers and we bring it to each meeting so parents can see them in person, try them on, etc before they buy one. Among lots of other great resources, their website offers this article Babywearing: A Natural Fashion Statement.

Hope that helps!
Michelle

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A while ago – maybe eight weeks ago now? – I was whining about needing some peace and quiet. The hardest thing so far in the transition to two kids has been that a significant portion of my day is now consumed with one or both little people pulling, tugging, talking, or otherwise NEEDING me. It left me feeling exhausted and empty and going-a-little-crazy!

My Aunt Linda, who is a frequent lurker and occasional commenter here (and who is also no stranger to this dilemma, being the mom of five!), decided to let me know I wasn’t alone. She sent me a copy of Five Minutes’ Peace, by Jill Murphy, in which Mrs. Large (the mama elephant) is being driven to distraction in her search for some peace and quiet. It’s a sweet book, and it totally brightened my day. I have it propped up against my mirror in our room, where each time I catch a glimpse of it I have to grin again.

And today? My no-napper Supa-Crank conked out only half an hour into Jonas’ naptime…. so, dear readers, that means that I have TWO (count em! 2!) children napping. And Chris just called to say he’s on his way home, which means I may, in fact, make it out the door to the library all by myself as I’d hoped. And that? Adds up to WAY MORE than five minutes’ peace. 🙂

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I got a great question the other day about cosleeping. I wish I had saved it, but somehow I lost track of the text — but basically, Lindsay wanted to know more about cosleeping with our babies and how we got them to stop! Because isn’t that always the big worry about cosleeping… when and if they’ll ever stop?

First of all, seriously, I don’t think you’ll regret cosleeping. If you haven’t already, I *highly* recommend reading Dr. William Sears’ The Baby Book, and The Attachment Parenting Book. They are GREAT resources to turn to when what your “mommy gut” tells you to do clashes with a lot of mainstream thinking. It’s wonderful to be able to point to his research as “proof” for what you know & believe to be the best way to care for your little one!!! I won’t bore you, but he has a lot to say about the importance of cosleeping for a breastfeeding relationship, as well as the importance of “nighttime parenting” for building a sense of autonomy and independence in children by first assuring them that their needs will be met.

But anyway, that’s not what you asked! 🙂 Our habit in the early days was to start Jonas out in a bassinet that had a fold-down “co-sleeper” panel, so it was sort of sidecar’d to our bed on my side. On his first waking, I’d bring him into bed to nurse and he’d stay there the rest of the night.

When he was about 5 months old, Chris started residency and we found that he was SUCH a heavy sleeper especially when post-call that it was a bit of a safety concern. So we set up his crib in his room, and put the bassinet panel up and moved the bassinet to the side wall of our room. I started putting him down for naps in the crib, fully anticipating that it would be hard for him to sleep — but he seemed to love the space! 😛 They really keep you guessing! After a few days of naps in the crib, and nights in the bassinet a little further from me than before, I tried laying him down in the crib at night, and then bringing him to our bed at first waking.

That only lasted about a week, and I had a LOT of trouble sleeping those nights. I kept thinking I heard Jonas crying, and at one point I even went out to sleep in the hallway because I was sure I was hearing him cry. At the end of that week, I was rocking him just before bed one night when the smoke alarms went off in our building. Our downstairs-across-the-hall neighbor’s apartment was on fire. (You can read the rest of that story here.) We lived in a hotel for about ten days, during which time Jonas really wouldn’t accept sleeping in a borrowed pack & play — he wanted to be in bed with us, and I couldn’t blame him.

When we got settled in our new apartment, Jonas was six months old. I was feeling extremely exhausted – Jonas was waking up several times a night, and trying to keep him settled down and in his crib in his room was getting very tiring. I’ll admit – we did go the “fuss it out / cry it out” route for a few nights. It was absolutely, completely, total torture for me (and probably for Chris – and certainly for Jonas, as well). If I could go back, I would shake my then-self HARD by the shoulders and tell her to put that baby back in her bed, darnit! Even though Chris did definitely need solid sleep when he was post-call, we could have come up with a different solution – like Chris bedding down on the couch or our air mattress on those nights, or me bunking on the floor in Jonas’ room on those nights. So my advice to you, and to my future self when we ever have another newborn in the house, is to not resort to crying it out.

I firmly believe that babies don’t cry to manipulate. Even at 6, 7, 8 months – when some people will tell you that babies are “learning” how to get what they want and crying at night in order to get you to come back to them – I don’t believe that it’s a malicious manipulation. And quite frankly? If my baby is learning that “crying results in my mommy coming to comfort me”…. well, that’s a lesson I want him to learn. One of the things I have learned -and continue to learn!- over the past two years is that babies/toddlers are going to reach each developmental stage on their own time. Whether you’re talking about walking, talking, or sleeping through the night – you can’t make your child do it on your timeline. And if you have a kid who sleeps through at an early age, well, great! Lucky you. Enjoy it while it lasts, because kids are notorious for starting a great sleep pattern that their parents love, only to change it a few weeks or months down the road. And if you have a kid who doesn’t sleep through – or at least, doesn’t do it consistently – then you gotta do whatever it takes to maximize the amount of sleep that everyone is getting. And as far as I can tell, cosleeping is a great tool for reaching that goal.

But that’s getting off on a tangent again, isn’t it?

Anyway, when Jonas was 6-9 months old we had our toughest sleep stage with him. I continued to lay him down in his own crib, and would go nurse & rock in the glider in his room several times a night. When he was 10-11 months old, I found out I was pregnant and due to major first-trimester sensitivity, I chose to nightwean him. I miscarried in January, but by then we had already made the adjustment – and he was sleeping better. I don’t know if he started sleeping longer stretches at night just because of his age/developmental stage, or because of the nightweaning, but for whatever reason he started doing a 6-7 hour stretch overnight at that point. I was still nursing him to sleep in the glider rocker, then laying him in his crib. When he woke up (around 3 or 4 a.m.), it depended on my mood – sometimes I’d rock & nurse him and put him back down, sometimes (especially if Chris was already at work for rounds) I’d bring him to my bed to cuddle and nurse and we’d both fall asleep for a few more hours.

Jonas finally self-weaned at eighteen months old. Even after he didn’t need to nurse when he woke up, he still sometimes wants to come and cuddle with us (or just me, most days) in our bed in the mornings. So our path – from cosleeping to part-time-cosleeping to not-cosleeping – with Jonas was a pretty straightforward one.

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Upon the request of a friend, I’m working on a review-slash-tutorial on cloth diapering. I know it’s not going to grab the interest of many of my blog readers, so I apologize if you’re just looking for Jonas stories :p – look for a few of those soon.

There are so many options available in cloth diapering these days. If you’re not familiar with it, the DiaperPin is a great place to start your research. This is not your mama’s cloth! Gone are the plastic pants, pins, and soaking in the toilet. There are all-in-one diapers; prefold (old-fashioned) diapers with covers, fitted diapers with covers – which can be a laminated waterproof fabric, wool, or other materials; and pocket diapers.

Why do you cloth diaper?
Cloth diapers are better for the environment, according to quite a bit of research I found. Even though this wasn’t my primary reason for starting CDs, it’s a reason that has grown on me. As a result of making this switch, I started looking at many of the things around us in different ways, and we’ve made quite a few other positive, environmentally responsible choices since then.

When I found information about the study that showed an elevated testicular temperature in baby boys who wore disposable diapers, I was swayed a little further toward the side of cloth. Since his father is a testicular cancer survivor, I’d like to think that eliminating disposable diapering from his list of risk factors will have a positive effect on Jonas’s long-term health, including his future fertility.

When I first started considering cloth diapering, the big appeal was the financial savings. I got to try pocket diapers before I took the plunge and made my own purchase, thanks to a generous friend who boxed up a few FuzziBunz and all the accessories I’d need. After a week of part-time cloth, I was sure it was for us – but I decided to run the numbers for comparison’s sake. A little basic math revealed that I was spending a LOT of money on disposable diapers. (Granted, over the last year and half the sizes & prices have changed, but this gave me a general idea.)

126-ct Huggies Supreme size 2’s $46.95 => $0.37 per diaper
Huggies Supreme wipes => $5.00 (2 boxes lasts about a month) => $0.37 per diaper
9 dipes per day => $3.33 per day

$103.24 each month for diapers + wipes

TOTAL COST for sposies, birth to potty training around 2.5 years: $3,097.20

My figures below are for my startup stash of small diapers. I wanted to do a 2-day wash cycle, and I was diapering a 5-month old, so I planned for 10-12 diapers a day.

20 diapers @ 13.50* each (diaper with insert included) = $270
6 pack of cloth wipes = $6.95
Wipe Solution (“Baby Bits”) $9.95
Hanging diaper “pail” $17.50
Small wetbag for diaper bag $9.95
TOTAL COST for startup stash: $314.35
(will “pay for itself” in 3 months, as compared to disposables)

Of course, these figures were for our specific uses and might not apply exactly to your situation. The type of disposables you use, the number your child goes through most days, the amount of sales tax you pay, are all variables that might make cloth diapers “pay off” sooner or later. Also, I’ll note that if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t buy the wipes solution (because I found that making my own was cheaper and simpler, and eventually I just used plain warm water).

Jonas grew out of his Smalls around 7 months, when I switched him into Mediums. I believe he had about 24 Ms, and I probably spent around $300 on that stash. He wore Mediums until he was 14-15 months, when I put him into Petite Toddlers. (There’s also a size Large, but Jonas is too skinny to fit into those well). He has 20 PTs, which he is still wearing as a 28-month-old who is beginning Potty Learning. I found some great deals on his Petite Toddlers and I believe I spent about $240 on that stash. So overall, I spent under $900 for a “lifetime” of cloth diapers — and the savings is even greater when you consider that I’ll have to buy VERY few diapers for our new baby when she-or-he is born. 🙂

What kind of cloth diapers do you use?
Pockets are not usually the cheapest way to do cloth. I prefer them, now that I’ve tried several other methods. They are so simple to wash and dry (either on a line or in your machine); they come in a lot of colors (a silly reason, maybe, but it’s fun to match diapers to outfits!); the outer layer is waterproof and the inner layer wicks moisture away from baby’s delicate skin and helps reduce diaper rashes (in our experience); they have a range of snaps which allow them to fasten from very small at the leg and waist to much larger, so they fit baby for months (we moved into Mediums at 7 months and they still fit on the next-to-smallest snap setting at almost-11 months).

The diapers we’ve personally tried are FuzziBunz, Swaddlebees, Wonderoos, Baby Blankets, and a single Bumkins all-in-one.

I highly endorse my FuzziBunz – they are mass produced, so they are beautifully well-made. The fleece inner layer is buttery soft when new, though a little pilling is normal after many washings. I have a variety of inserts for my FuzziBunz, since when I bought them it wasn’t mandated that the Mother of Eden company inserts go with them. I am happiest with my Nurtured Family microterry inserts – they are wonderful, super-absorbent, and have not gotten that “stinky insert” problem once.

The Swaddlebees are a good pocket diaper. They are narrower through the crotch and have a lower rise, which makes them a good choice for a skinny and/or petite baby. One downside to the SB is that it requires a special tapered-through-the-middle insert, so if you have a mix of SBs in your stash you have to pay attention when you are doing the stuff-and-fold part of your laundry day!

The Wonderoos pocket diaper is billed as a one-size diaper. It has an arrangement of snaps to control the waist and the rise of the diaper from teeny-tiny to pretty large. My one complaint about the Roos is that there are not snaps just for making the leg openings tighter. My little guy has always had skinny thighs, so we sometimes had a problem with a gap at the leg (and thus, some little leaks). I think this would be less of a problem if the diaper were snapped way down for a tiny baby, or opened all the way up for a larger baby.

I was given five Baby Blanket diapers by a friend who has outgrown the cloth diapering stage of motherhood. They have been well-used, but are still in great shape, which is a testimony to the work(wo)manship of these diapers. Unlike the FBs, SBs, and Roos, these BBs do not have a fleece inner layer. The inner layer is suedecloth, which is very soft and smooth. Some babies have a reaction to suedecloth, but it never bothered Jonas. I do find that suedecloth doesn’t “give up” the poo when I shake it into the toilet as easily as fleece, but it’s not enough of a problem to make me give up on these diapers. After a couple of shakes, I usually have to swish the diaper in the water to get rid of the clingy bits. (Sorry if that description grosses you out. I promise, it’s not that bad!)

The all-in-one diaper was another gift, and it’s the only item in my stash that I don’t recommend to others. The outer waterproof layer is crinkly and plasticy (though it does have a cute puppy print). The inner layer is cotton, which was incredibly soft brand-new but is now stiff. Because all the layers are stitched together, it takes a very long time to dry. It is fastened with Aplix (velcro, to all you other gen-Xers out there), the edges of which have left red rub marks on my baby’s skin.

How do you take care of your cloth diapers?
When I change a wet diaper, I pull the absorbent insert out of the pocket diaper and put it all right into a hanging wetbag that stays on our bathroom doorknob. If it’s a dirty diaper, I shake the poop into the toilet (did you know that ALL poop, whether it’s in a cloth diaper or a disposable diaper, should be shaken into the toilet and flushed? It’s actually ILLEGAL to throw human waste away in landfills. So remember: PLOP THE POOP) and then put the diaper, insert, and wipes into the wetbag.

Every other day, I wash the diapers. I just carry the whole wetbag downstairs to the laundry and dump everything, bag included, into the washer. I run a cold/cold cycle on my washer’s shortest setting with no soap (it’s just to rinse). Then I run a hot/cold cycle on the longest setting with 1/2 teaspoon of All Free & Clear detergent. (You don’t have to use that particular brand, but you do need to choose a detergent without perfumes, dyes, and fillers which would cause buildup on the fleece.) On my new washer, I then do a second hot/cold cycle at a medium length setting because my new machine doesn’t seem to rinse out as well as my old machine did. Finally, I do a cold rinse, and I’m done.

You can dry your diapers in a dryer (just remember not to use fabric softener/dryer sheets, because it will put a waxy buildup on your diapers and then they won’t absorb liquids, they’ll repel!) or outdoors on a line or drying rack. For that matter, you can do a drying rack inside, if you want!

How many cloth diapers do I need?
It depends on what you want to do with them and how often you want to wash! General rule of thumb is:
6-9 pocket diapers — enough for part-time CDing
12 pocket diapers — full time, 1-2 days between washing
12-18 pocket diapers — full time, 2 days between washing
18-24 pocket diapers — full time, 2-3 days between washing (2 days for a newborn)
24+ pocket diapers — enough for siblings to share (depending on sizes!)

Where do you buy cloth diapers?
If you’re looking to buy new, first try doing a Google search to see if there’s a local natural family living or natural parenting store near you. That’s a great way to get to see & feel the diapers in person before making your purchase, and it lets you support a local business!

If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar nearby, then I highly recommend the following websites:
Nurtured Family
Nicki’s Diapers

And — I know this may sound strange — you can also consider purchasing gently used cloth diapers through DiaperSwappers! It’s sort of the eBay of the cloth diapering world. 😉 The women on that forum are knowledgable about every facet of cloth diapers and willing to answer questions 24/7, so it’s a great resource no matter what. But one of the fringe benefits of CDing is the resale value – if you take care of your diapers, then even after months or years of use, you can usually reap between 60-75% of the amount you spent on your stashes! Of course, this means that if you’re starting out with used, you can GET a stash for 60-75% of retail value! You can often find diapers that have only been used once or twice – cloth diaper obsessed mamas are notorious for trying out every single type of diaper they can find, then selling them off after one or two tries if it’s not a good fit for their wash style or their baby’s body.

I think that’s it. Any other questions about CDing? Please ask away in comments!

*Since I purchased my first diapers, the price of FuzziBunz have gone up. There were changes required by the FuzziBunz company for all retailers, so now FBs will run you $17.95 each.

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Let’s talk toys. The recent epidemic of toy recalls has generated a lot of conversation at our dinner table, at my mommy&me playgroups, and (I’m sure) in millions of other homes. The question that comes up for me is, “What am I going to do about it?”

For starters, I’ve never been a big fan of a lot of the types of toys that are being recalled. Susan Linn, a psychologist who has studied media & marketing’s influence on children, says in her book CONSUMING KIDS: THE HOSTILE TAKEOVER OF CHILDHOOD:

“Play requires physical and/or mental activity. The impetus for play comes from
within children. It is their way of learning about the world. It is inherently
satisfying in and of itself and requires no goal. Once a goal is more important
than the activity, that activity is no longer play. In competitive sports, for
instance, once winning becomes more important than the process of playing, the
games or matches cease to be play. The ability to play and be playful is a sign
of health.

Once we acknowledge the importance of play, it makes sense that
toys—the things children play with[sic]—are also of critical importance. There’s
some unintentional irony in the face that so many toys today are labeled
‘educational’. The best toys are inherently educational in that they serve as
tools for helping children actively explore, understand, and/or gain mastery
over the world. Even if they have multiple parts, they are simple enough to be
put to many different uses, and to become different things in a child’s
imagination.

The recent proliferation of computer chips that enable toys to
move or make sounds on their own renders children passive observers rather than
active participants in play. Because children are attracted to glitz and because
these are the toys being marketed to them, they may desperately want stuffed
animals or dolls or action figures that walk and talk independently, or toys
that whiz, bang, whistle, and hoot at the press of a button. However, because
they discourage active, imaginative play, toys that do only one thing soon
become boring; children use them a few times and then are ready for a new toy
that does something else.”

I’ve written about this before. When we flood our kids’ playrooms with toys that do all the playing, all the exploring, all the thinking for them, we are taking away the most precious task of childhood. We’re not doing our kids any favors when we buy the plastic crap that sings and dances and shimmies and laughs. That’s not what kids are wired to need, anyway – they need real, live, caring adults to sing with them, dance with them, do some silly shimmies, and laugh and cry with them. But now I’m getting off track. When it comes to toys, kids have legitimate needs, too.

For kids in Jonas’ age group, the needs for play are in a few basic categories:
–sensory/exploratory play
–dramatic/pretend play
–social/interactive play

Sensory and exploratory play is how toddlers learn about the world. Kids experiment with textures, smells, sights, and tastes all day long. Toys like sand & water tables, play-dough, art supplies, & bath toys fall into this category.

Dramatic and pretend play are just beginning to emerge in young toddlers. Children start out by imitating the things and people they see every day. They play at families, household tasks, driving in the car, and more. For this type of play, kids need things like vehicles, blocks, pretend food and dishes and appliances, dress-up clothes, dolls and baby gear, cleaning supplies, and all sorts of odds and ends that can be imagined into props.

Social and interactive play happens in all sorts of ways, and often without toys. When toddlers play peekaboo, chase, and tickle, they are learning about social exchanges. Still, there are toys that help facilitate this kind of play. Outdoor toys like hula hoops, riding toys, and parachutes are great. So are indoor things like balls and books. Anything that gets kids playing with (and talking to, if applicable) other children or grownups fits in here.

:::

Kids are ready and willing to plunge into play. All they need is the toys and materials that will support, and not hinder, their natural inclination. Which brings me back to my opening question. We’re planning to avoid made-in-China toys this year. There are dozens of great companies that are making toys in the US – and dozens more that are importing toys from other, more responsible nations. When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my money on one, quality made, safe-for-my-son, creativity-fostering, appropriate-play-nurturing toy… than on a half-dozen quickly made, unsafe-or-at-least-suspicious, shiny plastic toys. I hope you’ll think about doing the same for your kids.

I’m working on some follow-ups to this post – some links to companies that offer quality products; more information from a few of the books I’ve been reading about children’s development, toys and playtime, and a few other hot parenting topics; and our Christmas lists. (;-D) Comments are open for debate, questions, and comments…. so fire away!

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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