Saturday, November 24, 2012

Toddlers in diapers!

30lb stocky toddler
Converting friends to cloth is fun!  A very good friend we often stay with recently decided to convert, so when we visited last weekend, I brought her order of diapers.  It was hilarious to watch her 30lb toddler run around in his new fluff, jumping to land on his newly padded rear to see how soft it was!

When I created this design, I had only my own child to try it out on.  Thankfully many wonderful online cloth diapering friends across the US and Canada volunteered to try it out and give feedback.  And thanks to those generous Mama’s, within 5 or 6 modifications from my original try I got my fitted pattern set to what it is now.  But I still have only my own child on whom to see the diaper in person.  Since first using this fitted design on him over two years ago, I’ve adjusted his rise setting up about 3”, so it really does continue to fit nicely with a growing child.

The two boys together, M on the left,
my son K on the right
This was my first experience seeing my diapers on another child in person.  And not only did I get to see it on my friend’s son, I got to change his diapers too, LOL!!  It was really gratifying to be able to really see how well the diaper fits on a child so much bigger than my own, with room to spare.  While the same height as my son, this little boy is about 7lbs heavier, and much stockier.  It only took a minute to figure out where to set his rise - due to his larger thighs, we determined his rise to be about a couple inches longer than where I set my son’s rise.

Due to my son’s physical delays, it may be a few years yet before he is out of diapers.  It’s good to know that he won’t outgrow these fitted diapers anytime soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Natural skin care

Growing up, we used whatever commercial lotion smelled nice. I remember having terribly raw, red, chapped hands as a child. In my later teens, I switched to more natural lotions. They smelled great, but I needed to apply them all the time to keep my skin moisturized, which, since they smelled so good I really didn't mind. But I still had really dry, itchy skin in the cold winter months.

In my twenties I worked in the natural skin care industry for a few years and learned quite a bit. Those "more natural" lotions I thought were better still had petrochemicals and other artificial ingredients. At the time, my father had recently passed away from cancer so I really wanted to make healthy changes in my life. I had always been interested in nature and natural remedies, and it was time to get it in high gear.

I bought books on soap and lotion making, took classes, and began creating cold process soap and made-from-scratch lotions & salves in my own kitchen. My first attempts were . . . less than pretty, LOL!! My first attempt at soap I discovered I don't like olive oil as a main ingredient - one of the ingredients, yes, but not the main ingredient. That yields a greenish-yellow, slimy, low-lather bar. It cleaned, but it wasn't anything like the luxurious cold process soaps I'd previously used. My first attempt at lotion I used beeswax and borax together as the emulsifier - tricky getting the amounts right, but it did the job! However, it made for a gritty-feeling lotion.

With my mini-successes, I began to purchase better ingredients for the job and have been experimenting ever since. I love to try out different ingredients! There are so many oils, butters, essential oils, and extracts to choose from! And the never-ending list of botanicals . . . I've been successfully making lotions, soaps, and salves for about a decade now.

The best part though, is knowing I'm giving my skin what it needs most - healing, moisturizing goodness right from nature. I only apply twice per day now, and that's more out of habit than need (and because it smells fantastic!). Even with washing my hands what seems like a zillion times per day with diaper duty, I don't need to apply lotion very often - and, a tiny little bit goes a very long way!  The worst part is having to wash my hands in public restrooms when on the go. Oh, I forget how harsh and drying those handsoaps are! Ouch!! I need to remember to keep a small bar of my soap in the diaper bag!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Flats? Why yes, thank you!

This summer, I decided to make 20 new flats for my son for our trips to the cabin - made from printed cotton twill, the same fabric I use for some of my fitteds. I wanted to do this because we only have a clothesline at the cabin, not a dryer. Cotton twill doesn't get crunchy like other fabrics can when line dried, and when made into a flat, it line dries fairly quick in comparison to a fitted diaper.

I didn't think I would like flats . . . but as it turns out I love them! Granted they aren't my favorite for containing messy poops, and that may be my fault for how I fold them - but they are a very nice one-size option. The ones I made are smaller than a traditional flat: I took one yard of cotton twill, kept it folded in half the way it comes off the bolt, and cut it in half at 18". This makes two double-sided flats out of each yard. I lay in an insert and fold the flat to the rise I need, and voila, a diaper!

Flats are also a nice option when your baby needs a more breatheable diaper. While I love fitted diapers and find them to be quite breatheable when used coverless around the house, the gussets at the legs do hold in more heat than a non-elastic flat diaper.

I'm so glad I tried flats! As the saying goes ~ you never know what you'll like unless you try it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why Pins?

I'll be honest. I don't like fancy gadgets that can break before you're ready to stop using them. I have a cell phone, but I don't have a smart phone or an ipad, or even an ipod. Or a laptop. Heck, even my stove is as simple as I could possibly find - gas burners with knobs! Except for my sewing machine and my love of running hot water, I think I could happily live like a cavewoman. Except Photoshop. I really like Photoshop! Okay, and maybe my luxury mattress and super soft sheets . . .

People ask me why I love pins. It's simple really - snaps can break. Aplix eventually wears out. Once either of those two things happen, you're left with a diaper that won't stay fastened. Now, if a pin breaks, the diaper is fine, you just need a new pin. And pins are much cheaper to replace than sending a diaper off for repairs, and easier than repairing it yourself.

Why pins over a Snappi or Boingo? Universal use and accessability. Pins can be used on all fitted diaper fabrics, but Snappis and Boingos work best with a fabric they can really grab. Pins are easy to source locally, even easier if you don't get the special "diaper" pins, and just use regular safety pins.

And my favorite reason to use pins: they give the best, most adjustable fit! There definitely is a learning curve to using them.

* To get the best fit, gather as much fabric in the pin as you possibly can. This helps the fabric to slide around less when baby moves.

* When putting the pin on, get that diaper tighter than you think it needs to be because stretchier fabrics really sag when wet, leaving gaps at the legs. (This is the reason I don't use interlock cotton, it sags too much when wet.)

* For older, more mobile babies, use two pins and place them at an angle starting from the legs and angle up to the waist. This helps prevent wing droop, just as if the diaper had hip snaps.

* To help slide the pin thru the fabric, it must be either super super sharp, or the fabric must be a really loose weave (like birdseye cotton), or most commonly, lubricated with oil. Sticking the pin in a bar of cold process soap, running the pin thru your hair, or even dunking it in an oil-based diaper salve will all help slide the pins thru the fabric.

Pins I recommend: either Prym or Dritz locking head pins (both brands are the same pins). I do NOT recommend the newer Gerber diaper pins. They are dull and a thick gauge wire - no matter how much you lubricate them, they still don't want to slide thru the fabric easily. The vintage ones were great, though! The cheapie pins you can find on Ebay are okay, but what you get is not always consistent: some have a thinner gauge wire than others, and may easily bend when attempting to slide thru fabric. The upside of those is the thinner gauge wire slides thru the fabric easier than a thicker gauge wire and needs less lubrication. I definitely do not recommend the thin cheap pins for a very mobile child as the wire is so bendable that too much movement can bend the wire and pop the pin open. However, they are great for quick pinning on a young, not-very-mobile baby.

Questions? Comments? Feel free! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diaper Rashes

Diaper rash can be a major pain in the butt, literally! So many things can cause it - laundry detergent sensitivity, fabric sensitivity, too much wetness, too much dryness (microfiber), medications . . . but let's not forget food. I have seen so many people give up on cloth because they couldn't figure out or get rid of the diaper rash.

We'd been using cloth with zero rashes for just about 1 year. Then, when Kaiden turned 2, a nasty bright red rash appeared up front. The only thing we'd changed, quite literally, was following (against my Mama's intuition) the pediatrician's direction to double Kaiden's meat consumption, she wanted him to gain weight faster (long story there). Well, not only did he get a nasty rash, but Kaiden developed lymphedema as well. That was very scary; he could have lost his fingers. As many of you know, Kaiden has special needs and we follow the paleo diet for him (which I absolutely love, by the way!!)

One of the things I am exceedingly thankful for is to be naturally very good at analyzing data; seeing patterns in it. And I love to research! (Incidentally, analyzing and research is also how I figured out and stopped his seizures - read his story in my cookbook, Cavemom's Cooking.) So, knowing there had to be something to doubling his meats, I dove into research and learned about the acid/alkaline balance within the body. I treated him naturally and it cleared right up. After a few test dinners, I found out that the higher protein meats, pork and beef, were the cause. Ahhh, figured that one out: use lighter protein meats and portion out his meat/fruit/veg accordingly. Do NOT double his meats!!! I won't even go into how his pedi didn't handle it, among other things. :(

But, we still had this almost constant rash that had started at the same time! What the heck, was he now sensitive to the detergent, the fabric, what?? Did we need to strip diapers? Or was the stripping of diapers making it worse? I tried and tried and tried . . . and it wasn't until chatting with one of my best friends when she mentioned her youngest son was sensitive to apples. Apples gave him the same type of rash Kaiden had every time. Now, with Kaiden's special needs comes texture issues. He was getting a lot of apple sauce mixed with his food - he prefers his food to be wet, cold, and cohesive. I eliminated apples, and the rash got better! Not gone, but better. Wondering what else was causing it, I began to eliminate different foods, and re-introducing them. Kaiden now has quite the list: All fruit juices (too concentrated), all dried fruits (too concentrated), all citrus. Apples, pears, plums, pluotts, apricots, nectarines, pomegranates, mangoes.

As summer drew nearer, we had switched from using frozen fruits to fresh fruits. Some frozen fruits are fine, while the same fruit fresh is not - pineapple and mango. My biggest lesson though, was about peaches. We ate the fruits available - and peaches were in the "off" season. When Kaiden ate peaches, his rash got A LOT better. During this time, we started seeing a different doctor, whom I LOVE. He explained about the sulfur content in the peaches that neutralizes other foods.

So, I beg of you - before you give up cloth because of a diaper rash you can't seem to get rid of, please look at the foods your child is eating (or drinking, if your child drinks breastmilk - some foods definitely pass thru breastmilk!!). It may be easier than you think to get rid of that rash!

Now, as long as we avoid the list of fruits above, and he eats some peach slices every day, the diaper rash is quite minimal - just the usual - in a wet diaper too long, heat rash from the hot humid weather, and now . . .since he loves to steal food off my plate (and I am a total sucker for fresh pineapple) . . .that kid loves pineapple. So we deal with a little diaper rash every now and then. ;-)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Traveling with cloth

Kickin' back fishing
In less than a week we'll be heading to our cabin in beautiful northwestern Ontario.  Time to relax, spend time with wonderful friends, catch some fish.  We have no internet access up there; while it seems like it would be difficult to disconnect with the world we interact with every day online, once you hear the beautifully quiet background that is simply wind, waves, and wildlife, you wish for nothing more than to stay longer. :) Our vacation spot has been in my husband's family for well over six decades, each generation taking care of it.

Our morning view
It's about a 6 hour trip one way. Of course, we take our cloth diapers on the trip! Traveling for longer periods with cloth is pretty easy if you know you will be able to wash diapers during your vacation. Stuff your diaper bag with as many diapers, wipes, and diaper salve as you'll need for the duration of travel, and carry a wetbag in the vehicle. Put the rest of the diapers you'll need and an extra wetbag with your luggage. Don't forget the detergent and any additives you use! Then once you arrive, it's business as usual. Unless he had a particularly stinky diaper, I never noticed any smell having the wetbag inside the truck. I've changed diapers in the back of the vehicle many times when a restroom wasn't available.

A beautiful, mirror-still day
I like a simple, single layer pillowcase style fleece wetbag. I made mine for a wicker pail, but to save cargo room, we don't bring the big pail with to the cabin. Fleece is breathable and while 2 layers are more waterproof than 1 layer, as long as you're not putting in absolutely sopping wet soiled diapers, 1 layer of fleece is sufficient. Best of all, you wash the wetbag right with the diapers!

As you know, your wash routine depends on what type of water you have; the water up at the cabin is much softer than what we have at home. I have yet to get the right wash routine down for the cabin and usually have to strip the diapers upon arriving back home! This year, hoping to avoid that, I made Kaiden twenty new flats out of printed cotton twill. Flats are easier to get clean, and line dry much quicker. The advantage of the printed cotton twill I use is that it does not get "crunchy" when line dried like other fabrics do. We only have a clothesline there, no dryer - for rainy days, we string up a line through the interior of the cabin.  Like planning to leave for vacation, planning the trip home is the same - you'll want to wash diapers the day before if you're leaving early in the morning.

Good night, world
If you can't tell, LOL, I love to take pictures up there!  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoy taking them. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Story:

I'm Anne, 36, mom to two 3 yr olds: our special little boy and his rottweiler, Lola. Nature & natural products have long been a passion of mine, dating back to gradeschool! I've been making natural cold process soaps, natural lotions, and crafty items for several years now and at much urging from friends, finally did something with my Etsy account, which I opened in October of 2009. The original intent of the shop was for my soaps and lotions. However, I opened the Etsy account around the same time my son began having seizures ~ it took me until May of 2010 to figure out exactly what foods were triggering his seizures (nightshades) ~ and once the seizures stopped, his development took off! After that I had a little more free time and began to work on a sturdy OS fitted diaper design; hence the shop *actually* opened in December of 2010. :)

A little background on my fitted design: our son is special needs and with his low muscle tone, this led to a very wide waist when he was at his chunkiest. At 13 months, he barely fit into the largest setting on OS diapers! When his seizures stopped and he got active, first his legs really slimmed down, but still had a wide waist and long rise. Then his waist slimmed too. It was hard to find a diaper that fit around both his changing waist and little legs, yet still accomodated a long rise! I sat down and wrote out what I wanted out of a diaper. Then I started to draw. Then I started to sew! It took several design modifications; but all of that led me to create a diaper I absolutely love.  Now that he is 3 1/2, he still has that very long rise but skinny little chicken legs, LOL, and being able to adjust the rise and accomodate his small thighs is a blessing.

I use cotton flannel, cotton twill, and/or bamboo in my fitted diapers: each diaper is three layers of fabric with the third layer creating an inner pocket. With generous side flaps, super stretchy leg elastic, and an adjustable rise, this diaper will fit a range of sizes.

It may take a bit of experimenting to get the best fit on your child. To find out where the rise should be, lay the diaper under baby, and with their weight holding the diaper down, pull the front forward toward you and then up and over baby's abdomen. This stretches the leg elastic and gives baby a better fit. Once the right rise length is determined, remove the diaper and add any insert of your choosing for added absorbency if necessary. I find it easiest to stuff the insert of your choosing so the front end of the insert stops at the rise length, then fold the front flap down over it to the inside. For smaller babies, you may fold the front flap however you choose for added absorbency. Absorbency needed will depend on baby's wetting habits.

Pins are needed for diaper closure; snaps and aplix are available as well.  Fitted diapers require a diaper cover for waterproofing; however many moms love to use fitteds without covers for around-the-home use for breathability.

Any questions, please feel free to ask!  I love chatting about cloth diapers! :)