Our Baby Class

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 7: Final Thoughts

The sun has set on Day 7 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  Baby Boy and Little Girl are asleep in their receiving blanket flats and the rest of the last round of diapers are in the bucket ready to be handwashed in the morning.

Here are my final thoughts:
I love flats.  My husband, it turns out, really likes them too.  They are going into regular use now at our house.  I love going coverless with flats.  I love being able to repurpose other things into diapers. I'm glad I learned how to handwash.

I'm also really thankful for my washing machine and dryer.  Last night, I fell asleep before washing diapers and felt stressed all day that they wouldn't dry in time, even with ironing and fans blowing, because of high humidity and rainy weather.

I do feel like I can recommend flats and handwashing as a totally workable solution for those who are on a tight budget.  It took me about 20 minutes after bedtime each night to get the diapers washed and hung to dry--far less time than using the washer and dryer.  I learned that receiving blankets work great as an overnight solution for heavy wetters--although I will be going back to using my fitteds for nighttime.

My "stash" of 22 diapers was sufficient, as long as I washed every day.  I did have to make one adjustment: Little Girl soaked through her receiving blanket and cover the first night, so I pulled out an extra wool cover for her.  Although I didn't use it for this challenge (because it was dirty), I do have an upcycled wool cover, and I have used wool longies made from sweaters in the past--that makes even wool an affordable option.  Washing wool today felt like less of a big deal when I was already washing all the other diapers by hand.

Tomorrow morning, I'm filling the diaper bag with flats.  And when I come home, I'm going to throw them in the diaper pail to be washed in the washing machine--every other day.

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 6: Flat Style

If you do a YouTube search for "flat diaper folds," you will end up with over 5,000 results.  There a dizzying array of choices for folding diapers: airplane, anteater, diaper bag, origami, Jo's fold...it can feel overwhelming to try to choose where to start.  

To be honest, I haven't tried them all.  I went through a couple of videos and tried my hand at a few:
  • Trifold
  • Triangle
  • Bikini Twist
  • Angel Wings
  • Kite
  • Airplane Fold
  • Origami
  • Diaper Bag

I'd already been doing the Diaper Bag fold when I used flat, so that was an easy choice for the challenge.  They stay folded well in the diaper bag (thus the name) and are easy to put on.  The trifold (also known as a padfold) works just the way we use prefold diapers on our toddler (and baby, now that solid foods have been introduced). After watching a video of Norland College, the premiere nanny school in England, I decided to try out the fold they use: Origami.  

Like I said, there are plenty of YouTube videos that walk you through, step by step, but I decided to do photo instructions for my three favorite folds.  That way you can learn even if you are stuck with a sleeping baby!

All folds start with the flat diaper open on the table.  

Diaper Bag Fold

For smaller babies or very large flats, start by folding up the bottom third.  This is also great if you have boys or tummy sleepers, as it adds another layer of absorbency in the front.  

Fold in the left edge, bringing it to the middle. 

Bring the right edge to the middle. 

Fold up the bottom again so that the diaper's rise will fit your baby (usually up to around the belly button).

Bring in the bottom left to the middle. 

Bring the bottom right into the middle, overlapping the left edge. 

When you put diaper on your baby, fold the bottom up between baby's legs...

...bring in one wing from the left...

...and the other from the right. 

Use a Snappi or pins to secure the diaper.

For added security against blowouts, roll the edges of the legs in (see arrows). 

Trifold or Padfold

Start with the diaper open, as before. 

Fold the diaper into thirds, horizontally

Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. 

Fold the diaper in half. 

Lay the diaper in a cover. If the cover has flaps, you can tuck in the edges. If it's too long, fold down the back or front (front for boys/tummy sleepers, back for girls). 

Origami Fold

I ended up not preferring this fold during the day, but it worked out great for nighttime because I was able to boost the absorbency with a receiving blanket. 

Fold the bottom edge to meet the top edge.

Fold the left edge over to the right, so you now have the flat folded into quarters. 

Grab the top layer at the top right corner and pull it straight left.

You'll end up with a triangle over a square, like this. 

Flip the whole thing over. 

Grab the left edge of the square and fold it in half or thirds. 

If you are going to add a layer of absorbency, lay it in the middle before folding over the square.

You can tuck the edges under your booster layer. 

Here you can see how thick that center layer is for nighttime

Bring up the bottom edge.

And fold over the wings. 

For a smaller baby, roll down the back edge before putting it on baby. 

As with diaper bag fold, you can roll in the legs for added protection. 

Here you have all three folds, shown ready to go.  I fold all of my flats ahead of time. That way, when I have a squirmy baby on my hands, I can make the diaper change as quickly as possible.  Left to right: padfold/trifold, origami, and diaper bag fold. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 5: Wash Routine

Wash routine is the biggest part of the challenge for me this week. I've used flats before, although never full time, and I like them.  But hand washing diapers? It wasn't something I'd ever done before.
Luckily, Kimberly Rosas at Dirty Diaper Laundry, who started the challenge, did a great video on creating and using a camp washer.  I followed her directions and worked on finding a wash routine that worked for me.  She also inspired me to make my first ever (edited) video.

In case you are currently nursing or otherwise unable to watch a video, here's the rundown. 

1) I soak my diapers throughout the day, in a bucket with a firmly attached lid.  To save water, I use the leftover rinse water from the night before.  This is the old school way of dealing with dirty diapers.  (The rest of the time, I use a dry pail lined with a wet bag).  Before putting the diapers in the pail, I give them a quick rinse (even the ones with just pee).  
2) Agitate the rinse water for a couple of minutes. 
3) Drain out the water as completely as possible. 
4) Add hot water and about a tablespoon of castile soap. Use enough water to make a "soup." 
5) Use the plunger to agitate for another 5-10 minutes.  I find that I went back and forth on using the lid.  6) Pour off the dirty wash water. 
7) Use cold water to rinse the diapers, both in the bucket and with running water for each diaper. 
8) Wring and hang to dry. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Flats Challenge Day 4: On the Go

I actually looked forward to posting about being out and about with flats for this challenge.  Although I don't use flats full time, they are one of my favorites for the diaper bag.  

I wrote a little bit about this in my comparison of Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags. I can fit everything for one diaper change in my Ju-Ju-Be Quick if I use flats, which take up about the same room as dry disposables.  With my big mommy wallet, flats are the only cloth diaper that fit well in this bag.
This is my favorite diaper bag for running errands or going out for a couple of hours.  It's called the Ju-Ju-Be Light, and here it is, all ready to go. It's a nice lightweight bag and super cute to boot.  With flats, I have plenty of room for everything that I need. I can fit three (or more) diaper changes, along with everything I need for the toddler and my own personal items.  It looks a little bit different depending on my needs for that day.  But no matter what's inside, I always feel a little more classy when I carry this bag.  

 On Monday, I headed out for a morning appointment and lunch date.  Little girl was sick and so was her daddy, so I left them at home recuperating and watching Disney movies.  With just baby boy, I was able to travel quite lightly.

  • Change of clothes
  • Wetbag
  • Wipe solution
  • Cloth wipes
  • Diaper cream
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Two clean covers
  • Three flats
In the outer pockets of the diaper bag, I was able to stuff my wallet, phone, keys, and a Moleskin notebook.  The flats are folded in the well-named "diaper bag fold," which happens to be my favorite. 

While I was out, I needed to change baby boy in the back of our car--somewhat dirty from hauling plants.  No problem! I shook out one of the diapers and laid it flat--instant changing mat.  Need to wipe baby boy's runny nose?  Spare flat to the rescue.  We're largely beyond the spit-up phase, but, flats work great as burp cloths too.  They are the most versatile option for your diaper bag.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 3: Open Prompt, or A Historian's Thoughts

Welp, it's day 3 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and for us in the blogosphere, that means we had a choice on our blog topic for the day.  Some people are writing about using flats in daycare and others are writing about the reaction of other caregivers. But, my mind keeps going around the idea that flats are THE diaper of history (at least Western history).  A discussion popped on on Facebook about how the challenge reminded some of us of scenes from "Call the Midwife," the British show about mid-20th century midwives in working class London.  On top of that, I've been thinking about Kimberly Rosas' recent post about vintage diapers.

"There was a clear and obvious disdain for the waterproof covers; it was inferred that parents using them full time were lazy and cared more for their own convenience than their child’s." 

In images of diapered children from the time before disposables, few are wearing any sort of cover over their diapers.  In "Call the Midwife," the babies wear "terry squares," which are the flats still common in the UK today.  In fact, Princess Charlotte will be wearing terry squares folded origami style.

In my own life as a historian, I've done a bit of reading about 18th century cloth diapering.  And although I did find the use of wool "flannel squares" to be worn over the diaper, these were not shaped diaper covers such as we would use today.  Nor were they used universally, as some deemed covering diapers an unsanitary practice.

Although I'm well acquainted with the waterproofing properties of wool, when I imagined leaving baby completely coverless, I have to admit that I imagined pee everywhere.  Then, during this challenge, I enjoyed seeing the cute flats that I had bought, and thought--what the heck? I have hardwood floors, I'm already potty-training a toddler, and it's 80 degrees.  Let's go coverless and see what happens.

Cuteness.  That's what happens.  I've been using the diaper bag fold (more on folds in a future post) with the excess fabric around the legs rolled in.  The rolling creates a tighter seal, hopefully preventing any escapes of less than solid waste.  So far, it's been doing an excellent job--even better than my prefolds.  He hasn't let loose while coverless, but none of my covers have gotten dirty yet.

But what about the pee?

Well, they are surprisingly absorbent.  I do need to be mindful and check frequently.  But we have had no crazy leaks.  As soon as there is the slightest hint of dampness, he gets a diaper change.  And really, that's probably a good thing!  With something thicker, like a terry square, you'd have even longer between changes.

Thinking back to how babies spent their time through history--Western babies have spent a lot of time in cradles and then prams.  This means that compression leaks were less likely, and a waterproof cover (wool or rubber) would be primarily used when baby was on furniture or being held, to protect from inadvertent leaks.

How about for the modern lifestyle?  Modern life is frequently hectic.  It might not always be easy to check regularly before the fabric soaks through.  As a babywearer, I'm not going to wrap my baby without some kind of cover.  Well, I take that back, I did put him up on my back in a buckle carrier for a few minutes yesterday. I did keep reaching back to feel the diaper though.  Still, when I'm at home, especially when it's warm, I think I might keep going coverless. It's definitely better for his skin.

Photo notes: Little Boy is wearing a modern wool cover in both photographs, both because of my previous fear of going cover free and because his diaper was fastened with a Snappi instead of straight pins.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 2: The Stash

The Washer
In the spirit of the challenge, I tried not to buy much, but ended up “splurging” a little bit.

First of all, I wanted to make the camp washer.  My husband already had the drill bit that he needed, so I just had to buy the plunger, bucket, and lid.  

Camp Washer:
Plunger: $2.98 (Wal-Mart)
5 Gallon Bucket: $2.97 (Home Depot)
Lid: $1.68 (Home Depot)

Total: $7.63

The Stash

The Diapers:
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a host site for Share the Love, a cloth diaper donation bank.  Our recipients receive the equivalent of 15 diapers changes. One cover and three inserts is equivalent to 3 changes. That means, if I were handing out flats, my recipient would receive 15 flats and 5 covers for each child in diapers.  I wanted to try to stick to this fairly closely, keeping in mind how a recipient might be able to supplement if they needed to.  

I already had 6 Osocozy flats, 1 Hemp Babies flat (I think I paid $8 for it), and 7 cotton flannel receiving blankets (four were baby shower gifts and three were picked up for a quarter each at a yard sale when I was pregnant).  I made one more flat out of some flannel that I had leftover from a sewing project.  For the challenge, I bought one 5-pack of flour sack towels for $4.88 and splurged on two “pretty” flour sack towels at Wal-Mart for $2.78 each. That brings my total “stash” to 22 diapers for my two kiddos. My daughter will be using four of the receiving blankets for naps and nighttime use.    

As for the covers, I previously picked up three Thirsties covers for $10 at a consignment sale, and one Econobum cover came in a mystery pack with my OsoCozy flats for a total of $18.95.  And to round it out for my son, I have two Flip covers that I bought used for $9 each.  I also have a Blueberry cover that I bought for $0.25 at a cloth diaper swap and two WAHM covers that were $12 total. I’ll be using those for my daughter, since she is only in diapers for naps and nighttime.  Finally, for nighttime, I’ll be using two wool covers for my son the heavy wetter. I bought them when my daughter was a newborn.  I think I paid about $29 each for them, making them the most expensive part of this venture.

Changing Station at the Ready

Total Diaper Cost for Two Kiddos: $136.39 ($78.39 without the price of the wool covers). It sounds like a lot, but it's been purchased over two and a half years. That means the cost comes to $4.50/month.

(The only things I purchased specifically for the challenge were the flour sack cloths and the materials for the camp washer.  I purchased the flour sack cloths so I could share my experiences with them).