Diapers

At a family wedding, one of David’s infinite number of cousins asked me about how we’re liking cloth diapers, and brands I recommend.  I had a lot of thoughts about this, and figured I’d put them here too in case they are useful to anyone else.

First of all, I am happy we’re using cloth diapers – they’ve worked really well for us.  And don’t want you to read anything else about my parenting style in to the decision to use cloth.  I like them because they are cute and cheap over the long run and I don’t mind an extra load of laundry every 3 days and in 6 months Jess has only had two bits of really mild diaper rash and they don’t seem to have blowouts.  No poop up the back, no poop in the hair, no ruined clothing!  Really, it’s almost as easy as using disposables, but thousands of dollars cheaper in the long run, and that’s important to me.  The side benefits about cuteness and the environment and the lack of blowouts and all the rest are great, but for me, the $800 ish I spent up front is good value over several years with probably a couple of kids.  Also, we have not found a noticeable increase in our water bill.

Amalah is my personal guru of cloth diapers.  Her posts on Alphamom and her own site were very helpful, if somewhat overwhelming.  I ended up buying a bunch of different diapers, mostly from her suggestions and some from sales, and have loved some and hated others.

Generally, I have liked the sized ones more than the one size fits all sizes, but you quickly come up against cost, as having to buy a few sets of different size diapers adds up.  We have a combo of sized and one sized fits all diapers, although now that she’s bigger (16 pounds) the OS diapers fit pretty well, so it’s less of an issue, compared to putting a 9 pound baby in the same diaper.  I mean, the snaps meant it fit, but it was so jumbo she looked like a beached turtle.  Because of that, we didn’t really start using cloth until she was over 11 pounds.

We mainly use all in one / pocket style diapers, as opposed to old school prefolds/fitted diapers and a plastic cover, although we have a few of the later and they are really handy to have around.  Especially when you’re behind on washing diapers – one cover can last all day as you just switch out the prefolds.  And prefolds are super cheap, so that’s a bonus.  All In Ones are the easiest, what with it being a shell with a sewn in cotton/fleece/minky layer and often place to stuff an absorbent pad.  (Some of them have attached pads, some separate.  I don’t notice any real difference in the time it takes to put them together or in the way they work.)  They fasten with snaps or velcro and work like the ease of a disposable. No diaper cover required.  Our daycare is fine with using them, too.

I have two favourite diapers (and god, does it feel weird to have that statement be true.  I guess I really am a parent now.).  The first is FuzziBunz Perfect Size diapers.  Jess wore the smalls until ~15 pounds, and then her chubby thighs dictated a move to the mediums.  They fit really well, and because they are sized, they don’t have the bulk issue.  They absorb well, the liner falls out in the washer so you don’t have to touch it when it’s dirty,  the colours are cute and they fit well under clothes.

My other favourites are the Scottish made TotBots, in part because they are so adorable.  I mean, the London ones are covered with little drawings of Tube map and little Buckingham Palace guards and blacks cabs.  Also fairy tale diapers, like Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Piggies.  Squee!  They’re sold out everywhere, but will eventually return, and I plan to buy at least 4 more.  They’re soft minky fabric instead of the stiffer fleece most other diapers use, and so they are less bulky even as an all in one diaper.  The velcro seems to be lasting well, and the fit is great.  And oh so cute.

First in the diapers I like category are Swaddlebees Simplex / Blueberry Basix All-in-One Diapers.  (Same company – name change or something.)  I like them – they fit snugly and have lasted far longer than the other sized diapers.  I bought them on sale, and they’ve held up.  There’s not fleece inside – unbleached organic cotton instead, so they often come out of the dryer still damp.  I have them in plain colours, because they were on sale, but they do come in some pretty cute patterns.

I also like (but not love) using prefolds and covers.  I started with cheap Indian unbleached prefolds, some Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and some Weehuggers.  I liked the Weehuggers but Jess outgrew them fairly quickly, compared to the the Thirsties which still fit at 16 pounds.    I’ve since bought a couple more Thirsties in the medium size (in girly prints) and a couple of Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, but at 16 pounds, Jess isn’t quite fitting them yet.  I’ve also bought a couple of fitted diapers:  Bamboozle Stretch Bamboo Fitted Diapers by Tots Bots.  They are awesome, and I plan to buy a few more.  Really easy to use, like the All in Ones, except for needing to add a  cover.  (Honestly, prefolds aren’t hard or anything.  I just fold the diaper in threes and stuff it in the cover – I haven’t figured out any of the special folds or how to best use a snappi (now used instead of pins.)  It’s just easier to use a one piece diaper with velcro.  I’ve already made this complicated enough, why add more?)

I’m not a big fan of the BumGenius Freetime diapers.  I mean, they’re fine, I guess?  I use them for nights, stuffed with a thick insert and bamboo insert, and she’s fine for 12 hours.  But the inserts don’t fall out in the wash, which means you have to pull them out before washing, and frankly, I like cloth diapers because of how rarely I have to touch gross stuff, so that takes kind of ruins it for me.  I mean, they are fine, and the Einstein print is pretty awesome, but a resounding MEH from me otherwise.

Diapers I hate?  Flips.  Hate them. The liner always moves around when you’re trying to put it on, because it’s not attached to anything.  They technically function fine, and other people seem to like them, but I’d rather use a prefold and a cover than this weird hybrid.  I will sell them to you for cheap if you want them!

Beyond the diapers, I bought a small wetbag for the diaper bag, and a large one and an Ikea pail with lid.  We use cloth wipes, because why not, at this point?  We use a combo of fancy cloth ones and cheap infant face cloths I got as a shower present.  As she’s not yet mobile, we leave her on the couch (aka the change station) while we wet the cloth in the sink, but eventually probably we’ll use a spray bottle to wet them.  Calgary has the hardest water ever, and I use Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent.  After 4 months of daily use, the diapers had built up a bit of ammonia smell, so I soaked them in Strip it by The Laundry Tarts and dried them in the sun and I haven’t had the problem again.

If you buy nothing else, buy a cloth swim diaper!  Swim diapers are basically just there to stop poop from leaking in to the water – liquids drain right through.  A 10 pack of swim diapers is like $10.  A swim diaper good for like, a year, is $15.  And they are cuter.  I bought a matching tankini top, and she doesn’t need anything else.  (Not that we didn’t buy a pink ruffled swim suit, but this gives us options!)

Of course, we still have disposables around.  No way in hell I will I deal with cloth diapers on a week long road trip.  And sometimes she starts to look a little red (especially in this transition to food / transition in poop phase) so we’ll cover her in diaper cream at bed time and use a disposable.  (Most diaper creams destroy most cloth diapers.  It’s not been worth my while to buy a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, for the one or twice a month this has happened.)

So those are my thoughts.  If I was to do this again, from scratch?  I would use a diaper service for the first couple of months, instead of buying newborn diapers.  I would then buy adorable covers and a small pile of prefolds and fitteds.  I would buy a bunch of one sized Totbots and sized Fuzzibunz diapers, and some Blueberries for variety and fun patterns.  A three pack of the bamboo liners for nights.  Maybe a trio of the BumGenius for nights, because they’re large enough to take lots of liners.  Yes to the cloth wipes and wet bags and detergent and swim diaper.  And then, I’d still probably buy a few news ones over the months, because damn if there are not some adorable patterns out there.

I only bought from Canadian stores, in large part to avoid paying duties, and cheaper (or free!) shipping.  The three I used and have been very happy with are Peekaboo Bottoms, GorgeousBaby and Calgary Cloth Diaper Depot, but there’s lots of others, with various deals on shipping and sales.

Anyway, that’s about the sum of my feelings.  (I can’t believe I have 1600 words to say about cloth diapers.  Motherhood is strange!)

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Mat leave is the best thing ever. Or: why the sleep deprevation hasn’t killed me yet

Yeah, I’m thankful on a daily basis that I’m Canadian.  I have absolutely no idea how women manage a tiny baby and working full time.  I mean, I get it, you do what you have to do, but I don’t think I could manage this stage if I had to get up and be at work at 8 am.

Jess’s sleep is getting worse, if that’s even possible.  She’s now up less than every three hours at night, demanding to be fed.  And when I say demanding?  She wakes up screaming, and the noise wakes David, who is sleeping on a different floor. (I miss sleeping beside my husband, but someone needs to get enough sleep to hold down a job.) On a good night, we might get four hours in a row, but that’s less common, and I don’t know what to do.  All the sleep books talk about teaching your baby to fall back asleep, and Jess has no troubles with that, it seems.  I hear her wake up, and then rock the bassinet or talk to herself for a minute and go back to sleep.  If she’s not hungry, she does not need my help.  She doesn’t need my help to fall asleep at bedtime or naptime either.  Our routine is diapers – pjs – nurse – kiss daddy goodnight – upstairs to the bassinet – kiss – I leave and she falls asleep a few minutes later.  She likes sleep.  But she can’t seem to ever be full anymore, or something.   Last night we both fell asleep with her latched on, and she ate for 90 minutes, and still woke up 2.5 hours later hungry.  None of the books have given me any advice about how to change that.  (Sample from one book: all babies do not need to wake to eat after they weigh more than 11 pounds.  Fuck you, book guy.)

I would have to quit my job, if I was working.  There is no way I could be a functional employee on these snack size bites of sleep.  I’m barely a functional human being right now, and I can spend 12 hours in bed, albeit only sleeping in far too short windows.  I’m so tired, and the fear of falling asleep is getting worse.  Knowing that I simply can’t get enough sleep makes me afraid to fall asleep and that’s stupid, I know, but here we are.

Thank god for all the parent and baby fitness classes we’re doing right now.  Three last week, plus yoga, and then Monday a water fitness class starts to make up for the strollercize that is now over.  In a month, it will be 4 days a week including two classes on Monday, because exercise is my happy drug of choice.  And for the fact that Jess is a very cheerful baby when she’s awake.   These are the things that makes this all tolerable.  That, and my new addiction to iced greek coffee.

Jess has taken well to solid foods (and by well I mean will face plant on the spoon if you’re too slow at offering) and we’ve experimented with stuffing as much food as she’ll take at night, in hope of sating her little belly, but no luck yet.

I’m too tired to think of a good close, so here’s a cute baby picture instead.

Happy baby loves eating

A house of tears

It’s amazing how little it takes to emotionally derail a day, even now.  A screaming teething baby who can only be comforted for short intervals.  PTSD insomnia.  (I joke.  But 45 minutes after I go to sleep she wakes up every fucking time, and now I can’t go to sleep because I know when I do she’ll wake up.  So I lie there and can’t fall asleep instead of only getting a fragment of sleep.)  Planning my day around a Starbucks visit (I KNOW) and getting there only to be told that they’re out of lactaid milk, so no latte for me.  A 35 minute wait at the public health clinic, a place I’ve never waited for more than 5 extra minutes before.

It’s 12:35 in the morning.  She’s only been in bed for 2 hours, so it won’t even be hunger – just pure baby sadness screaming at me from the monitor.

It’s going to be another long, long night.

Cars

I realized after talking about money the other day, that I forgot one big expense.  Mainly because we haven’t paid for it yet, but I know it’s coming.

It’s our cars.  And the fact that we are going to have to buy a new one.

Such a first world problem, right?

But I drive a sporty little Toyota Corolla (in bright blue!) and David has a two door Toyota Celica sports car.  His (sexy black) sports car is so totally child unfriendly.  Hell, it’s third person unfriendly period.  The one time I had to sit in the back, I had to sit sideways, and I’m barely five feet tall.  My car is fine for now, but there’s no real way we can use it if we have another kid, because the car seat thing means that the front seat can’t be pushed all the way back.  That’s not a huge problem for me (see my lack of height) but would result in David not being able to drive the car, what with him being over six feet tall.

Also, even now?  Kind of a pain.  Because of the giant stroller, we can’t fit the stroller and a single suitcase in the trunk at the same time.  (Why yes, we did road trip in this car! And we had many many backpacks of various sizes wedged in there, and the back seat as well.  Not particularly ideal, no.)  This weekend, we’re heading up for a family wedding, which is NBD, except for the fact that my mother in law will drive up to Calgary, and then head up with us to the wedding.  Three adults and a baby in a car with no trunk space to speak of?  And not a large backseat, and the adult has to sit behind long-legged David, due to the car seat set up?  Super awesome!

So we will trade in one of the cars.  The only question now is which one.  Mine is a 2009 with like, 25k on it, and David’s is a 2005 with 45k.  Mine would have higher resale, but the longer we wait on selling his, the more it depreciates, so should it go first?  Or can we get away with one family car and keep the sexy little sports car?  We figure we have at least until next summer, maybe next fall, before it’s pressing.  Even if we do a Yellowstone roadtrip next summer, Jess will be old enough to just use a small umbrella stroller by then, instead of the Graco beast we have now.  (Buying us room for a tent and a suitcase or three.)

We will, however, NOT be buying a minivan.  We have a no minivan deal.  I’ll be pushing for the smallest crossover we can find, and he’ll be pushing for a medium sized crossover.  I think we’ll probably be able to find a compromise that works, right?

(Please feel free to tell me that I totally don’t need a bigger car.  But then you have to find me a car seat that doesn’t take up so much seat depth.  And doesn’t cost a thousand dollars, ugh.)

All about the money

One of our friends is always, always complaining about how expensive having a kid is.  For my entire pregnancy, every time we’d see her, she’d mention how expensive having a kid is, and to enjoy our money while it lasted, and so on.  It was (is) kind of annoying, but it did prompt us to pay a little attention to how much we actually spent.  And the answer?  Not that much, in fact!  I mean, she’s only six months old, and I know we have years of stuff ahead of us?  But it’s not been that bad.
Birth etc:

  • $200 for 10 week birth and babies class
  • $40 for parking at hospital for week I was there
  • $0 for my private room (I don’t know why we never got billed – I think maybe they felt bad about the fact that bad nursing caused the baby problems.  I’m not worried – the bill was only going to be $120 anyways.)
  • $700 for doula.  I’m not comfortable talking about it over the internet, but I will say that if/when we have another kid, we will not be getting a doula.  It was okay, just.  Well.  Yeah.  Not a story for the internet.

Baby gear:

  • $400 for stroller and car seat system
  • $70 for new crib mattress for our house.  Hand me down mattresses with the grandparents was fine with me, but I wanted a new one for her usual bed.
  • $170 for swing (so so worth it for the first 4 months.  Still nice, but not as much of a need.)
  • $25 for high chair
  • $50 bouncy seat
  • $60 storage unit for nusery

Diapers:

  • $800.  Yes, this has totally been my big splurge.  But these diapers, spread over two years, over two kids?  Totally cost effective in the long run.  And I haven’t noticed any difference in our water bill.  This also counts cloth wipes, a wet bag and a travel bag.

Clothing:

  • $100, give or take.  A few onsies, a cute tutu, some Flames shirts, a mexican-esque skirt, a little stripey dress.  Some socks.

Toys:

  • $100, let’s say.  Some Lamaze toys (Captain Calamari is the best), a few things from Ikea, a cheap mirror, a bin and toy box for storage.

That brings us to $2715.  Take away the doula and it’s 2k.  I’m absolutely sure that I’m missing things – like, say, the fun knobs I bought for the dresser I refinished for the nursery, or the little hair elastics I bought to attempt tiny silly ponytails.  But still, 3k spread out over more than 9 months?  Honestly, the extra $350/month hasn’t been that noticed, in our budget.

Now.  To make this work, we have obviously been the recipients of incredible generosity.  We’re about dead middle of the pack in our family and friends.  Half have had their kids and are done and have hand me downs to give, and the other half can’t resist the allure of tiny onesies and hooded bath towels.  We’ve been given an exersaucer, a bumbo, two playmats, three cribs (two live with different grandparents), a glide rocker, all the clothing we could need until she’s at least 18 months old (new and hand me downs), a bassinet, old school baby monitor (no video monitor for us), bed sheets, a bath tub, toys, baby scale (we laughed, but it’s been kind of handy), books (so many books), toiletries, Halloween costumes (this year and next), blankets (so many blankets!), and more I’m probably forgetting.  (I guess another expense would be thank you cards and postage, something I’ve been surprisingly diligent about sending out.)

Also, it means that we don’t really care about the esthetics of it all.  The nursery was done on the cheap (oops, more expenses to add).  3 cans of paint, and my sister provided the labour as her Christmas present to us.  $40 of wall stickers (clouds).  A couple of ikea lights.  The knobs for the dresser that I refinished, which belonged to my dad, and before him my grandparents (and before them, Mount Royal College dorm room in the 60s, by the inscriptions on the side of one of the drawers).  The bookshelf was made by my father in law years ago, for David’s first apartment.  The change table is from a different set than the crib, which is a different wood that the bookshelf, dresser or glide rocker.  I simply don’t care.

Sky-themed nursery. I use the word “theme” very, very loosely.

It’s the same with the clothing.  Some of it absolutely not in my taste, not things I would buy.  But will I use them?  Of course I will!  Does it matter what the baby’s pjs look like, if they are warm?  No.  Do I dress her in the outfits I like when we’re going out, and leave the ones I’m meh about for wear around the home?  Yes.  But at the end of the day, a onesie is a onesie, and she’s totally going to drool on it either way.

I love this oh-so-nerdy onesie.  Captain J!

Look, it’s totally true that kids cost money.  But not ALL the money.  I don’t feel that we’re going broke over here, on our 1 and 1/3 income.  (My EI is less than half my take home pay.)  In fact, we’ve UPPED our monthly savings in a few different places.  (Not having to renovate helps the budget.)  I just want to say that kids don’t have to cost a fortune, if you don’t want them do.  There are totally things from even this short list we could easily have cut out (doula, baby classes, impulse clothing purchase).  We’re also planning on eventually having a second kid, and that means a lot of this stuff will get used again, before it is passed along to some friend or family member who can use it.  Pay it forwards, and all that.

But the cost is probably worth it.  I mean, she’s kind of cute, and I think we’ll have to keep her, even if it costs us money.

And bananas.