6.02.2010

One Year of Cloth Diapering and the Return of Baby Wearing

Anyone who has read my blog for any extended period of time knows that I began the great adventure of cloth diapering in March of 2009. The following post is basically a book, so consider yourself forewarned! :)

I never thought I'd be one of those cloth diapering mamas, but as I met new people through a local moms group, I met several ladies who chose to cloth diaper their children. Thanks to the generosity of a few friends, I had the opportunity to try out some various cloth diapers before opting to take the plunge. I had the best and worst experiences during this trial phase, so I believed I knew what I was up against when we made our first BumGenius 3.0 order.

Many of my readers inquired about how cloth diapering was going and did I still like it a few months later, etc. So, after about 14 months of cloth diapering here is the long and short of my experience...

I read that just because one type of cloth diaper works for one child, that doesn't mean it will work for another. This was the case for us. We bought about 18 or so BumGenius 3.0 diapers and I really liked them as they pretty much functioned the same as a 'sposie.

The BG3.0s have pretty much always worked great for Patrick. But, around the time Erin started walking, her legs thinned down a bit and we started having regular leak issues that always originated from the legs. We opted to purchase some Indian and Chinese prefolds, snappis, and some diaper covers.

We chose Bummis Super Brite and Thirsties covers because of the gussets around the legs. I wasn't as happy with the Bummis covers as I was with the Thirsties covers because the elastic in the gussets tended to wear out more quickly. The Thirsties covers have been great. I bought size mediums originally. Sometime since I first started using prefolds, Thirsties came out with adjustable size covers - we have 3 of the size two covers and I have been very happy with the results. We never really used the sizing option, though, as both my children were toddlers and pretty much were big enough for the largest size setting.

Cloth diapering at night never worked well for us. Either the kids would soak right through the diaper, or the ammonia would cause their little bums to be red by morning. We tried using extra covers to minimize leakage and this did sometimes work, but it was really the red, raw skin that kept us from continuing to use them at nights. Also, in my experience, a leak from a cloth diaper is MUCH easier to deal with than pee-gel from a disposable diaper explosion.

For the most part, I really enjoy using the prefolds, though I try to wait until after the kids have pooed before using them. Dumping poo out of a BG3.0 is much easier than dumping it out of a prefold. I do have flushable poo liners, but don't use them much because it seems that the kids never go when I do use them, so they end up wasted.

The biggest down-side to using prefolds is that Erin's skin is super sensitive to being right up against the wet diaper. BG3.0s have a great suede cloth barrier between the microfiber insert which helps to keep the skin dry. Prefolds don't have this. I have used old pieces of fleece between the prefold and Erin's skin and it does help (this is also a good substitute for a poo liner!), but she still tends to get red. I have tried stripping the diapers, using as much lotion/diaper balm as I dare (using a fleece barrier to protect the diaper) and it still doesn't make much difference.

Erin also tends to get red marks where the gussets on the covers touch her skin. Sometimes it almost looks like she has gotten a small blister where the cover has rubbed her skin. Due to the skin issues she has had, we mostly use disposables on her now. I may use anywhere from 0-3 cloth diapers on her per day, but generally find that to preserve healthy skin, I need to follow the use of a cloth diaper with a disposable. Many people find that their children have less rashes and skin issues by using cloth, but this has not been the case for Erin.

Patrick still does very well with cloth. He is a tall child, but he is also pretty slender, so the BG3.0s still fit him pretty well. They are getting a little small, but we intend to begin potty learning in a few weeks, so this isn't a big deal. He also generally does just fine with prefolds and diaper covers. We do use disposables for him at nights due to similar ammonia issues as mentioned above.

All in all, I love using cloth diapers and if the Lord blesses us with another child (no, I am NOT pregnant!), I will use cloth again.

As my "baby" is now 2, I find that I have a strong desire to be intentional about physically nurturing her and encouraging her to participate in daily around the house activities. She absolutely loves to help with the laundry or to unload the dishwasher. Some days this provides a wonderful teaching moment whereas other days I just need to get the job done. I recently began to look into returning to baby wearing.

In the past, I have used three different kinds of baby carriers. With Patrick, we used a Baby Bjorn (Daniel was usually the one that used this) and I used a Maya Wrap. I liked the Baby Bjorn because of the even weight distribution. The reason I did not continue using it was because I got pregnant again when Patrick was 4 months old and a growing belly doesn't work too well with that particular carrier.

I liked the Maya Wrap for about the first 3-4 months of Patrick's life, but found that I often had horrible knots in my shoulder when I was done. Having recently done quite a bit of research on the use of ring slings, I now realize that I did not have the sling or Patrick positioned properly because if the sling and baby are positioned well, both mom and baby should be comfortable.

Before Erin was born, I bought a Moby Wrap. I think I used this for about 4-5 months. This wrap was good because it more evenly distributed the weight over both shoulders. I used the Moby a lot during the first few months of Erin's life - especially when I went to the grocery store or to church. But, I did find that the Moby was a bit of a hassle to get on properly and it tended to stretch out as it was worn, which meant I needed to regularly adjust or tighten it during use. Also, if I didn't get the wrap on correctly the first time, I needed to start over completely. If you have a fussy baby and another young toddler running around, this is not ideal. So, I stopped using it.

I have recently met a lady at my moms group who is a baby wearing educator and who makes different types of baby carriers. I began to look at the carriers she made and to do my own independent research to see how practical it might be to resume baby wearing with a 2 year old. I believed this would be an excellent to encourage Erin to participate in various around the house activities without getting in the way. I pulled back out my old Moby Wrap and liked it because of the even weight distribution, but once again found that it stretched way too much to be worn for any extended period of time. I also found that I needed to lean forward a bit just to feel balanced. This is not good for my back or for Erin.

The local lady who makes carriers includes Mei Tai carriers in her collection. After doing some research, I decided to get one and give it a shot. It functionsvery similarly to a Moby wrap, but does not stretch as much. I received my custom Mei Tai about 2 1/2 weeks ago and wish I had gotten one a LONG time ago. Erin had a little difficulty adjusting to riding on my back as she does like to run around and come along side whatever I'm doing independently, but through open communication and telling her in advance that she will be riding on my back, she has learned to enjoy the Mei Tai.

I can't even begin to explain how much easier having this carrier has made my daily life. I generally never took the kids out on a walk or ventured out by myself with them both because pushing a 50-60lb double stroller is just too much for me. Patrick loves to walk, but I was not willing to go on a walk with a 2 year old and a 3 year old walking as well - what if they both bolted different directions at the same time?! This was not something I was willing to risk. Now, by using the Mei Tai, I can put Erin on my back (if the carrier is on properly, she is incredibly light and easy to carry) and hold Patrick's hand to go on walks. Or, I can wear Erin and push Patrick in the umbrella stroller.

Because of my fantastic experience with the Mei Tai, I also investigated the ring slings made by the same lady. Her slings have a beautiful fanned pleating around the rings which better provides even weight distribution - this is the biggest difference in her slings and the Maya Wrap I had with Patrick. I also watched quite a few youtube videos to find out the proper mechanics of carrying a toddler in a ring sling.

Long story short, I purchased a Duiponi silk ring sling on Monday. We're still adjusting to this sling, but I used it last night at Chic Fil A while we waited in line and it worked beautifully! Erin loves being so close and really enjoys being held (one of the many benefits of baby wearing). I did use this sling for the 2nd half of a long walk this morning - I used the MT for the first 1/2 - and it is not as comfortable or as easy as the Mei Tai is, especially if you're pushing a stroller, but it is ideal for short uses - like walking from the car across a parking log, or for leisurely strolls. This is also great for around the house use.

I say all that to say, even if your "baby" is a toddler, and you are interested in the art of baby wearing, do some research and go for it. Most carriers can hold children up to 35lbs. If done properly, I'm confident you won't regret it!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Oh, I love baby wearing! I have an Ergo, and I can wear either my 9 m/o or my 3 y/o (still under 30 lb.) on my back in it. I have mei tai and a ring sling as well, but I wear the Ergo the most. I suspect that baby carriers are like cloth diapers in that one may work great for one child but you may need a totally different one for another child.