A friend of mine asked me how much my baby weighs. A mother should be able to answer this question very easily, but I am an American expat living in Germany. I know how much she weighs in pounds, but a quick mental math conversion is too much while I am trying to keep a wiggle worm from grabbing at my carelessly placed fork.

“Well, which diapers do you buy? You have to know how much she weighs.”

1. Grasping the opportunity

There it was. Which diapers do I buy? I would love to talk about how I like the way my bumGenius Freetimes dry so quickly after hanging them, and that I just heard there was a limited edition coming out! But I know that where I live cloth diapers are for hippies. And by hippies I mean old-fashioned, hairy-legged, hemp-wearing moms.

2. Introducing the modern technic

“Diapers!?! I use the modern bumGenius cloth diapers from America.”
There it is. That is the trick. If they are from America, then they are new, modern, and most importantly COOL! If I just said I use cloth, Germans would look at me like I am crazy and move on. So I say the brand name as if they should know the name -- as if it is famous.
I was able to use the same idea with my American family.

“Disposables? I use the these cute bumGenius diapers. Cloth diapering has come so far. This is 2014! “

At this point one or two of the following flows out of my mouth:
  • “And they are so easy!”
  • “And they come in so many varieties!”
  • “And they are so cute!”
  • “And there are no stinky chemicals.”
  • “And she never gets diaper rash”
  • “And they are so cute!”
3. Showing the product -- you know you want to

Did I tell you how cute they were? By then I had to show them. It happened to be a bright green diaper. What am I talking about? She always wears bright diapers.

“Honestly, I don’t even use them because they are cheaper, but because I think they are cute!” (which is completely true)

4. . . . talking about being honest

I am not trying to sell cloth diapers, and I really don’t care so much about others using them, except for the fact that it hurts the environment. However, I always feel a need to explain and defend my use of cloth. So before I have to defend my cloth diapers, I like to show my genuine excitement for them.

That being said, I was also honest and said that I do have an extra load of laundry every few days, but it doesn’t bother me.

"I enjoy the extra load of laundry more than I do going to the store, buying disposables, bringing them up to my apartment, and then taking the trash back down. I enjoy hanging brightly colored diapers in the window to dry. And I enjoy picking out the diaper I use for my daughter."

5. Leaving it up to the momma

The main reason I think it is important to be honest and not look like a hero is that there is too much mommy shaming out there. And I don’t think we do it on purpose. I think each momma tries to be the best she can be by showing perfection to her own child. It is not to shame others, it is just that the other mother feels shamed, or imperfect.

Therefore I left it open with my friend.

“I love using cloth diapers. There are so many new and modern ones available. Check out kellyscloset.com and let me know if you need help.”

6. Offering help

The last part is the most important. We all know how it was. Although I absolutely love bumGenius, I know I love them because they fit my lifestyle and my baby. Now that I have tried a few, I can help a friend wade through the new terminology and brands and help her find what is best for her baby. And maybe she just doesn’t want to make the change. I have to accept this quite often. In that case the knowledge is what matters, so that moms know their options. But more importantly she needs to know that she can come to you for help -- and not just help related to cloth diapering.


BIO: Jennifer Teich is an American girl who moved from the Ohio river to the Elbe river in Hamburg, Germany. Along with trying to figure out the German culture, she is now navigating motherhood with her husband and six month old daughter.


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Unveiling the Underpants

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One of the major hurdles new cloth diapering parents face is the problem of the nighttime solution. With disposable diaper manufacturers conjuring up magnificent visions of twelve hours of blissful relaxation, recent converts to cloth diapers may scream ‘no fair’! Seasoned parents know that in any case, that 12 hours? It’s a farce. Most newborns are up 3-10 times a night, with some children never sleeping that blissful twelve hours in a row—maybe when they’re teenagers and don’t need diapers.

So—what’s realistic and what’s necessary changes with your baby’s growth patterns. Makes sense, right? As babies get bigger, their stomachs get bigger and they eat/drink more breast milk or formula, and eventually milk, water, or whatever sneaky grandparents give them. When it’s blazing hot in the shade (like late summer in the U.S.), kids drink more as they are active later in the day. This phenomenon surprises nearly every parent of new sippy cup users, as free reign on drinks equals a flooded diaper, and the potential for wet sheets. As they mature, the longer they sleep, and, again with the wet covers. As newborns become infants and toddlers, tripping around from activity to activity with a glass while they graze on goldfish crackers, naps and bedtime can prove trying on even your best bulletproof daytime diaper.

Many parents fix this by designating 2-3 diapers as ‘nighttime diapers.’ It might be fitteds and wool, it might be a pocket diaper stuffed with microfiber backed by hemp, or even a super toddler prefold with a double gusseted PUL cover. If it’s not you with the baby, then whoever is minding the tyke will be told ‘use this one ONLY at night.’ Right? There are pros and cons to this DESIGNATED DIAPER approach:

PROS:

  1. Drier mornings due to your awesome sumo-soaker diaper combo- obviously if you find something that works, then you have fewer issues to battle!
  2. Set out one diaper for caregivers with pjs—easy peasy just point to the items on the bed and you’re set for date night!
  3. Transition to day-trained can still = nighttime diapers, because they’re part of the ‘uniform’—no need to switch to pull ups since the child is used to this combo already.
  4. Helps you stay on top of diaper laundry so the specialized items are always clean!
CONS:

  1. Must keep on top of laundry for special inserts/diapers—if they’re not clean when you need them, you won’t be happy.
  2. Caregivers make mistakes—like being fun and putting pjs on the kids at 6 pm!
  3. Poop happens—enough said!
  4. Using the same few diapers repeatedly causes more wear and tear –you may need to repair or replace these diapers more than the ones in your normal, larger rotation. You may also find that you have more issues with ammonia, a greater need to rinse, or more smell to those particular diapers overall because they’re soaked with urine for greater lengths of time over and over again.
Whether you choose to designate nighttime diapers or not is up to you. Weigh the pros and cons carefully and remember, you can always change your mind—as easily as you change a diaper. Add more to your rotation, try a new style of cloth diaper, or embrace cloth overnight if you’ve been afraid to try before!

Bio: Jill blogs about her experiences as a stay at home mom to 3 girls, country living, cloth diapers, and a life 'just this side of crunchy' at www.lifeisnotbubblewrapped.com


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Pros and Cons of Designated Nighttime Diapers

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Aside from buying cloth diapers (obviously), there are some things you can do to prepare for cloth diapering while you’re still expecting.

  1. Put receiving blankets and thin baby wash cloths on your registry. Many people may not buy you cloth diapers because they’re not familiar with them or doubt you’ll actually use them. Some may simply make a mad dash to the nearest chain retailer hoping that you’re registered there. Receiving blankets are familiar, cheap and can easily be put to work as flat diapers. And those ultra-thin baby wash cloths? They make great wipes!
  2. Learn about flats. Flats are probably the most intimidating of cloth diapers. I remember when I received my first one as a freebie with an order and I thought, “What am I supposed to do with this?” But once I learned some folds on YouTube (including the pad fold--duh!), I realized that if I could use prefolds, I could use flats. Flats are so easy to clean and take very little time to dry. You can even use them as inserts in your pocket diapers.
  3. Print out cloth diaper care instructions and put them on your washing machine. Make it easy for others to help you with diaper chores by printing step-by-step instructions and any important warnings (e.g. “No fabric softener!”), putting the paper in a sheet protector and posting your instructions in plain sight. You can secure the sheet to the top of the washing machine with magnets or tape it to the wall directly above.
  4. Scope out local sources for cloth diaper safe detergent. You can find many different brands of cloth diaper safe detergent online, but there may be a time when you need diaper detergent NOW. Familiarize yourself with what common detergents are safe and check out the detergent aisle in stores you frequent. And if someone offers to run an errand for you, it’s helpful to know exactly where to direct them!
  5. Have a cloth diapering intro session. Spend some time with dad or anyone else who will be in your home regularly to help you out after baby comes, showing how each diaper is used and going over washing instructions.
  6. Talk to your day care provider about cloth diapers. See whether you’ll be able to use cloth at day care or if there are special rules. If they have already been using cloth diapers on other babies, ask about what kinds of diapers they are familiar with and how they like them.
  7. If you get a non cloth safe diaper cream, hide it! Don’t even keep it in the baby’s room. This way other caregivers won’t find it and use it. If you have a cloth-safe diaper cream or barrier like CJ’s Butter that may be unfamiliar to other caregivers, label it with a sharpie so they know what it is.
  8. Get dryer balls. Did you know you can’t use dryer sheets with cloth diapers? Dryer balls help prevent static, make material softer and can reduce drying time.
  9. Prepare to hang dry. Cloth diapers with elastic and waterproof lining hold up better if they are hung to dry. Figure out where you might be able to hang dry them in your house and get some clothes pins if you don’t have some already. Research space saving drying racks to find one that will work for your home.
  10. Have disposables (or disposable liners) handy, just in case. Give yourself a break, mama. You’re doing a lot, and if using something disposable for one change, or overnight, or for a day gives you the break you need, by all means do it. You can put another cloth diaper on when that umbilical stump falls off, or when the laundry’s done, or when baby’s not with the sitter.
Bio: Amber Elbon lives in the Seattle area with her creative husband, curly-haired one-year-old boy, and sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.


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Preparing To Cloth Diaper Before Baby

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When you rent a flat in England, you often discover a washing machine where the dishwasher usually resides in an American kitchen. Space is limited, so a laundry room is a luxury. In many homes, so is a dryer.

Our family brought about 10 changes of clothes per person for our summer abroad. Whatever we packed, we had to carry on buses, trains, subways, and in airports. This requires staying on top of laundry in a new way with a family of five, especially with no dryer. As a result, I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for the drying rack.

Our first flat lacked a drying rack and we didn’t want to invest in one for such a short stay, so we made due. Our current residence sports two drying racks and space to use them. While I sometimes miss the convenience of a dryer, I’ve also come to appreciate the economy and simplicity of line drying.

I’ve wanted to line dry cloth diapers for quite some time, but I always pictured them hanging on an outdoor line and this is prohibited by the HOA where I live. Indoor drying seemed time consuming and impractical. This may still be the case in the winter, but indoor drying has proved very effective for us here – and England isn’t exactly experiencing a summer heat wave.

We are currently using traditional metal drying racks that sit on the floor. We keep them near the window and patio doors to help drying along. While clothes can sometimes be stiffer after line drying, this is the only disadvantage I’ve noticed so far. I would love to find a way, however, to hang the clothes in a somewhat aesthetic way. This way, our minimal living room floor space wouldn’t be regularly occupied by clothes.

I asked my blog readers about their favorite drying racks recently and the LOFTi proved popular. This is one line drying option provided by The New Clothesline Company, helping to optimize space while line drying. I looked into these options and immediately wanted one for my own home, especially with a new baby joining us in October!

The LOFTi maximizes space by attaching a line to your ceiling. This is an excellent solution for an indoor space and can handle a large load of laundry. It would also be ideal for our laundry room back home. The DUO is an affordable companion to the LOFTi, or works as a stand-alone unit. It can be hung from anywhere and fold down to travel as well!

These drying items are definitely on my list of ways to continue line drying when I return home at the end of the summer. Do you line dry? Indoors or outdoors? What is your favorite system?

Bio: Mindy is a blogger and freelance writer at The Inquisitive Mom


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Line Drying Cloth Diapers

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Earn Free Cloth Diapers