Growing Up: Cloth Diapers and Breastfeeding

I know my topics are all over the place, here. Part of my do what you’re gonna do and be yourself idea for 2016 includes blogging about whatever strikes my fancy on whatever schedule/non-schedule is feasible. So we’re jumping into some parenting stuff!

M seems to be growing up so very fast. She is definitely a little girl now, not a baby. Part of our transition into toddlerhood was also a transition to the town daycare, where disposable diapers are used for diaper-wearing kids. We provide our own, as well as wipes. We moved her there from a home daycare that accommodated our cloth diapering, so we entered into new-ish territory. We had always used disposables overnight and quite a bit during travel, but since the daycare switch we’ve had to buy disposables on a regular basis (so expensive!).

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For a while, we kept up with cloth on weekends and when M came home from daycare, but the infrequency with which she wore cloth (a handful on the weekend and maybe one a day on weekdays) meant that the diapers sat in the laundry bag for far too long, because we kept forgetting we needed to wash them. And more often than not, we were reaching for a disposable when she came home out of habit, so gradually we kind of accidentally phased out cloth.

I finally decided, last month, that we were done — it wasn’t worth the effort for so few diapers, and she is making progress towards potty training anyway. It’s expensive to use disposables, and we aren’t really set up as a disposable using family — we just have a regular garbage can in her room — so I’m hoping we’ll be totally done with diapers sometime soon.

Our transition away from breastfeeding happened in a similar manner. I didn’t really mean to wean M, but we had a lot going on in the latter half of 2015. Matt did a lot of bedtimes while I dealt with other things, and frankly, with all the fluctuating hormones happening for me, even the sporadic bedtime nursing sessions became a bit physically uncomfortable. The few times she asked, I gently deflected. When I felt like I was maybe ready to accommodate it again, she had mostly lost interest — she’d ask, but then lay her head down on me immediately after asking and nestle into sleep, with no attempt to convince me. And I wasn’t going to offer, so we just skipped over it. She was just asking out of routine, I think. Now I can’t remember the last time she asked.

It’s kind of bittersweet to me how that particular relationship ended, because it had a lot to do with the sadness and trauma of loss last year. I’m trying to remind myself that it likely would have happened anyway, and to let go of the cloud of bad feelings around it, because there have already been enough bad feelings surrounding that time. She is happy and healthy, and not scarred for life — and I managed to breastfeed for two years, which is about a year and six months longer than I thought I would have been able to, in the beginning.

I can’t remember the last time I nursed her, but that’s okay. It’s all a part of growing up, and I am so grateful for all that we have accomplished together.

Expectations vs. Reality: Cloth Diapering

Maybe a month before M was born I had a meltdown in the nursery, surrounded by diapers, covers and inserts I had spent the last week washing, stripping and bleaching. My sister did us an amazing favour and sent her entire cloth diaper stash our way, saving us from spending tons of money. But I was running out of time and totally overwhelmed by what piece went in what diaper, what needed a cover, how all the snaps worked…

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I’m here to say that it makes way more sense when there’s a baby to lend context! Matt told me I’d figure it out and I was mad at him for it (that whole “it’ll all work out!” concept never works on me) but it’s true. However, we didn’t start using cloth until recently and we’re still not using it full-time.

We started out by buying one 32-pack of newborn disposable diapers knowing we’d have a lot of diaper changes to contend with in the early days, along with an umbilical stump. It actually lasted surprisingly long, supplemented by all the diapers given to us in hospital, but after about a week I had to pick up another pack. And then we needed another one a week after that because her stump stayed on forever and we couldn’t be bothered with the fold-down-the-size-1s trick.

Eventually the stump fell off and we didn’t really talk about the cloth, we just started putting her into the size 1 disposables given to us as leftovers from other parents/baby gifts. Except the first pack we opened up were Huggies and for whatever reason, Huggies don’t work on M very well. She’s long and has skinny legs and every damn poop diaper leaked out the leg no matter how high and tight I cinched it. We were still at the ‘change ten diapers a day’ stage and I got mad after my fourth leak of the day and out came the cloth — my sister told me, and I’d heard from others, that blowouts were uncommon with cloth compared to disposables, and I was sick of busting out my Shout bottle at every diaper change.

And… it worked! I kept her in the smaller cloth diapers we had: two Thirsties all-in-ones, two other all-in-ones whose brand escapes me right now, and my current favourite, AMP duos, size small. When Matt got home I told him she was in cloth and he gamely switched over right away.

We have such a big selection and I’m not even sure what all of the inserts are, honestly. I know that microfibre isn’t supposed to directly touch the baby so we use those ones if we’re stuffing an insert in below the fleece layer as a pocket diaper. Or, we use the cotton-y ones as an insert on top of the fleece layer. We also have Flip inserts and I’ve used those in the AMPS, folded down with the non-microfibre side up. I think Matt is actually having fun mixing and matching. I did have a few poop leakage issues with two or three cloth diapers, but I suspect I used too-big diapers or didn’t snap them small enough (still figuring that out).

We just throw the diapers and inserts into a lined laundry bag inside of a garbage bin from IKEA (the large KNODD). There’s no odor, with the lid on, and we have two big laundry bags so one can always be in the bin while the other is washing with the diapers. We use disposable wipes so we still have a small garbage bin the bedroom (and we throw the disposables we use in there too — more on that in a bit).

As for laundry, right now I’m washing a load of diapers every two to three days, because we’re really partial to the AMPs and they run out about that quickly. I was terrified to wash my first load of dirty diapers, I’ll be honest — there’s something really weird about putting soiled diapers in the thing you use to wash your own clothing. When I went to switch the first load I saw something dark and gelatinous trapped in the seal of the washer door, where cat hair and lint accumulates, and I freaked out thinking it was somehow poop. Turns out the gel from the detergent packs we use to wash our regular laundry doesn’t quite dissolve, and it had all migrated there along with a bunch of dark cat hair. Still gross, but not poop, and now I’ve been alerted to a new place to clean.

Anyway. I wash all different brands of diapers at the same time, so rather than try to follow different instructions, this is what has been working for us: a cold rinse, no spin, followed by a hot wash on heavy duty/soil level high (to try and get more water in our HE machine) with an extra rinse cycle, warm. Then I take them all out and machine dry them for 40 minutes, check them, and occasionally spin them through the dryer again. When it’s not so cold I’ll line dry them, and once we start using PUL covers, I’ll take those out and hang them to dry.

Like I said we’re still using disposables too. Once we hit the time of night where she might be going to sleep for awhile, we switch over because I’m anxious about her sleeping as well with cloth on. Once we get into the swing of things and I have time to look up the best way to cloth diaper for overnights, I think we’ll jump into cloth full-time. The other time we’ve used disposables are for travel. I’m comfortable using cloth for that, in theory, bringing a wet bag with us, but we’re suckers for convenience when things are already hectic with being out of the house. We did hit a patch of disposables-only while we were sick, but that was us in survival mode.

Based solely on the huge amount of garbage generated when we were using all disposables, I’m glad we’re mostly on cloth. Matt actually had to drive our trash out to the dump recently because the sheer number of diapers we had to throw out made it impossible to put all of our trash out at the curb!

That, and diapers are expensive. I know our water bill will be somewhat affected by two to three extra heavy-duty laundry loads a week, but I don’t think it equals out to the high cost of diapers especially if we had to buy locally. The only money we’ve spent on diapers so far has been two 32-packs of newborn disposables, a roll of small Thirsties liners for if we have to use barrier cream with cloth, and a thing of travel wipes just for the container (because we have a ton of gifted/leftover wipes, too!).

We have a drawer full of Flips and larger pocket diapers I’m excited to use, once I feel like she’s big enough to fit into them well! Some people think we’re crazy for going the cloth route but they look so much more comfortable for her, and they’re also adorable.