Category Archives: Green Living

Sunning Your Diapers

I was folding diapers the other night dreaming of the sun.  Why you ask?  Because winter and teething has been hard on my cloth diapers.  Most are showing the effects of hanging inside in our basement or being put in the dryer to dry.  They are stained.  A few are quite nasty.

OK…so why was I dreaming of the sun?  Because it gets stains out!  With no effort on your part!

Think about it…what happens when you leave something in the car window for any amount of time?  What happens to the side of your curtains that face the window?  What happens to your lawn furniture cushions?  They fade!  The UV which is so nasty for your skin is the best thing that ever hit a diaper.

The key is to hang them out wet.  If they are dry, it doesn’t work.  This time of the year, if you are really desperate, you can wash the really nasty ones and lay them flat on a drying rack in front of a window.  It works, but nothing like a clothesline in the warm weather.

And honestly, is there any other view from your window that you’d rather see?  Or that great feeling of sticking it to the Power company?

Happy Diapering!

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New Year’s Resolutions!

Did you make a New Years’ resolution?  What did you resolve to do?  I decided this year that on top of the normal lose some weight, I’d make a few that would positively impact our family.  Here’s a list of what I have:

  • Cut our energy costs.  Not only will this impact our budget, but will help the environment and teach our children about energy efficiency.  We signed up before Christmas to participate in Cool Truro-Colchester.  So far we’ve been hanging up more laundry, turning our heat down at night, and have changed ALL the bulbs in our house to energy efficient ones.  We are also driving our beast of a minivan less often.
  • Eat more whole food.  Our recycling bags are numerous.  And most of this is packaging from food.  It’s a little shocking.  So I will be making more of our food from scratch, and trying to stay away from prepackaged food as much as possible.
  • Only eat oils that come from a product that is oily.  Do you know how they get oil from vegetables?  No, neither do I.  So we have started buying lard instead of shortening, butter instead of margarine and coconut oil instead of veggie oil.  The coconut oil and butter costs an arm and a leg, but for as much as we use either, we’re not too concerned.  We’ve always used mostly olive oil, but have been trying to figure something out for baking.  This is where the other fats come in handy.
  • Be more creative and do more things as a family.  This one is mostly for me.  I have a habit of running as fast as I can after supper to have some quiet time.  So instead, I’m implementing more quiet family time.  Some days, yes, I will still be running as far as fast as I can go, but I feel like we’re all going in separate directions most days.  More stories, games, crafts, outside time, etc.  To help with the creative side of this resolution, we’ve all decided to follow Amanda Soules’ The Rythm of Family.  It’s divided by months, has recipes, crafts for kids and mommas, and is overall fantastic.  I would suggest this book to anyone!  You can also follow her blog:http://www.soulemama.com/
  • Take more pictures.  That’s really it.  I find that since I had the third babe, my picture-taking has gone down a lot.  I need to remember this time with the kids because they are growing up much to fast!  I’d also really like to learn how to use my camera, but I’m not pushing that one!

So that’s what we have in store for our family in 2012.  What’s up your sleeve?

Happy New Year!

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How to have kids without blowing the budget!

So you get pregnant.  Planned or not, shortly after the shock/excitement sets in, so does panic about how are you going to be able to afford this kid!  This panic has set in for myself 3 times and these are the ways that I have dealt with it.  Most of these were learned when I had my son almost 12 years ago and had NO money.  I’ve carried them over with my last two children.  It’s helped us save loads of money, and with an ever-expanding grocery bill (a preteen and two little piggies will make you cry at the grocery store every time!) we need all the help we can get!  So here’s a few of my tips!

FEEDING:

  • Breastfeed….as long as you can!  Not only is it free (and easy), it’s best for babes.  The longer you nurse, the longer your baby receives the benefits.  My oldest son nursed full-time until I went back to school when he was 9 months, then he continued to self wean until he was around a year.  My daughter nursed until she was 15 months, with bottles as well starting around 10 months.  My younger son is almost a year old and shows no sign on stopping nursing.  He refuses bottles.
  • If you have to formula feed, use coupons!  It helps a lot.
  • When it’s time to start solids (please not before 6 months!  Or under the recommendation of a GOOD doctor.), make your own baby food.  I always found that my kids hated jarred food (who can blame them?  Have you ever smelled it?)  Plus the savings are tremendous!  1 jar of sweet potatoes baby food costs about $1.  You get, what, 2-3 servings?  I bought a medium sweet potato for $2 and got more than 12 servings.  You just steam the veggies (keeps the nutrients in) until very soft, then puree.  Freeze in ice-cube trays.  That’s it.  Plus, my kids only ever ate puree for a few weeks, so I had lots of puree to throw into things like spaghetti sauce or chili.  You can also do some research on baby led weaning.

CLOTHING:

  • Ask around for hand-me-downs, check out www.kijiji.ca, find local consignment shops, and keep an eye out for local clothing sales.  If you’re in Nova Scotia, keep an eye on the Facebook page.  I’ll be posting starting in the spring all the local sales that I hear about.  These sales are also great for getting things like swings, seats and toys.
  • Use cloth diapers.  Even if you just use them part-time, you’ll save so much money!  To save money when buying your stash, shop for used diapers (www.kijiji.ca), stalk your favorite sites for sales (there’s some really good Boxing Day sales out there right now!), register for cloth diapers for your baby shower, or stick to flats/prefolds and covers.  If you’re looking for something a little different for your baby shower, check out The Fluff and Stuff Shop diaper parties!  They also have a virtual option for those with family far and wide.

EXTRAS:

  • Ask yourself if you really need all those toys/swings/seats/etc.  You can save a lot of money (and space!)if you don’t buy any of the extras.  The only item I really needed/used was our exersaucer.  I bought it used at a yard sale for $15, used it for 2 kids, then sold it for $10.  Can’t complain then.
  • If you really need the extras, buy used.  Most are rarely used and are in great condition.
  • For wipes, even if you use disposable, use cloth.  You will get 100’s of those tiny little wash cloths at your shower, so grab a few and use them for tushies.  I regret not doing it before.

THINGS THAT MUST BE BOUGHT NEW:

  • Car seats and cribs.  Don’t mess around with those items.  Use the savings from above and get the best that you can get!  You never know what has happened to them before hand and you can get good quality for a fair price.

Good luck to you if you’re pregnant/planning on becoming pregnant, just had a baby, or are losing your mind every time you walk into the Wal-Mart with your children.  Kids are expensive, but there are ways to ease the pain!  Leave me a comment on ways that your family saves money!

Happy Diapering/Parenting!

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My Cloth Diaper Story

This blog post is a contest entry, but I think it’s a great idea to write about the benefits of cloth and my personal experience.  Please comment and tell me about your experiences!  I always love to hear from others!

I started using cloth diapers almost 12 years ago when I had my oldest son.  Back then it wasn’t a choice, I had no money for diapers.  NONE.  So, for about $20, my mother got me a diaper pail, some pins, a few rubber pants, and made me some flannel flats out of an old flannel sheet.  It started out as a way to cut down on my use of disposables, but quickly I found a love for those diapers that I never thought would happen.  I started using them when I was out of the house (dirties went into a bread bag!), I only used disposables at night.  He rarely had rashes, and the amount of money I saved was crazy!

Fast forward 8 years and I was pregnant again with my daughter.  We knew that we would use cloth again, but were unsure if we wanted to go with flats again.  We started out with flannel flats when she was little, then moved onto fitteds, pockets and prefolds.  By the time she was a year old, we had way too many diapers and had never paid anymore then $250 for all the diapers that we had.  We were so happy with the decision we had made!

A few years later and we were pregnant again with our son.  The only things that we had to purchase were some small covers and prefolds, which were bought used.  We might have paid $60 to get ready for him.  Then when he outgrew the smalls, he went into the same diapers that his big sister was wearing.  And we recouped about $40 from selling his diapers.  Eventually we did have to replace some of our prefolds, but it was still worth every penny.  The old prefolds were added to the rag-bag for cleaning.  They are still super absorbent, just rough around the edges.  Diaper Decisions has a great chart that explains the costs of each type of diaper for you.

Cloth diapers are super easy.  Even to use flats and prefolds (the most economical choice), after you use them a few times, you’re an old pro.  YouTube has some great videos that can help you out.  Washing may take a little bit of a learning curve as well, but it’s still super easy.  If you are exclusively breastfeeding, even the poopy diapers get thrown in the pail. (It’s water soluble.)  Even if you have to rinse the dirties off, a diaper sprayer (a must have in  my opinion) deals with it.  I have never actually touched to poo on a diaper….EVER.

We have never once regretted our decision to use cloth diapers with our children.  They have only ever had teething rashes on their bums, we have saved loads of money, and they are really easy once you get the hang of it.  In fact, even my husband grabs a flat or prefold and a cover over the pocket diapers.  If that doesn’t speak volumes to the ease of use, I don’t know what is!

Happy Diapering!

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How Many Diapers Do I Need?

This is a common question that many people have.  The cost of buying cloth diapers can be a little intimidating when you are first starting out.    You must keep in mind that this is most likely a one time cost.  There will be no running to the store because you are out of diapers!  If you chose to still use disposables at night, you can get through without too many worries.  We keep the smallest packages of disposables in the house for night, so we go through a 40 pack about every month or so.

OK…so how many do you need?  With a newborn, I would suggest a minimum of 25.  This will most likely not give you more than a day, day and a half at the most between washing.  When they are older, I would say a minimum of 18.  This again will not get you far.  But it will get you started!  Be prepared to do washing more frequently, and there will be more wear and tear on your diapers.

To be comfortable, minimize the wear, and have a day or two between washings, I would recommend 36 for newborns, and 25 for older babes.  You can always add more of less depending on your preference, how many days you want in between washings and such.

I always want to suggest as well, that when you are starting your stash, please purchase a mix of diapers.  Whether it be brands, or types (such as pockets and prefolds), this will let you know what works on your baby, and will also help minimize the costs.  (It will minimize costs because you will nt be buying an entire stash of something that you don’t like!)

Here are some links with more info for you!

Happy Diapering!

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Cloth Wipes

We just recently started using cloth wipes.  I don’t know why it’s taken us so long, but I’m in love.  Here’s our system:

I only fold up about 10 of those cheap baby face clothes that you have 100’s of already from your baby shower.  I only do a few at a time so that we don’t get a mold situation.  Here’s how I fold them.  I use a Prince Lionheart wipe warmer that I found at a used clothing sale for $10.

The solution that we use at the moment are Monkey Doodlez wipe cubes.  I bought mine from The Fluff and Stuff Shop  during the Cyber Monday sales.  I keep a 500ml mason jar with 1 cube diluted in the fridge.  1 cube will do 2 fill ups in our warmer.  If you want to make your own, just do a quick search for wipe solution and you will find lots of different recipes to suit your family.

Whenever my sewing machine and serger find each other again, I will be making my own wipes.  The face clothes work well, but I find them a little small.  All personal preference though.

To go out, I just grab a few and put them in a ziploc baggy, or through them in the travel case.  I don’t store them in my diaper bag, just because of the mold situation that can occur.

To wash, you just throw them in with your regular diaper laundry.  If you don’t use cloth, they can go in with your towels.

You can also use a dry method with your wipes.  All you do then is keep a spray bottle and spritz the wipes as you need them.  I personally prefer a warm cloth for J2’s tushy, but it’s all up to you!

Happy Diapering!

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Washing your Cloth Diapers.

So.  You bought your diapers, your baby has used them for a day or two and now it’s time to wash them.  How are you supposed to get them clean?  I mean, think about what your baby just did to them.  Is there really a way to sanitize them and make them really clean?

I think that this is the part that deter most people from using cloth.  I’m the first to admit it.  It’s gross.  Isn’t it much easier just to wrap up the disposable and throw it all out?  (By the way, you’re not supposed to put human waste in your garbage, even in disposable diapers.  Gross.)

It’s not hard.  It’s not gross.  I have never touched my child’s poo while washing diapers.  It’s not time-consuming.  Unless you’re in the creek beating them on a rock, honestly, not difficult.  It’s 1 extra load of laundry every couple of days.  The hardest thing that I find about washing diapers is to remember to go downstairs and turn the dial on the washer.

Here are a few links that will help you get started:

And here’s what I do:

First off, I use a dry pail system.  All diapers are thrown into a pail without any water or soaking agent.  Dirty diapers are taken to our second bathroom where the diaper sprayer is, sprayed off and placed in our second pail.  I do a wash every couple of days.

When it’s time to wash a load, I put all the diapers in my washer and put it on the soak option that I have on my top loading washing machine.  Depending on how long it’s been since I washed diapers or how many dirty ones I have I might do a cold or warm water soak.  In the winter when I can’t hang out my diapers as often, I might throw some OxiClean in the soak as well.  The next setting on my washer is a prewash.  It just agitates the diapers a bit more after soaking and spins out the dirty water.  The length of time that I soak my diapers for depends.  Some days it’s only half an hour, but other days I get wrapped up in other things that need to be done and it could be all day.  The soaking and prewash are an important step because they help loosen up any dirties that are on the diapers and help get them cleaner.  I used to only do a prewash, but I find that the diapers do come out cleaner with the soak.

The next step is the actual washing.  I use HOT water with the longest wash cycle I can.  My machine also automatically has a second rinse setting that I always use.  I use cold rinses.  I use Allen’s powder detergent and put about a TEASPOON or a teaspoon and a half if they are really bad.  THAT”S IT!!!!!

You might be thinking, eww!  That’s not enough detergent!  I only ever use the minimum amount of any laundry detergent.  The key to getting any piece of clothing clean is having enough water and agitation between the clothes.  Detergent is only a small aspect of your laundry routine.

After they have been washed and have their second rinse, I either put them in the dryer or hang them up, inside or out.  Hanging diapers outside is a perfect natural stain remover, and the UV in the sun helps kill germs as well.

PROBLEMS WITH YOUR DIAPERS

Sometimes your diapers may smell, either right after baby pees or fresh out of the dryer.  This could be a detergent build up.  A couple of questions to ask yourself:  Do I use fabric softener?  Did I put too much detergent in?  Or not enough?  Were there too many diapers in the load?  Are there bubbles left in the washer during the final rinse?

  1. Fabric softener is pointless.  Yes, it makes your clothes smell nice.  But it’s just an extra chemical close to your skin.  We don’t use ANY fabric softener and our clothes are still soft, no static and I know there is nothing rubbing on our skin.  It leaves a residue on your clothes that coats them.  It also coats your diapers and makes them nonabsorbent.  IF you still feel the need to use fabric softener, please use vinegar.  Even if you only use fabric softener on your clothes, it will coat your washing machine and dryer with a film that is being rubbed all over your diapers.
  2. The detergent issue is a fine line that takes a bit of experimenting to figure out what works best for your diapers, washer and water.  Start small and work your way back up.
  3. Too many diapers means that there wasn’t enough water swishing through your diapers to help them rinse out.  Too few diapers, and they aren’t rubbing against each other to get stains out.
  4. Bubbles in the final rinse?  Keep rinsing until the water is clean.  And the next time you do a load, use a little less detergent.  Soon you will find the perfect combo.

Sometimes if your diapers are really bad, you may have to “strip them”.  I won’t get into the details here, but just know that if your washing routine is working, a little OxiClean or RLR in your soak should be all you need every couple of weeks.  If you do think you might need a strip, here are some links for you.  Please not that natural fibres such as cotton, hemp and bamboo RARELY need stripping, just a new wash routine.

So that’s it.  Once you get a wash routine down, you’re on easy street.  No running to the store because you ran out, or keeping piles of packages of diapers in your house that you bought on sale.  Always prepared!  If you have anymore questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me!

Also, have you liked our FB page yet?  You still have time to get a chance to win a tub of CJ’s diaper cream!

Happy Diapering!

 

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