Friday, September 30, 2011

Cloth Diapering...Jill's Story

You should’ve seen the faces when they heard my news. Crinkled up noses, wide eyes, smirks, and even some sticking their tongue out in disgust. All this caused by me saying two words: cloth diapers.

It all started when I was pregnant with our first baby, a sweet little blonde girl we named Jozie. I was talking to my mom about a conversation I had had with my best friend a few years earlier when she was pregnant with her son. My friend and her husband live in Minneapolis and she had looked into doing cloth when their son was born. She had found a website that offered various “packs” of diapers, and she really wished they could do them, but the starter pack was over $600. When she told me the cost, I about choked. I don’t know what I was more surprised at: my friends desire to do cloth, or the exorbitant cost the website was charging. 

My mom laughed as I was re-telling the conversation to her. She had used cloth on both my older brothers and me, so she was a pro, or so I thought. She was telling me about the pre-folds and plastic pants she had used for us, and how they are still available for WAY cheaper than the packs my friend had looked at. I felt a twinge of joy - could I really be getting excited about cloth diapers? They seem like so much work. And what about all the poop? Ew. Well anyway, we started looking around and we were able to find everything my mom used on me and my brothers’ bottoms. My husband was smart enough to just say “whatever” when I got home with our finds. 

Fast forward a couple months and our little girl is in our arms. She was 4 weeks old when her umbilical stump finally fell off and I felt enough like myself to tackle the CLOTH. My first attempt took a while; prefold first, pin it tight enough to hold but not too tight and don’t poke the baby!, then the plastic pants over top. Got her dressed, picked her up and by the sounds of it, I thought I was carrying a plastic covered camp mattress. Ick, I didn’t like this at all, but my mom and I had gone through all the trouble of finding the supplies that I wasn’t going to give up. But about 20 minutes later, when Jozie had wet all the way through her onesie and fleece overalls, I changed her thinking I must have just hit a full bladder. But when she wet thru 3 more outfits that day I was at wits end, and couldn’t see any of the benefits of cloth. I called my mom to vent and she said “Oh yeah, I remember that I had to double diaper you guys!” Ok, I thought, tomorrow’s a new day. 

So our new day starts, only to find out that it would be same song, second verse. Ugh. But then I remembered a bag that my grandma had given me while I was pregnant. She volunteers one day a week in our small town second hand store, sorting through donations before they go on the floor, and one day she found some cloth diaper covers. When she first gave them to me we were unsure of how they worked, so I just put them in a tub of baby things and forgot about them. So I went and dug them out and I found a couple Fuzzibunz covers and liners and a couple homemade covers. 

I looked them up online and 4 clicks and 5 minutes later, I was introduced to a whole new world of cloth diapers! I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy these covers and liners were. I went right to it; slipped a liner in the pocket of the cover, and snapped my sweet little girl up in her new diaper. Done. No pins, no plastic pants crinkling under her clothes, just as quick and no more bulk than a disposable, and the very best part? No leaks that led to a complete costume change every half hour.

Since my alleluia moment 2.5 years ago, a lot has changed; I have accumulated quite a collection of covers and liners, Jozie has been potty trained since she was 22 months which I think is in part due to how her cloth diapers felt as soon as she wet, and our family went from 3 to 4 last November with the arrival of our son Lane who is now wearing the same diapers Jozie used to.

Here are the morals of my story: First, my mom is still a pro cloth diaper-er, and has given me lots of good tips on soaking, washing, and smell reduction, but so much had changed in the 26 years since I’ve been out of diapers that neither of us knew about how completely easy it is now. Second, Cloth isn’t gross, hard, and doesn’t need to be all that expensive to get started. And lastly, the part my husband likes the most: we have saved an untold amount of money by buying a fraction of the disposables most parents do. The diapers we invested in for Jozie still look like new so I’ve had to buy 0 new diapers for Lane, and since we live in the country and farm our burn pile is not piled high with disposables that will never burn away. 

And here’s the part I love most: my husband changes cloth diapers without even flinching.

By Jill Cuperus

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time for Gratitude: A Sewing Legacy

A couple weeks ago in my Big Girl Beds and Grandmas post I told you about a couple of the things that were passed down to my family from my Grandpa and Grandma’s house after my beloved Grandpa passed away in the Spring.

Well, today as I’m in the midst of preparing for the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza, I’m so thankful for something else that came from my Grandma…and not just from her house, but from her. Her love of creating things with a sewing machine.

I remember as a young girl sitting in her sewing room surrounded with sewing supplies, fabric, an ironing board, pins on the floor (we always were required to wear shoes in the sewing room to avoid the inevitable pin-in-the-foot), and her gently hovered over me and guiding my shaky and nervous hands as I learned to stitch together a quilt. It is a memory that is etched in my mind forever.

She instilled in me her love of creating and sewing things together. But it wasn’t just piecing the pieces together. It wasn’t just about sewing. It was about one generation passing on something of great value to another generation – it was creating a masterpiece with all the love and care that a grandma has for her granddaughter.

My grandma was tragically killed in a car accident in September of 2000. Yes, it was a devastating event for our family, but because of what she passed on to not only me, but to my sister and brothers and so many of my cousins (I have something like 35 on that side of the family), she did not die. Yes, her soul is in heaven and her body is no longer alive and living on this earth, but she lives on through each one of us.

With each new item I sew, I think of her. With any new stitch I learn (I am by no means an advanced sewer…I consider myself an “experienced beginner” – there is so much I still don’t know), and each time I begin something new or complete a project, I think of her. I can’t help but think she is looking down on me with a smile, and I am so excited when I see the interest my three year old shows in what I make at my sewing machine. I am SO excited to pass on my love of sewing that came from my grandma and my mom to her and her children. It’s a legacy that I will do my best to never let die.

By Evie DeWitt

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cloth Diapers - A Personal View from Rochelle Lund

Picture this:  Your dear sweet baby has finally fallen asleep in his crib.  The only way you could get him to sleep was to strip him down to his diaper and a blanket.  A blissful hour goes by until you hear the muttered grumblings of a disgruntled child waking up from his nap.  I usually let him have a minute to wake up and adjust to his surroundings before I go get him and this day was no different.  Until, I went to go get him.  His adorable, pudgy little paws managed to rip off the Velcro fastenings of his disposable diaper.   And then he pooped.  A lot.  Everywhere.

I had been doing research on cloth diapers, but hadn’t yet mustered up the courage actually buy some.  This little incident helped me get my butt in gear.  One of my favorite things about cloth diapers is that most of them have snap fastening options, which I love.  Not only do they keep baby out of his own diaper, but they last forever. 

Unfortunately, whenever I mentioned cloth diapering to my in-laws, they gave me the “yeah, you will save money, but think of all the poop” look.  I know my mother-in-law had tried cloth diapers when my husband was a baby and she didn’t last very long.  I tried to explain that cloth diapers have come a long way since he was in diapers, but they had to see them to believe it.  She is still a little hesitant about them when she cares for the boys, but she is slowly warming up to them.

I think the biggest thing that discouraged me in the beginning is the cost.  Buying a full supply from one of the larger brands can put a serious dent in your pocketbook.  Thankfully there are tons of lesser known companies that make almost the same thing, except soooo much cheaper. Yay!  Another thing that did not occur to me at the time is that you don’t have to buy them all at once; and they don’t have to be all the same kind.  Oh, the possibilities! Once you find a kind that you and your baby love, you can go bananas; but you have the ability to shop around a little bit until you find out what works for you.  Cloth diapering is still not cheap when you look at the upfront cost, but in the long run it will save so much money!

We have been using cloth for about 6 months, and I absolutely love them.  I’m not saying that there aren’t times when I have a hundred other things to do, and the diapers just don’t get washed that day.  There are also times when I have errands to run and frankly disposables are just easier to take places.  These are some of the fabulous things about cloth diapering. It is not an all or nothing situation, yet you are still saving money (and helping the environment) in the long run.

 
I hope this helps more people decide to go with cloth diapers.  They are fun, affordable, and oh my word there is nothing cuter than a cloth diapered butt. Even if it doesn’t encourage people to make the switch to cloth, I hope you are able to learn from my experiences.  And always, always make sure your baby has more than just a diaper on when taking a nap.  :o)

By Rochelle Lund

Monday, September 26, 2011

Choosing Cloth in a Disposable World

If someone would have asked me a year ago if I were going to use cloth diapers on my soon-to-be-born baby girl, I would have laughed in their face.  Ewwwww.  Cloth diapering meant that I would be a lot closer to my daughter’s, um, poo, then I felt necessary.  Also, it just seemed like way, way too much work. 
           
I had several friends that were choosing cloth for a variety of reasons.  Cost effectiveness, environmental concerns, etc.  I had figured out how to get some great disposable diaper deals with some online stores, so cost really wasn’t an issue for me.  As far as the environmental factor, well, we bring our own bags to the grocery store, line dry most of our clothes, and drive a hybrid for crying out loud, so I felt like I was compensating for our disposable choice. 
           
Or was I?
           
When my daughter was about eight months old, I started doing a little research, and I was appalled at what I discovered.  Disposable diapers are taking over our landfills, and sticking around for centuries.  The waste was leaking into the soil, causing further damage, and I was contributing to the disaster at a rate of about 6 diapers a day! 
           
After reading some testimonials and discovering that some parents actually enjoy cloth diapering, well, I decided to try it out.  And by “try it out”, I mean I just jumped right in.  I had enough disposable diapers left to diaper my daughter for about a week, and I challenged myself to be full-time cloth diapering before I ran out.
           
I decided to start off with pre folds and covers because they were the more economical choice, not entirely realizing that they were also the more “difficult” choice.  Only they weren’t that difficult.  They were a little more time consuming than a disposable, yes, but I got the hang of them pretty fast.  I also discovered rather quickly that I would be saving money with cloth diapers.  A lot of money.  Especially since I can re-use the diapers when we decided to have another baby.   
           
The longer I did it, the more I found that I loved about cloth diapering.  I loved that each time I purchased a new cover or diaper, I was making an investment in something that I could use for a second child down the road.  I loved knowing that my diapers won’t be taking up residence in my city dump.  I loved that my daughter’s bottom was being surrounded by soft, fluffy material instead of horrible chemicals.  I love the conversations that arise when people see my daughters diapers, and that she can‘t “help“ me take them off herself.  Also, (and I know this shouldn’t be so important, but still…), I love all of the colors and designs that are made!  I can coordinate my daughters covers and diapers to her outfits if I want!  So much fun!
           
I’ve learned in the last five or so months that cloth diapering isn’t difficult at all, no matter what type of cloth diapers you choose.  It was a little intimidating at first, but now I really have a lot of fun with all of it!  Making the switch to cloth diapers has been one of the best environmental and health-conscious decisions I have ever made.

By Summer DuPree

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cloth Diapers - Elegant Mommy Can Help!

How can Elegant Mommy help you with all of your cloth diapering needs?

This post is actually harder for me to write than most people might think it should be. I'm really not very good at trying to "sell" people on things. I would much rather educate people and let them make an educated decision. So, that is the direction that this post is going to take.

Elegant Mommy has never aimed to sell every kind of diaper out there. We aim to sell products that we can stand behind. I have always firmly believed that if the products are quality and the people are passionate and doing things for the right reasons, the products will sell themselves. There are some major brands that we no longer carry. Does this hurt our sales numbers at the end of the year? Possibly. However, we will never sacrifice our integrity to make a few dollars. You can feel confident that any of the products you purchase from Elegant Mommy come from a good company that has a solid reputation. 

Every employee who works at Elegant Mommy has experience with the products they are explaining to you. We are going to take the time to ask you questions about your situation and try to put you in a product that meets your needs. If we do not know an answer, we will do everything possible to get you the answers. 

Everyone at Elegant Mommy is also a real Mom. We all have kids (many of whom come to work with us on a daily basis) and we can give you a real life testimonial of what worked at different ages & stages for each of our children. Each child is different and we are able to learn from each other and share those experiences with our customers.

And last, but not least, we can save you money! We really try to utilize every sale that companies authorize for us and we allow you to combine those sales with our in-store discounts when possible. We have a stamp card program that allows you to earn 1 stamp for every $20 spent in our store. When you get 5 stamps, we'll give you $5 off your next purchase. We also have starter kits and bulk discount pricing available in store (for quantities starting at just $100). 

Getting started in cloth diapers doesn't need to be confusing and costly. Elegant Mommy can help you make sense of all of it!

By Shelly Gaddis, Owner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

AppleCheeks Review

As you read the other day in my Homemade Diaper blog post, my favorite diapers in our stash are the ones I made myself. I must say, though, that my AppleCheeks diaper is a *very* close second! I was so excited when I got the diaper to review…the lining is SO super duper soft! I honestly can’t even explain how truly soft it is…it’s heavenly to touch and just the thing you want touching your baby’s most sensitive parts.

I also love the insert. It’s “Two layers of ultra-soft 70% rayon from bamboo/30% organic cotton fleece” (taken from their website) that can be folded into thirds for ultimate absorbency, and can I just tell you how SOFT it is, too?? It is fine to either be tucked into the envelope cover or right next to baby’s skin. It’s AWESOME!

The diaper as a whole is very trim fitting. In fact, it’s almost too trim fitting J. My baby isn’t very big, and honestly his cloth diapers help hold his pants up. When he occasionally wears disposables, we have a difficult time keeping some of his pants up and often have to pin them. Our AppleCheeks diaper is so trim fitting that I almost have to do that when he wears it as well. I don’t actually have to pin, but it gives you an idea of how trim it really is.

I’ve never had a leaking problem with this diaper, and I love how there is elastic in the front and the back instead of just the back. I could see how with a newborn (whose poops can be…shall we say…explosive) the front elastic would be super handy.

I think my favorite feature, though, is the envelope system. It’s very similar to a pocket diaper, but you *don’t have to un-stuff* to wash it!!!! Do you realize how cool that is? I *love* it when I realize I’ve put that diaper on him, because I get to simply throw it in the diaper pail and not worry about un-stuffing.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this diaper system to anyone. I love the design, fabric used, absorbency, and ease in washing and care. They have great customer service, too – double bonus!

By Evie DeWitt

Featured Product Day: AppleCheeks

Ilana is co-owner of AppleCheeks™ Reusable Diapers and mother to three girls - Azure, Phoenix and Ione. She's also the owner of A Jaded Mama, a blog about mothering, small business ownership and all things green. When she's not busy coming up with new product ideas, working on social media campaigns and co-managing the business, you'll find her babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, raising school-aged children and reading.
Amy is the other co-owner of AppleCheeks™ Reusable Diapers and mom to three boys - Bailey, Davray, Sacha, and to baby DAUGHTER, River. She's a dedicated and very attached parent and just adores the company of her enormous, gorgeous boys. When she's not busy juggling the company finances, talking on the phone with suppliers and trying to talk Ilana down off a cliff, you'll find her very involved in her community activities and enjoying the great outdoors.
AppleCheeks makes a variety of products such as reusable swim diapers, washable breastpads, a gentle cleansing solution to use with washable plush AppleCheeks wipes, to name just a few.  

However...AppleCheeks signature product is our beloved envelope cover:

These gorgeous diapers combine effective leak control and the latest advances in textile technology with attractive styling. They are simply the best looking, trimmest-fitting, most wonderfully absorbent reusable diapers going!

Not only does the advanced design of the AppleCheeks cover mean more convenience, but there’s also less bulk than the leading competition, resulting in a sleek and stylish look!  Two rows of snaps allow for separate adjustment at the tummy and leg openings for an uncompromising fit. And the two step system, designed to fit babies from 7 to approximately 18lbs, and 16lbs to potty training, means far fewer trips to the store when baby grows and far less of a strain on your pocketbook!

  • Elastic at legs and waist for snug fit and the ultimate in leak control.
  • Unique design to minimize leakage, incorporating a state-of-the-art absorbent inner.
  • 8 beautiful colours and 2 prints of waterproof covers to appeal to a wide range of tastes. 

Unprecedented support system AppleCheeks washable diapers come with full customer support!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giveaway: AppleCheeks

Thursday, 9/22/11 is our next "Featured Product" day, where we will be featuring AppleCheeks.

We will be posting a product review, a guest post from AppleCheeks, and in addition, they are sponsoring a giveaway of a Little Bundle (one diaper system) to one lucky Elegant Mommy reader in the US or Canada!

Ok, so how do you enter to win? It's pretty easy:

~ Simply enter a comment on this post with your full name
~ If you "follow" our blog, make a note of it in the comment for an extra chance to win!
~ If you "like" our Facebook page, make a note of it in the same comment for another extra chance to win!

That's it!

Please only enter one time, and we will randomly draw the winner on Thursday around 6:00 p.m., on AppleCheeks' Feature Product day. The winner will be announced on Thursday evening both here and on our Facebook page, so make sure to check back.

Good luck!!

***********Update for more entry possibilities!!*************

****~ If you "like" AppleCheeks Facebook page (here),
****~ If you "follow" AppleCheeks blog (here),

Please enter a new comment if you've already entered stating you have "liked" and/or "followed" them, or if you are a new entry, make a note in your original comment for two new and additional ways to win!

*****Congratulations to Esther, our winner!*****
*****Thanks for playing everyone, and be looking for new giveaways coming your way!*****

Homemade Cloth Diapers - Where to Begin...?

So you’ve made the decision to cloth diaper your baby – great choice! But what do you do if you don’t have a lot of money to put into diapers? Perhaps you are handy with a sewing machine (or even just learning/re-acquainting yourself to sewing, like I was) and want to make your own dipes. Well, you can make diapers for next to nothing, or by spending a lot. If you are interested in spending basically nothing and simply using things from around your house, I recommend this blog post. It has a TON of information on making your own diapers super cheaply.

I decided to go middle of the road and spend a little money to get started, get a stash started, and experiment a little with what I wanted to make and do with it. I think in all I spend about $70 or so on the fabric and notions I used (I’ll get to that in a minute) for our stash. I basically just looked online and found the most inexpensive place to purchase the kinds of fabric I wanted. At the time I ended up purchasing from both Celtic Cloths and Wazoodle. I don’t know if they are still the least expensive, but at the time they were J. I also did a LOT of reading online about how moms across the globe make their own diapers. I found a TON of information at this site (scroll down toward the middle/bottom of the page for the “do it yourself” info), but seriously – do an Internet search on making your own diapers – there’s unending amounts of information out there to help you!


One of my first AIOs. Cute, huh? :)

Ok, so on to what I personally did.

I was really new to cloth diapering, only having been using cloth for a short amount of time. I had purchased a very small stash at Diapappallooza, so had been using the rest of my disposables in-between washings. So, I just jumped in and ordered some fabric, not really knowing what I needed or wanted. I knew I wanted PUL because I wanted to make pockets or AIOs or some version of both. I also knew I wanted to try the newly developed ZORB for soaker material because I had read that it was this new and amazingly absorbent material that wouldn’t wick or leak with compression, etc. So, basically I just needed to figure out what I wanted as my pocket and AIO liners. I decided to try a couple different things. I got a micro-fleece which is a thinner version of a fleece, so it’s soft but not so thick, and a lining jersey that wicks moisture away from baby’s skin and into the soaker.

As for the notions, I decided I wasn’t going to invest in a plastic snap press until I was confident I could do this well and maybe sell some diapers. So, that left me with getting some hook and loop. I got mine from Celtic Cloths and found that the Touch Tape brand is really quite awesome. It’s very durable and extremely “sticky”. It hasn’t even come close to wearing out. The only other thing I needed was elastic, so I got that along with everything else. I used  3/8” elastic on my dipes.

After I got all my fabric and notions in the mail (that was an exciting day, let me tell you!), I set out to find a good diaper pattern that would work and would be something I could start out with. Well, I found a good (and most importantly, easy!) AIO pattern and set out to make some. I was SO happy with how they turned out…they were super cute and they fit well. The only problem was that they leaked. Argh. Well, I decided to make my own pattern based on my favorite features of some of the diapers I had. I made some pocket diapers with PUL and the jersey lining and they turned out SO good! I loved them. The only problem was that they leaked. Seriously? I couldn’t believe it! I looked them over and over and over…there was no liner peeking out, they fit him snuggly but not too snuggly, and I was even using two soakers. Finally I figured it out. It was the ZORB. For some reason, it simply doesn’t work for my son. I read online where there was another lady whose son couldn’t use ZORB because it leaked, but it worked for her daughter. Strange, huh? Well, when I used the microfiber inserts that came with my Diapappallooza diapers, there was no leaking. Hallelujah!!
Hind view of my son's bum today
(literally - as I'm typing this, he is wearing this pocket diaper I made)

Though I was super happy to make this discovery, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on new soaker material, microfiber or otherwise, so I went an alternate route. One of my friends told me about an online forum she had seen about cloth diapering on the cheap, and she had mentioned some of the moms there used microfiber cleaning rags for their inserts (you know, the kind you find in the auto-care aisle at Target, Walmart, Menard’s, etc.). So, I went to the auto-care aisle and purchased some (I think at Walmart I got a package of 12 or 15 for about $10). They worked like a dream! I also found a package of 15 at Menard’s recently for $3.00 after rebate. THREE DOLLARS! Yep, I have decided that auto-care cloths are the way to go for my babe’s diaper soakers J.

Front View of this afternoon's dipe
I guess the bottom line when making your own diapers it to NOT give up! You may need to try several things before you figure out what works best for you and your baby. There are *many many many* different fabric choices for your diapers…from things around your house to very fancy material that you can purchase online. It’s just a matter of your confidence in your sewing skills, budget, and vision for your diaper stash. After all the trial and error I experienced, the diapers I have made are definitely my favorites in our stash. Not that I don’t love some of our purchased dipes too, I just think there’s some unique satisfaction and pride in making something out of nothing and being able to take care of my baby’s bum by making fluff with all the love and care that I have for him. After all - it’s all because of love.

By Evie DeWitt

Monday, September 19, 2011

Childbirth Professional Day - Meet Evie DeWitt

1.       What is your Childbirth Profession?
I am a Birth Doula

2.       Describe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth.
A birth doula is someone who is there to support you throughout pregnancy and be there through labor and delivery. A doula will help you have the birth that you want, help you get the information you need to make educated decisions throughout pregnancy and labor/delivery, and will also help your husband or partner help you in the most effective way he can. A doula can help in SO many ways. Research has shown that having a doula present at birth can decrease cesareans by 50%, decrease length of labor by 25%, decrease pitocin use by 40%, decrease requests for pain meds by 30%, decrease forceps deliveries by 40%, decrease epidural requests by 60%, increase overall birthing satisfaction, promote longer breastfeeding, encourage parent/baby bonding, and help partners participate with confidence*. If you are thinking about hiring a doula, don’t think anymore about it. Just do it. You will be so glad you did – it is money very well spent!

3.       Why did you get started in your profession?
I got really passionate about birth while preparing for the birth of our second baby. There was a major insurance "snafu", and we had to figure something out. Our choices basically boiled down to: Pay somewhere around $10,000-$13,000 out of pocket for an uncomplicated normal hospital delivery, or have the baby at home for a fraction of that amount. We chose to have the baby at home. During the process of preparing for our birth, I got really familiar with the laws in this state and how women and families aren’t allowed to have the provider of their choice attend their births (specifically in out of hospital births). In my case, I was not able to have my midwife attend my birth, because she didn’t have the “right” qualifications. It doesn’t matter that she is credentialed by a national organization and has attended well over 700 out of hospital births. If she had been present at my birth she would have gone to jail.

But, I digress. Anyway, I had an unattended home birth, and it was wonderful for so many reasons. The main reason, though, is that I was SO educated about birth at that point…so much more than my first hospital birth. Do you know why? Because I had to be. I didn’t have a choice to depend on someone else to know everything for me, guide me, and tell me what to do (whether or not it was the best thing for me or what I wanted). My husband, mom, and I had to know it, because we didn’t have a choice.

After I delivered our son on Christmas morning 2009 after a very easy, relaxed, and amazing labor, I got really involved with South Dakota Safe Childbirth Options, which is a grassroots organization formed to help influence change in our state’s laws and views of home birth and birthing options for families in South Dakota. That year (2010), there was a bill that we had put through to allow birth centers to be licensed and run in South Dakota. I was devastated when it didn’t pass (I was really new to the whole process, and it just seemed so obvious to me that it should pass). I mean – birth centers are proven safe options for families across the country – why in the world would SD legislators think that families here are so different and shouldn’t be afforded the option?

Well, I was doing a LOT of thinking about the bill, and how so many women and families are being robbed of a wonderful and empowering birth experience simply because they don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t have many options. They don’t know that they can demand better service from their providers, they don’t know that they actually have options – they don’t have to do whatever their provider says they should do, they don’t know that they CAN trust their bodies to do what God made them to do, and that they CAN birth their babies free from intervention (most of the time). It made me extremely sad, until it hit me. Even though I wasn’t able to help all families in South Dakota have options and be in control of their own births, I could help one. at. a. time. - all I needed to do was become a doula. What a revelation!  I have made it my personal mission to ensure that each and every one of my clients has a kind of birth that they can look back on with fondness, pride, and confidence – no matter what happens during their labor and/or delivery.

4.       In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy?
I kind of touched on this above, but my personal childbirth philosophy is that every woman (no matter what she’s been told throughout her life) is designed by God to give birth to her own baby. Birth matters to moms and their partners. It is a life changing experience, and can be either amazingly wonderful or devastating. I believe that with the right information, education, encouragement, and self awareness, women can and will make the right decision for themselves and their baby. They just need to be given the chance. As a doula, I want to help them have that chance. I work with women and their partners before the birth of their precious baby to get them information on birth and possible decisions that may need to be made when the time comes. Knowledge is power. If they are informed ahead of time and know what their goal is (even if it isn’t what my personal goal would be), then we all can be on board and know beforehand how we can help her achieve her goals. With her partner on the same page and me advocating for them, together we can help ensure an experience where she doesn’t feel pressure to make one decision or another, but where she knows where she’s going, and has the tools to get there.

5.       If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be?
First of all: You are MADE to do this! Believe in your body and your baby – you have nothing to fear…no matter what you’ve seen or heard about childbirth throughout your life. Get past all that and start fresh. This is *your* birth. Not a copy of someone else’s in your family, circle of friends, stranger on the bus, or diva from a movie. YOU CAN DO THIS, and it doesn’t have to be the horrible, terrifying experience so many would have you believe.

Secondly, be informed about EVERYTHING! Do your research ahead of time: hire a doula, attend a *good* childbirth education class, and do a LOT of reading.

6.       How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who?
I have been practicing as a doula since August of 2010, and I gained my ICEA certification in January of 2011.

7.       Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and childbirth support?
Helping Hands Birth Support
605*630-8699
Facebook: Helping Hands Birth Support

8.       Where do you practice?
I live in Mitchell, SD, and can travel up to 2 hours for my clients (maybe more if circumstances allow). So, this means I can travel to Sioux Falls, Pierre, Yankton, Watertown, Huron, Brookings, and anywhere in between J


* From Klaus & Kennell 'Mothering the Mother'

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thirsties Reviews

Since today is Thirsties' Featured Product Day, here are some reviews on Thirsties' products from our readers. Thanks to Alisha, Jessica A, and Jessica W for contributing some reviews - you ladies rock!

Well, at the moment I only own two Thirsties Duo wraps in size two for my little man. He is almost 20 months and is pushing 31lbs. They are Velcro not snaps as I like that I can get a customizable fit with the Velcro. I use prefolds and fitteds with them and LOVE them. They are by far my favorite cover. They wash so well, seem very durable and the fit is just amazing. The double leg gussets have held in the messiest of messes, and to boot they are a great price. I love that they have solid colors as well as prints. Even though I am Canadian, I really LOVE the fact that all the Thirsties products are made in the USA.

My husband and I are trying for baby number two and I plan on purchasing the Thirsties Duo Wraps in size one for the next baby. They are just THAT good.

~Alisha

When I first started with cloth diapering with my first daughter I bought some of everything to try them all out.  She was quite tiny and so I wound up with a lot of Thirsties covers that I used over prefolds and then I found a sale on a bunch of All-In-Ones.  I really liked the covers as they did a great job of containing even the biggest of blowouts and after my daughter outgrew them I was able to use the small covers as a swim diaper right up until she was potty trained.

In the first months it was great because I could use the covers multiple times, but I wound up moving away from the covers and prefolds system by the time she was 4 months because she was always soiling the cover each time and I found that the pocket diaper system was better for us.

I liked the All-In-Ones because of the ease of having the diaper ready to go, and they had a pocket so I put an extra hemp insert in them for more absorbency.  The extra smalls were perfect for infants and nice and trim!  Again, though, we moved away from those as she got older and could fit into the FuzziBunz I had also purchased because she was a heavy pee-er and even with the extra hemp insert, it just wasn't enough.  They also took a lot longer to line dry and you couldn't use a high heat if you put them in the dryer. 

They are great diapers and I would recommend them, even though we found they weren't the best long term solution for us.

~Jessica A

We have been cloth diapering exclusively for 4 months now since my son was born.  When I was pregnant we researched cloth diapers and came to the conclusion that we wanted to find brands that he could wear right away rather than buying disposables until he got a little bigger.  We bought 3 Thirsties Duo Wrap covers (Size One) and 12 infant prefold diapers to start our stash.  We thought we would just use these to fill in the time until he could wear one size pockets but we are still using them today.  Other brands exaggerate their sizing but Thirsties size one have fit from 8-14 lbs and still have room to grow (they are listed as fitting 6-18lbs). 

I always recommend that those who want to try cloth diapering start with these because the covers are so affordable.  I like that the cover can be reused several times a day and I don't have to pull the dirty prefold out before throwing it in the wash. 

The quality of Thirsties Duo Wrap covers is amazing.  Compared to the elastic on some of our pocket diapers, the Thirsties covers are showing no wear whatsoever.  I would suggest if you plan to use them full time to look into snaps because the aplix on our original 3 covers is starting to wear after 200-250 uses.  Overall Thirsties are a great combination of price and quality.

~Jessica W

Featured Product Day: Thirsties

Welcome to Thirsties Featured Product Day! Following is an interview with one of the co-owners of this wonderful little company. Take your time and enjoy their story :)


1. Tell us a little about your company and how it started.

Erin Kimmett, the founder, became infatuated with the sewing machine and all its wonders beginning at a very young age. Her grandmother, Pearl, was a truly gifted craftswoman and eventually become a local celebrity in her artful expressions. Pearl's father passed away when she was just a baby leaving she and her mother to fend for themselves in a poverty-stricken tenement of New York City. Pearl was taught to sew professionally alongside learning her ABCs and tying her shoes. Though Pearl was only a child, she and her mother worked tirelessly together as sewers for a large clothing manufacturing company to try and make ends meet. Despite the fact that she was forced to sew in lieu of a formal education in order to keep bread on the table for herself, Pearl was enamored with the needle and thread and all the limitless possibilities of creativity it provided. As an adult, she continued to sew for both hobby and profession. Never was she seen without a needle and thread in her hand. In due time, she graciously passed along her gift and her unquenchable thirst for creativity and sewing to her granddaughter, Erin.

Pearl has since passed, but her love for sewing is still expressed in Thirsties Cloth Diapers today. As a new cloth diapering mom herself, Erin couldn’t find a diaper cover that quite suited the needs of her baby, and therefore set out to create her own design of waterproof wraps. The first covers were patterned, cut, and sewn on her dining room table with her secondhand sewing machine and went through several tweaks over the course of 18 months before they were finally released! It was a painstaking process, but all the hard work and innovation paid off and resulted in one of the best selling diaper covers on the market today.

Since May of 2010 Thirsties has been owned by my father and me. We had been looking for looking for an environmentally-friendly business in an positively trending industry to acquire. After 9 months of searching, we were extremely excited to find Thirsties. It was in an industry that we genuinely believed in and immediately recognized that the company had a lot of positive momentum. We feel fortunate to be involved with such a great company in such a wonderful industry.


2. What would you like our readers to know about your company and your mission?
The mission of Thirsties, Inc. is to make it easy and affordable for every family to choose cloth while simultaneously investing in our local economy and sustainable business practices.
We are committed to building our business in a sustainable manner by focusing on the health of our babies and the environment. Only the best USA-sourced components are chosen for our products in order to reduce our carbon footprint, to help support domestic textile mills and our local economy, and to ensure that Thirsties diapers will last wash after wash. We are committed to creating only the highest quality products and dedicated to providing exceptional design and unparalleled performance while saving you money.
We are very proud of the fact that all Thirsties products are USA-made by a group of very talented women, many of whom work in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. With your support, we are able to employ more staff each year, helping to support more families in our local community.

3. Tell us about some of the products you offer and their benefits
We are probably best known for our wraps or covers, but some of our other products are really exciting too. Below are a few other notable products:

Duo Diapers: a two piece diaper system that has 5 layers of hemp/cotton blend and 2 layers of microfiber terry, seven thirsty absorbent layers in all. The ultra-soft microfleece liner on the inside protects baby’s skin from wetness and also resists staining. The duo openings featured in Thirsties Duo Diaper enable easy insert stuffing from either side of the diaper and also make for easy cleaning

Duo Fab Fitteds: our very popular fitted diaper crafted from stretchy, buttery soft textiles, and the internal soaker is composed of spongy, microfiber terry that can absorb up to seven times its weight in liquid.  Our Tunnel design allows for stuffing additional absorbency when needed, better washing and quicker drying.

Duo Hemp Prefolds: we think we are revolutionizing the most widely used cloth diaper in the world. Ordinary prefolds are bulky and take a long time to dry. Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefolds are designed for the freer flow of air and washing water-each panel is only 2 layers thick, permitting thorough cleansing with little effort and quick drying times. Our custom hemp jersey is as soft as your favorite t-shirt and it's knitted with love right here in the USA. Hemp is an ideal diaper fabric as it displays antimicrobial properties, is many times more durable, and is more absorbent than cotton. This translates into a very trim and effective cloth diaper with a hefty amount of absorbing power.


We are always working on new prints and products. We will be launching a few new products in the next couple months. Please follow our blog at thirstiesbaby.com or like us on Facebook to stay up to date on our latest and greatest.

Thank you,
Sadler Merrill

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Washing, Drying, and Other Considerations for Cloth Diapers

How do I wash cloth diapers? Is there anything special I need to know before beginning to wash them? What about drying? Is there anything else I need to know about cloth diaper care?

These questions were big ones for me when I first started cloth diapering. I knew enough to know that I needed to ask the questions, I just didn’t know the answers. I did some searching online which is where I got most of my information, though I did talk to some friends who were familiar with cloth diaper care and they filled me in, too.

I’d say the main things you need to know before you begin your cloth diaper care, are: laundry detergent DOES matter, high efficiency front loader washers wash differently than top loaders, DON’T use fabric softener, and DON’T use regular diaper rash creams.

I found a couple wonderful sites that tell you what laundry detergents are best. This one is the most comprehensive chart that I found. They even have the kind of detergent that we use listed, which is not something you can purchase in a store. I was pretty excited to find this chart. One thing that I have definitely learned, is that your water, your baby’s skin, and your type of washer makes a difference. Hard water will wash differently than soft water, your baby may have skin that reacts to certain types of detergent, and because HE washers use less water, you have to take a little more time to wash them…I use a cold rinse cycle first, then run a hot/cold heavy duty cycle with extra rinse at the end. The bottom line is that you may need to try a few different kinds of detergents before finding the perfect one for you and your baby’s bum based on your water, baby’s skin, and washer. Elegant Mommy does carry detergent, so we would be a great place to start! Check out our selection either in one of our retail store locations or here J

So now that we’ve covered washing, what about drying? Well, you have a couple choices. You can either hang dry or dry them in your dryer. I do a combination, depending on how quickly I need them dry J. It is a very good thing to dry your dipes outside in the sun as often as possible. It airs them out nicely, and the sun takes care of any stains that might be on them. For my pocket diapers, I like to dry the actual dipes by hanging them when I can, and I dry the inserts in the dryer. Technically you can dry all of your diapers all of the time, but I’ve heard that the PUL (the waterproof fabric in pockets, AIOs, and covers) can break down quicker if you do. I’ve also heard that drying them all the time can make them look more worn and lock in odors. So, do whatever works best for you, but know that hang drying has advantages over machine drying.

So, as for special care, first of all, do NOT use fabric softeners. There are some out there that state they are safe for cloth diapers, but it’s going to be easier just not to use softeners at all. Fabric softeners make fabric non-absorbent by creating a seal on the fibers. Secondly, do NOT use regular diaper rash creams. They, also create a seal on the fibers making them water resistant – this makes sense since the point of diaper rash creams is to create a barrier to wetness for your baby’s skin. If you find you’re your cloth diapers are not as absorbent as they should be, you will need to strip them. I recommend doing an online search to find out how to strip them…there are several methods, and you’ll need to find the one that works best for you. Thirdly, dirty diapers should be stored in a container that allows airflow while waiting to be washed. The more oxygenated the container, the less likely you are to have a smell problem when you wash, and you are also less likely to have an ammonia problem. Ammonia can actually burn your baby’s bum, and let me tell you from experience – it is NOT fun to deal with! My baby got ammonia burn blisters on his butt and penis. I felt SO bad for him…he woke up in the middle of the night just crying and crying...and he rarely wakes up in the night. So, if you can avoid creating ammonia, I highly recommend it!

Well, that’s all for washing and drying dipes. I hope you find this helpful, and as always, if you have any questions, you can contact any one of us here at Elegant Mommy either here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or just stop in to the store or call anytime. Happy cloth diapering!

By Evie DeWitt

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giveaway: Thirsties

Friday, 8/16/11 is our next "Featured Product" day, where we will be featuring Thirsties.

We will be posting some product reviews, a guest post from Thirsties, and in addition, they are sponsoring a giveaway of a Duo Diaper, Duo Fab, and Duo Wrap of choice to one lucky Elegant Mommy reader!

Ok, so how do you enter to win? It's pretty easy:

~ Simply enter a comment on this post with your full name
~ If you "follow" our blog, make a note of it in the comment for an extra chance to win!

That's it!

Please only enter one time, and we will randomly draw the winners on Friday around 4:00 p.m., on Thirsties' Feature Product day. The winner will be announced on Friday afternoon both here and on our Facebook page, so make sure to check back.

Good luck!!

****Congratulations to our winner, Cassi Paulson!!!****

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cloth Diapering - How Do I Begin?

So, you’ve chosen the style of cloth diapers you want to go with. Whether it be prefolds for their economic qualities, All In Ones (AIOs) for their convenience and ease, fitteds for their super absorbancy, or pockets for their diversity, you now need to figure out what to do. What brand do you get? How many do you need? What do you do once you get them?  

As far as brands to choose from, there are hundreds! It can actually feel a little overwhelming (believe me, I know), but don’t worry – there are great ways to figure out which way to go. First of all, I would highly encourage you to check out Elegant Mommy’s Diapapallooza where you can purchase gently used diapers on consignment at a reasonable price. It is a fantastic way to check out different brands and styles and all at an affordable rate. I started out there when I began my cloth diaper journey at the beginning of the year. I got something like nine different diapers including several extra inserts for around $40. I was *ecstatic*! It didn’t take very long to figure out what I liked about some brands and didn’t like about others. Once I figured all that out it made it very easy for me to move on with cloth diapering and add more dipes to our collection. You could also look for used cloth diapers on Craigslist or Ebay…shoot, even your local paper might have some. Just take a look.

If you prefer to support work at home moms (WAHM’s), you can check out Etsy shops here. There are many amazing and wonderful products out there…it’s just a matter of taking the time to find them.

Maybe you prefer the “big dogs”…diapers like FuzziBunz, Rumparooz, gDiapers, etc. These products have been proven - many, many, many people love them, and they of course are backed with great customer service, warranties, and other perks that come with purchasing products from larger companies.

Ok. Now for the big question. How many do you need? Well, that kind of depends. First of all you need to think about how often you want to do laundry. Every day? Every other day? Or would you rather have a big enough stash that you don’t *have* to do laundry for 3-4 days? Your budget will have something to do with the answer to this question, but also you’ll want to take into consideration what stage of life your baby is in. Newborn babies pee and poop way more often than 9 month olds, who pee and poop way more often than toddlers who are pre-potty training/learning. If you decide to purchase one-size diapers that adjust with your baby as he or she grows, you will have plenty throughout the diaper cycle if you purchase them for your newborn who goes “oh-so-often”. You will find yourself having to do laundry less and less as time goes on, too – double bonus! So, if you figure you need to change your newborn approximately every 3 hours or so, that’s eight diapers a day. I would personally recommend having enough to get you through at least two days, or you will feel like you are *always* doing diaper laundry and don’t have time for your regular laundry. Remember, it takes some time to do a load of laundry, especially if you dry your covers on the line…you’ll need to be able to diaper your baby while you do that. Anyway, a simple math equation can answer this question, you just need to fill in the variables.

The last thing I’m going to cover in this brief “how to begin” post is what you need to do after you get them. The answer to this question depends on where you get them. If you are purchasing them used, I would recommend stripping them. This basically means washing them in a way that gets any potential buildup off of them and makes them as absorbent as possible. You never know where you are getting them from and how the previous owner took care of them, so this is a great first step. There are several ways to strip diapers, but I’m going to tell you about the way I used (and had success with). Basically, after I washed them, I rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed some more in the hottest water I could. During the rinse cycles, I stopped the washer and if there were bubbles (not agitation bubbles, but the kind of bubbles that stayed after sitting for a bit) I rinsed them again. I kept doing that until there were no more bubbles. It took many, many cycles because we have a front loading HE washer which doesn’t use as much water as top loaders, but it was definitely worth it. If you are interested in learning other methods of stripping, just do an Internet search for stripping cloth diapers – there are several really great blogs dedicated to cloth diapers and their care.

If you purchase brand new diapers, you will need to prep them. That basically means washing them and drying them at least once, but up to several times. This optimizes the absorbency, cleans them (after all, they will be next to your baby’s most sensitive parts), fluffs up the fabric’s fibers and makes them not “leaky”.

No matter what, just do your best not to get overwhelmed, jump in, and ask for help if you need it. There are tons of resources available to help you through it! Happy cloth diapering!

~Evie

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cloth Diaper Types and Styles

Cloth diapering is a fun journey with so many choices. You are never "stuck" in one type. I will go over the different types of cloth diapers from the pro's to the con's.  Some babies do better with one type, some parents prefer one over the other, and defiantly who is using them, such as grand parents or babysitters should be taken into consideration when choosing a cloth diaper that is right for your family.

AIO- All In One-
If you are looking for the easiest to use cloth diapers, all in ones or AIO as they are often referred to, are the easiest of all. These diapers have multiple layers of absorbent fabric on the inside and a waterproof material on the outside. Some brands use snaps others use appix, like velcro, to fasten. Many all in one diapers also come with a build in pad for additional absorbency or have a pocket to add extra inserts for night time. These diapers will come in sized diapers so you can  have one diaper per size your child is in, such as xxs (newborn) all the way up to xl. They will also come in one size diaper that you can use from about 3 months all the way till potty trained.

Pros:
Easy
waterproof
absorbent
cute fabrics to choose from

Cons:
can be tricky to make sure they get clean
hold in smells
cant always adjust absorbency

Pocket.
The most popular diapers are probably the pocket diapers. Pockets have a waterproof outer, made of PUL which feels like a swimsuit, but waterproof to protect the baby's clothing.  These diapers require an insert to be place inside the pocket for absorbency. The inserts are made of several different types of absorbent material. These diapers must be washed every change. Like AIO diapers they can be fastened with either snaps or appix.  These diapers also are either offered in sized diapers or one sized diapers that will grow with your child. Typically they are the trimmest diapers for under clothing. the absorbency can be customized for your baby by adding or removing inserts.

Pros:
Easy
Waterproof
Customized absorbency
cute fabric choices

Cons:
Have to remove the insert for washing
Must prep the diaper by stuffing an insert in after washing
Can be more expensive

Fitted:

Fitted cloth diapers are not waterproof. They are made of absorbent materials, and can be thicker then the aio, or the pocket diapers. Fitted diapers will need a waterproof cover in order to keep the baby's clothing dry. Fitted diapers are fastened with pins, snappi, appix, or snaps. they are also either one sized or sized. Fitted diapers are a good start with newborns so they can have as much air as possible to their skin.  Most fitted diapers can go a few hours without feeling soaked.  These are bulkier diapers due to the amount of absorbent materials used.

Pros:
Easy
Can  customize absorbency with snap in soakers
Can tell when baby is wet
good for babies who are sensitive to other diapers

Cons:
Thicker fabric means can be more difficult to get clean
Will leak if not covered with a waterproof barrier


Prefold:

Prefold diapers are the "old fashioned" type of diapers. Old fashioned doesn't mean
out dated! Prefold diapers are a very simple diaper to start out with, they are the most inexpensive diaper, so they are great for a growing newborn baby. There are so many different types of folds you can learn about for customizing the absorbency for your baby. Prefold diapers are a few layers of cotton sandwiched together by sewing it into a rectangle shape, that is then folded and secured with pins or a snappi. Prefolds come in several sizes. A cover is also needed with a prefold as like a fitted diaper it will leak on to clothing or a parents lap if not covered. these are not as absorbent as a fitted diaper, as there are fewer layers of fabric.

Pros:
Inexpensive
Can use the prefolds as inserts in other diapers
Works for most baby's who are more sensitive
Come clean easily since there is less fabric for the soap to go through

Cons:
Folding can be tricky
They will leak if not covered

By Melissa Oien