Friday, July 31, 2015

Cloth Diapering Systems Explained

Why are there SO MANY kinds of cloth diapers?!?

So you are thinking about using cloth and started surfing the net - soon you were lost and confused - there are literally hundreds of manufacurers (mostly small home-based businesses, but also a few big companies) all making different kinds of cloth diapers - what gives? What it really boils down to is a matter of personal preference. Not all diapering systems work well on all kiddos or for all families. Different sizes and shapes of child work better with one style or another. Some parents cannot handle pins while others like the flexibility they offer. Some people want a "bullet-proof" system that never leaks while others are more concerned with an easy-to-care-for system that washes and dries quickly with little fuss. So how to even know what you are looking at?

There are many different types of cloth diapers on the market, and most are a far cry from the old-fashioned pins & plastic pants (though those are still available and super cheap!). I offer several different options and what system you use will depend on what you like best. You will probably have noted that there are many "mommy wars" about which system is best, but here is a brief rundown and then some specifics about my diapers:

Here are some basics with pros/cons and common name brands and example photos.

Pocket Diapers: (bum genius, fuzzibunz)

~ Easy to put on
~ can use snaps or velcro
~ can easily be made as a one size
~ tend to last longer than other diaper systems because they are lightweight and generally made of all man-made materials.

~ Removing the "stuffer" after an icky poop! Yuck! Nearly impossible to do without getting dirty (except with my front-stuffing pocket diapers!)
~ restuffing after washing

All-In-Ones: (Kushies)

~ Easy to use
~ most like disposables
      ~ no pieces to lose
      ~ no dissasembly/reassembly required
~ can be bulky, especially as a one-size
~ can take a LONG time to dry because of sewn in layers
~ do not come as clean because of sewn in layers
~ may not last as long because of their weight and the fact that the fabric may not dry all the way through the diaper, leading to mildewing and fabric weakness
~ absorbency is not customized

All-In-Twos: (Gro-Via, SoftBums)

~ Easy to use                          
~ go on like disposables
~ absorbency can often be customized to reduce bulk or hold more as needed
~ because the soaker part comes out it gets cleaner and dries faster than All-In-Ones

~ requires 2 or more pieces to keep track of
~ soakers are sometimes NOT interchangeable with other diaper systems as they may snap in
~ re-assembling after washing

Two-Part Systems (cover and diaper): (prefolds, gerber, bummis)

~ Most versatile system for sizing, absorbency, and multi-purpose use (such as swim diapers)
~ can use prefolds, snappis, pins, velcro, snaps, fitted diapers, contour diapers, or just POC (plain old cloth)
~ covers can often be reused without washing, just changing diaper portion to reduce number of covers needed
~ because these are generally simpler systems they often hold up longer working for multiple children without worn out parts/fabrics/elastics
~ covers can pull-up or wrap on, and be a variety of materials from PUL to wool to fleece, nylon, rubberized plastic, etc.
~ frequently the least expensive system to invest in and maintain

~ two-part system requires keeping track of more parts
~ some people HATE pins or even snappis
~ does require two steps when diapering on squirmy babies (diaper then cover)

What About MamaBear BabyWear's Systems?

I primarily offer Two-Part Systems, All-In-Twos, and Pocket Diapers. Why? Firstly is the value to you. These systems offer the most durability, interchangeability, adaptability, and sizeability.  I want you to be able to purchase ONE system and use it for your WHOLE cloth diaper adventure. I want to make you diapers that will last from birth to potty training for one or MORE children! This saves you $$.
For many of the reasons listed above I do not like true all-in-one systems. They wear out more quickly, hold odors and grow mildew, and are bulkier. You can get all the same benefits and more from an All-In-Two system, particularly with my fold-out quick-dry soakers.

You will find fitted diapers, hybrid prefolds, inserts, and PUL, wool, and fleece Covers in my store along with options for turning covers into All-In-Two systems and Potty Training systems in my Etsy store.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Converting to Cloth: Wipes, Towels, and (Eeek!) Toilet Paper

An updated repost of a blog I wrote for Etsy Cloth Diaper Team, Saturday, September 29, 2012

The "UnPaper" Solution

A relatively new product you might be seeing around is really a redo of a very old solution - long before the advent of paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissue there was POC (plain old cloth). People prettied it up (kerchiefs), cut it up (flour sacks), washed it up, and used it over again. Somewhere along the way we were sold on the "convenience" of throw-away products for all of these common reusables. In fact, it goes further every day! Now we have throwaway convenience in plates, diapers, mops, even CLOTHES!!

While admittedly this does a lot to reduce the "ick" factor in some cases, one might argue that all the time and money spent shopping on these disposables as well as the struggle we face when we unexpectedly run out drastically reduces the convenience factor. In addition, we are piling our landfills and dumps with tons and tons of paper products (often laden with poisonous chemicals), and chewing through natural resources at a stupendous rate.

Switching to Reusables

If you already cloth diaper this is a common-sense next step. It simplifies laundry and diaper changing because you can just toss the soiled wipes in with the soiled dipes, less mess, less fuss, less fuzz in the laundry.

However, cloth wipes can make sense for anyone, even if your kids are years out of diapers, or you don't have any children at all!

Commonly called "family cloth" and "unpaper", cloth wipes can take the place of nearly every disposable cleansing or hygiene paper product in the house. Replace the facial tissues in your house with a stack for runny noses. Stack some on a kitchen counter for quick spill clean-ups and other messes. Tuck them into your purse or diaper bag for on-the-go cleanups. Leave a stack in the bathroom to replace face-cleansing or makeup removal towels. Or you could take the ultimate plunge and replace your toilet tissue with a stack on the back of the toilet.

Pretty fabrics, and specialty items such as snap-together "unpaper towels" that unroll from a regular paper towel holder makes unpaper easy and appealing. Use a pail storage system and eliminate the "ick-factor" completely. When your pail is full just dump it into the washing machine, no touch, no mess. Wash, dry, restack, reuse.

Replacing even one product in your home such as paper towels or facial tissue can reduce landfill waste, save trees, improve your families health but reducing chemically laden wipes and cleansing cloths, cut your monthly expenses, and on top of all that, brighten your day with cheerful prints and colors!

So How Do I Get My Family to Go For This?

You might find it easiest to "ease" your family into the idea of cloth. Start with something simple like replacing paper napkins with cute cloth napkins. Once that's gone over well, get some "unpaper towels" and replace that roll in your kitchen with something cute that you can sew up yourself or purchase ready-made.

Who wouldn't want something gorgeous sitting on their kitchen counter instead of those 'printed' paper towels!

Once your family has gotten comfortable with using cloth around the house, you can try for something a little more personal: facial tissue. Replace the puffs with some super soft and comfy wipes like these:

When it becomes "the new normal" to use cloth for everything, you can take the ultimate plunge and suggest your family try replacing toilet paper with wipes. You might want to begin by offering both cloth and disposable toilet paper until everyone is comfortable with the transition, or you may even continue to offer both, but drastically cut down on your tissue usage. Place a small bucket (1-3 gallon) or trashcan with a lid next to the toilet. This is where soiled wipes will go until it's time to wash them. You can sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom to keep it fresh and odor-free until wash time, but you don't want to put water in it. When full, just dump it into your washing machine and wash on hot with a frangrance free soap. Voila! Never buy toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, kleenex, cotton balls, baby wipes, counter wipes, etc. etc. again!

Using Cloth Wipes

Cloth wipes can be used wet or dry. I keep mine in a Prince Lionheart wipes warmer in each bathroom and by the changing table in the nursery. To most effectively keep them warm I prefer the wet method, plus this makes them work more like "baby wipes". In the kitchen we keep them dry for mess clean-up.
To use the wet method, you can simply make your own wipes solution in a bowl and pour this over your wipes in your wipes container or warmer. There are a lot of simple wipes solutions that you can make at home with products you already own, or you can purchase ready-made solution or concentrates such as these which you mix with water. I'll post some recipes later. :o) 

Why Use Cloth Wipes?

There are a number of reasons to use cloth wipes and other "unpaper" products:

~ Better for the environment: less trees, less trucking/shipping on the production end, less trips to the store on your end, less solid waste
~ Pretty and customizable to match your decor
~ Less expensive over time
~ Healthier for sensitive skin
~ Customizable scents and cleansing products
~ Simplify cloth diapering
~ Never run out of toilet paper/paper towels/kleenex again
~ Never have to "limit" the amount of toilet paper or tissue used by your family members again
~ Reduce packaging waste in addition to paper product waste
~ Better for septic and sewage systems since you are reducing the solid waste passing through

Friday, July 24, 2015



The MamaBear BabyWear

Want to try cloth but having a hard time swallowing the expense involved in buying a whole stash of tons of different diapers, covers, sizes, and options?  Don't write it off! All you need is ONE COVER and some stuff you already have around the house to get started!

Try this:

Buy 1 MamaBear One Size Fits All Wool wrap or waterproof Diaper Cover.

Use it on your BabyBear instead of a disposable in the morning. You don't even need a diaper, just lay a folded soft towel (yes that is a stained up dish towel from my kitchen, lol), t-shirt, or other absorbent cotton material in the middle and snap or velcro it on. I've even used a pair of men's socks in a pinch early on!

Change as usual with a disposable next. Throw the soiled toweling in the wash (rinse off or shake off any solids in the toilet first). Wash and rinse the cover by hand (you can skip this part for a wool wrap that is only damp). Hang the cover to dry. By evening you can use your cover again!


 By replacing just 2 disposable diapers a day you are saving approximately $3.50 - $5.00 / week depending on what disposables you use. That's enough to buy another cover in just a couple of weeks! 

With 2 covers you can replace 4 disposables a day saving $7-10 a week, enough to buy another cover in a week or two!

With 3 covers you can almost completely replace the disposables by washing and rotating drying and just filling in with disposables when a cover isn't dry yet!


PUL Waterproof Covers
A good number to shoot for is 10-12 covers (6-8 wool). This allows you to accumulate enough soaker materials and covers (remember wool shouldn't be machine washed and doesn't need to be washed every time anyway) to do a load of diapering materials every other day, completely eliminating the need for disposables! 

Wool Covers

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sew Your Own Pad or Wipes Wallet

I originally wrote this post for the Etsy Cloth Diaper Team Blog on Monday, November 19, 2012. But since it has been buried there and can no longer be found by regular search I figured I'd repost it here.
Make Your Own Pad Wallet
A Waterproof Wallet for Carrying Mama Cloth, Wipes, Nursing Pads, and more!

This is a simple tutorial for sewing your own Pad Wallet. The design allows you to carry both clean spares and tuck away your used items. The waterproof inner locks away moisture and odors to keep your cleans (and your purse or diaper bag) clean and fresh.

Materials Needed:
- Waterproof fabric (PUL, fleece, wool, here I used a waterproofed nylon - the yellow fabric)
- An attractive outer fabric (wovens work best for stability, you can use cotton prints for a wide range of attractive and inexpensive choices)

Your sizing may vary some depending on the size of your pads. Some pads will need to be laid flat, here you can see that I've folded mine into little pouches. I lined two side by side so that I could carry at least 2 cleans and 2 dirties in this wallet. Cut your fabric slightly wider than the item you wish to carry and about 4 times longer. My pads are about 4" when snapped shut, so I made my wallet fabrics 16" long. (see picture at left) 

I created this pad wallet using a serger, but you could easily sew something similar by setting a close zig zag stitch on your sewing machine and overlapping the edges, or sewing them right sides together and then turning and topstitching.
For serging, place the fabrics wrong-sides together and serge the narrow ends.

Then lay the wallet-to-be attractive side down and fold up the top and bottom of the narrow ends approximately 1/4 of the way. Because my wallet is 16" long this meant nearly 4", leaving about 1/2" in the center clear (where you can see the yellow inner fabric in this picture) for clearance when folding a stuffed wallet. Pin, crease, or press lightly. This will form 2 "pockets" for storing your pads or other items.

Attach hook tape to one side and loop tape (velcro or aplix) to the other approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch from each pressed/creased edge. Alternately you could use snaps in two or three points (outer edges and center), or even sew on a zipper here if you like that kind of thing.

I have pinned the velcro on at either end near the raw edges. You want to be careful if pinning through PUL which retains all the little holes you make in it and can lead to wicking for really wet items like wipes. Open up the fabric folds and sew the velcro in place or add snaps at this time. You will be sewing them to the RIGHT side of the fabric, or the attractive print you want to show. You will have something that looks like this: