Dealing with ammonia in cloth diapers

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Jack “helping” with the diaper laundry

 

Ever since Jack became a toddler, we have been dealing with ammonia issues in our cloth diapers… Thankfully nothing bad ever happened like him getting a rash from it, but the diapers smelled really strongly right after he peed in them, although they smelled clean out of the washer. Our favorite diapers¬†are these Bumgenius 4.0s which we use with organic cotton inserts (after having tried wool and giving up because you can’t really launder them).

Here is a list of everything I tried (unsuccessfully) to fix the ammonia issue:

  • Different eco friendly detergents like Rockin Green (and their special ammonia bouncer), Molly’s suds, and Eco spouts
  • Boiling all my diapers on the stove
  • Using Oxygen bleach
  • Bac-out stain remover
  • Soaking the diapers for 1 hour to overnight
  • Doing extra rinses
  • Running inserts through the dishwasher on high heat (!)
  • Sunning them
  • Tea tree oil added to the wash

On facebook groups I often saw people saying that non-eco friendly detergents worked better, but my family has super sensitive skin, so I was thinking about it but ended up not trying it.

The solution I ended up using when I found some at my dad’s house and decided to try it was sadly: horribly un-eco-friendly Bleach! I saw that they had it so I figured at least I wouldn’t be buying a whole bottle of something toxic, and I put in about 1/4 cup with the wash cycle, and it completely worked. Plus, the inserts were so bright white which I never got with all the eco friendly methods (not that it matters how diaper inserts look). I was obviously sad that I had to end up using something so bad for the environment and possibly your health, but I made sure to do extra rinses to get it out, and Jack didn’t have any reaction to the diapers. Hopefully we won’t have to use it again too soon!

Jack has been doing great with letting us know he needs to poop on the potty at 19 months now, but with peeing he still often prefers to play and doesn’t want to go to the bathroom. Hopefully by the time he is 2 we can get him signaling for pees more often and I can stop doing laundry every few days!

Update at 18 months

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I can’t believe how fast time is passing and that Jack is already 18 months old! I remember when he was a tiny baby we’d always be the youngest ones at meetups and things, and now he is definitely a toddler! I try as much as possible to be present and enjoy each day because they really fly by, and even if we have another child it’ll never be the same as having all my time to enjoy just Jack. Some things that have been going on lately:

  • Talking: Jack is saying about 10 words or so now. It’s on the low end of normal, but hopefully he’s just a later talker like his dad was. I make sure to narrate what we are doing all day and wait for him to respond to questions so he has the opportunity to practice talking. While he says 10 words he says the same 3 most often- ball, mama, and car. So it really doesn’t feel like he’s that grown up yet, I think once he is using his words all the time it will really feel like he’s not a baby any more.
  • Eating: Jack has gradually been eating more solids. He likes most things that are breaded such as organic chicken nuggets or fish nuggets. He is also eating more fruits such as peaches. Our meals are still pretty random things at this point though, like raisins and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • Babywearing: I still wear Jack for usually either a nap or to get him to sleep for bedtime. I also use the Tula a lot for when we are walking to of from a store or part of the time we are walking our dog.
  • Breastfeeding: Jack still nurses a lot! If I’m gone for 4-5 hours for work I start feeling engorged. He also nurses every few hours at night. Once his teeth are in I’ll try to cut that down, but he keeps having teething pain at least a few weeks a month so it doesn’t seem worth it to deal with the crying and lack of sleep of night weaning just to go back on it a week later when he has horrible teething pain all night.
  • Clothes: we have still been able to stick with 100% organic clothes! I’ve been happy to find toddler clothes at H&M, Frugi, Burt’s Bees, and some random stuff on amazon.
  • Cloth diapers: Jack is wearing mostly Bumgenius 4.0 pockets now because they are easy to change while he’s standing or walking. He goes to the potty when he wakes up in the morning and usually after nap and we get almost all poops in the potty.
  • Movement: Jack is almost running now which is cute. He is also climbing nonstop! He can push a chair to the kitchen counter and climb up on it which is scary. We are looking for a used learning tower for him to make standing at the kitchen sink a little safer.
  • Playing: Jack still prefers playing with containers or laundry over mot of the toys he has! Some favorite toys that actually get used often are books, his wooden cart, and his pounding toy which he also likes to remove the pegs from and put them places.

Overall he can entertain himself for longer and longer now- sometimes 10-20 minutes, so it’s getting so much easier for me! I can now cook in the kitchen sometimes while he plays in the sink or with some containers, or I can clean while he “swiffers.” He also sits in his high chair long enough for me to eat an entire meal often, although sometimes I have to give him a little container with a lid for him to put raisins into to keep him busy at the end.

I love how he learns new things almost every day, like how to make a new animal noise. He is starting to get upset when we tell him he can’t do things, but luckily after reading a ton about positive parenting (I love the book Peaceful Parenting) I feel pretty well equipped to deal with it and help him learn to calm himself down so far. I’m sure it will get harder (but in some ways easier) as he gets older though!

Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys ūüėČ We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia, ¬†putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week. ¬†I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

Boiling cloth diapers to get rid of ammonia

Help! Ammonia in my diapers!

Help! Ammonia in my diapers!

We’ve been having ammonia issues for months now, and I’ve tried Rockin Green detergent, their ammonia special detergent, and Eco Sprout detergent (based on recommendations of natural detergents from friends).

I used to just wash the diapers on one cycle, and I started doing two cycles (one hot, one cold/warm) and a soak beforehand.

But our diapers still smelled SUPER bad after they got pee in them, and the overnight diaper would be scary!

Thank goodness Jack never got ammonia burn, but the idea of that scared me which is why I kept trying different things.

I finally tried boiling diapers over the stove for 15 minutes, and it finally worked!

I boiled them for 15 minutes and then washed them as usual, and they didn’t smell like anything after they got peed on. Thank goodness!

The process was time consuming because I don’t have a huge pot so I couldn’t do too many at one time, but it’s worth it to take care of the problem, and probably only needs to be done once every few months I hope.

 

I’ll continue my usual routine with boiling occasionally (we live in an apartment with paid laundry which is why I don’t do extra rinses and stuff)

  1. Wash on hot with Rockin Green ammonia detergent (open the lid to let the diapers soak for 30-60 minutes when the water is full)
  2. Wash on warm with Eco Sprout detergent with other clothes and things added in, so we can still get out other laundry done without the process taking a whole day
  3. Dry prefolds in the dryer, and hang the covers/pockets with PUL to dry

Facebook groups for crunchy moms

Since I’ve had Jack, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on facebook while he’s breastfeeding. I don’t know a ton of crunchy moms in real life, so facebook groups have been so helpful in making me feel like part of a community and having people to ask for advice. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Natural¬†Toys¬†and¬†Children’s¬†Items¬†b/s/t

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/402340353149076/
  • This is ony of my favorites and I’ve already mentioned it here
  • B/S/T stands for buy, sell, trade
  • It’s a nice place to find cheaper used wooden toys etc, but also to ask questions about anything crunchy

2. The babywearing Swap

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebabywearingswap/
  • This super addictive group is just for buying and selling used baby carriers and wraps
  • I definitely look at it while not even planning to buy anything just because the wraps are so pretty!

3.  Babywearing 102

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/
  • This is the group where you can post questions about anything babywearing related, or pictures of you wrapping and they will give you tips

4. 102 Off-Topic

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/102OT/
  • This is a group to talk about anything other than babywearing, and the moms tend to be super crunchy, use positive parenting, and know about breastfeeding etc

5. The Wait It Out Method (A toolkit approach to sleep training)

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWaitItOutTribe/
  • This group is for parents not using cry it out for sleeping, and is very helpful when you are at your wit’s end with a baby waking up all the time and want some moral support when everyone in real life seems to be sleep training

6.¬†High¬†Needs¬†/¬†AP¬†/¬†Spirit¬†Families¬†–¬†Babies¬†and¬†Children+¬†…WORLDWIDE.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/354013614686652/
  • This group is not my favorite, but it can be helpful to ask questions about your high needs baby or see other peoples’ stories to get some perspective

7. Organic Kids Clothes Swap Sell Buy

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/468453759909391/
  • This group probably has less clothes than the group #1 I listed, but is another one to check out if you want used organic clothes

8. Elimination Communication

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/diaperfree/
  • This is useful to ask questions about specifics of EC (diaper free babies) or problem solve if you’re having a potty strike or anything

I also joined some specific groups for certain things like BumGenius b/s/t to buy used diapers of that brand, or Tula love to ask questions about what size Tula carrier to get. It’s a good idea to search for your favorite clothing brand and they might have a b/s/t group, or your favorite small stores may have a group or page you can “like” to see coupon codes occasionally. Hope this helps you waste a lot of time/connect with other crunchy parents!

On vacation with a (cloth diapered) baby

IMG_20131217_125142We are in Palm Springs, CA for a few days, and it’s our first vacation with Jack! We drove here which was convenient, but the drive was stressful since Jack doesn’t like the car. It was good because I was able to bring a bunch of pocket diapers, and we have a washer/dryer in our suite so we have been using cloth diapers during the trip. I just used one disposable for the car ride and plan to use another on the way back just to avoid any unnecessary discomfort in the car.¬†

We went on a hike today which worked well since Jack loves walking around in the carrier. However, he’s teething and doing lots of other normal vacation activities have been harder (like eating out). It’s hard to think of things to do in the evenings with a baby since you can’t go to ¬†a show or movie or nice restaurant. He did enjoy the hotel pool which was fun, and crawling around the room a lot.

I think tomorrow we’ll hike again and go out to a restaurant to see how that goes. Then we’ll try to drive home around 8pm after Jack is asleep so that hopefully he sleeps through the entire trip. 2.5 hours is a long time to try to keep an awake baby happy in the car! Especially if his attention span is less than 5 minutes on average.¬†

 

 

Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper review

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Before a month or so ago, I didn’t understand why people liked pocket diapers. You have to wash the whole thing (the cover and insert) each time, instead of with covers and prefolds which we mostly use where you only sometimes have to wash the cover if it gets dirty. With wool, you really only have to wash it rarely when it gets poop on it.

However, Jack is really sensitive to being wet (hopefully means he’ll be out of diapers sooner than later!) so using cotton prefolds meant changing his diaper A LOT, and him getting upset in the car for example if his diaper got wet. When he was a few months old we started using eco-friendly disposables (the Bambo Nature brand which is even compostable) when we were driving more than a few minutes or other people were watching him who didn’t want to check if a diaper was wet every 5 minutes.

Once I thought about it, I realized it makes more sense for the environment and Jack’s chemical exposure to use pocket diapers instead of disposables. Pocket diapers (or stay-dry all-in-ones like bumgenius Freetimes) are really similar to disposables in that they have a stay-dry layer (it’s polyester based in the 4.0s) so Jack doesn’t really feel wet. I’ve tested it, and it works really well! You can leave them on for longer like a disposable and they almost never feel wet. Obviously it’s not as nice as organic cotton and wool, but better than disposables. I also tried the Bummies stay-dry liners, and they were way smaller than a trifolded prefold, so they didn’t keep everything feeling dry.¬†

What I like about the Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diapers:

  • They are one-size, so I could use them on a newborn in the future
  • They fit pretty trim-ly and stay on well
  • They have cute colors and some adorable patterns¬†
  • They are made in the USA
  • You can adjust the absorbency (we use organic prefolds, and put 2 in if we use them overnight)
  • They have good resale value if you change your mind about them
  • They really stay dry!
  • I haven’t had a big issue with leaks¬†
  • You can wash them in a machine unlike wool which is usually by hand
  • The tab area is stretchy so that it gets a really good fit around the waist

Negatives about them:

  • They are polyester inside and the outside part has PUL which is not as nice as natural fibers
  • Because of the PUL they are less breathable than wool, so we use wool part-time too in order to make sure we avoid diaper rashes
  • They can be expensive, and even if you buy used (try diaperswappers.com) they are not that discounted
  • The velcro ones get pilly, and they dug into Jack’s thigh and made him all red. The snaps are great though

Overall, they have been a great middle-ground between the most natural option (organic wool with organic cotton prefolds) and disposables, and I am kind of addicted to the adorable patterns!

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Addicted to cloth diapers!

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Jack in an Imse Vimse diaper cover

 

Now that Jack is crawling, I’ve been getting some non-wool diaper covers for him because the covers are getting dirty from our floors, and the wool is more of a hassle to clean. I still love our wool for nighttime and sometimes in the day, but I’ve also been trying some new things.

Since we do EC and change his diaper whenever we see it’s wet (VERY OFTEN) I thought of getting an organic cotton fitted diaper to use as a cover, even thought it wasn’t waterproof. I ended up buying this fitted diaper which I am liking so far. I like that no snaps are exposed so if the prefold we put in there migrates no snaps dig into his skin. I wish we had the money to just buy a ton of fitted diapers, but they are expensive! Our prefolds were about $1 each (used) but the fitteds are $10-20!

I also ordered a large Imse Vimse diaper cover which is organic cotton outside and PUL inside to be waterproof. I was sad that it wasn’t a lot bigger than the medium size though, and the velcro already started digging into Jack’s leg and leaving a red spot. If I ever have the chance I’ll try to switch it out to snaps, because otherwise I like the cover.

I also ordered a Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper, which is sadly not organic at all. I wanted to try a pocket diaper to use when my family watches Jack sometimes because they don’t check his diaper as much as I do and I don’t like him to feel uncomfortable and wet. I watched a youtube video comparing how wet a bunch of diapers fet, and Bumgenius won, so I figured it was better than a disposable at least and decided to try it. I do have organic bamboo fleece I bought which I use to line the prefolds at night and sometimes during the day, but I’m thinking the not-organic fleece material of the Bumgenius will wick moisture away better.

I’ll let you know how they do!

Loveybums diaper cover review

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Jack weighing 20 pounds in a size Medium cover

Loveybums are one of our favorite wool diaper sources! I found them initially when I was pregnant and registered for some of their newborn diaper covers on amazon, and then realized that there was a bigger selection of colors and diapers on their web page. Luckily I was able to register for some diapers there through the amazon registry where you can link to items on outside web pages. They were one of the only places I found colorful organic wool diaper covers. Etsy and disana and other brands have organic options too, but mostly in pull-up styles.

In the picture above, Jack is wearing the green organic wool cover in a Medium with velcro, and he is wearing a large with snaps below.

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Jack weighing 20 pounds in a size Large cover

 

I like that you can choose between snaps or velcro for any color/size. I’ve found that the sizing is really accurate, and the snaps especially can last a lot longer than even the maximum size limit. However, the velcro starts to scratch Jack’s stomach when he gets to the end of the size range.

We have the cornflower blue, the green, and the yellow colors and they are all adorable! I don’t think I would ever get a white one because they would look dirty so easily. They seem very comfortable and breathable, and Jack never gets any diaper rashes. We use these covers during the day now, and the disana pull-ups at night because they leak the least. We only rarely have problems with the loveybums leaking, and that is just when Jack’s penis ends up pointing to the side by accident- the wool itself never leaks.

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The diapers are cut wide between the legs for fewer leaks, but are bulky

Each diaper comes with some sample lanolin, so I haven’t had to buy any lanolin yet. They have instructions as well, and it’s really easy to lanolize them. I have even used them without lanolizing for a few days and didn’t have any problems with leaks. I use wool wash to spot clean them when poop gets on them, and they have never had a problem smelling bad. They do take a while to dry if they are completely soaked, so it’s good to have a few as backups.

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The tag sticks out on the back, but at least it doesn’t bother the baby’s skin

Jack has super sensitive skin but the wool has never bothered him. I love the fact that it is organic so it wouldn’t have any pesticides on it. We use the covers with a trifolded prefold, and have also used snappis in the past. Both methods work well, but we are just too lazy for the snappis :) The covers are made of two layers of wool, so they are really absorbent but not very trim. We can wear them under pants, but Jack does look like he’s got a lot of extra padding. There is also no drooping because there are 3 snaps on either side (except in newborn sizes). Overall, we love these covers and have just ordered some more in the large size now that Jack is getting bigger!

Disana diaper cover

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I ordered a Disana cover in orange size 2-3T a few weeks ago for Jack who is 8 months and 19 pounds. So far it’s my favorite cover for evenings/nights! Since we do elimination communication I like to have Jack in prefolds without a snappi or anything so we can easily let him go to the potty. I’m sure the Disana would work well with snappis or fitted diapers, but I was thrilled that the trifolded prefold stayed put just fine during the night.

What I like about the Disana cover so far:

  • It was fairly inexpensive compared to other organic wool options
  • It’s really easy to put on and to pull the wet prefold out because it’s very stretchy
  • It got poop on it and it was easier to lean than the interlock covers I have
  • It’s colorful so it seems like you won’t be able to see stains
  • It is so soft and snugly and seems completely comfortable (no velcro digging into his tummy)
  • No leaks at all so far because it comes up over their tummy and down the legs
  • It looks like little shorts when I have him in the carrier and walk outside, so I don’t feel like he looks like he’s wearing a diaper

What I don’t like:

  • It took a LONG time to dry compared to my other covers (about 2 days when soaked!)

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