Miss Gioia

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Diapers

The bread and butter of our cloth diapering system is a hemp fleece pre-fold, which we use with various waterproof covers. I originally purchased a bunch of Polar Babies pre-folds. They worked really well. It is a good, basic system. The hemp fleece is super soft (at least for a while) and is naturally anti-bacterial.

However, we have a German washing machine which has a special wash cycle for diapers (super sanitary). We also live in a downtown apartment with no room for clotheslines. The extra hot water combined with the stress from the dryer means that the fleece pre-folds don't last forever. I bought 36 originally, and we are just now coming to the end of the last ones. They lasted a year, which I guess is not too bad. It is time for some more diapers. I think it will be a while before Gioia figures out how to use her new little Japanese potty, so our stock needs to be replenished. Instead of ordering new pre-made ones, I decided to try to sew them myself. Pretty simple, actually. The hardest part was sourcing the fabric.

I ordered 10 meters of fleece, which yielded 19 Super Deluxe size diapers (23" x 15" unwashed). It also generated a ton of leftover scraps, which I am super excited to use for making dry wipes (more baby gifts - so many friends with babies!).

The Polar Babies Super Deluxe diapers are US$10 each (if you buy at least 12). If I estimate US$50 in shipping costs, then the per diaper cost would be US$12.63. My DIY per diaper price was US$6.47 (with shipping), a little over half of the 'store bought' price. Of course, that cost figure does not include sewing machine and serger depreciation costs,* but only a true geek would talk about capital costs on her blog. Oh. Wait...

Total estimated savings for 19 diapers: US$117. Not bad. I will try to post a tutorial later this week.

*Besides, those are sunk costs. A marginal costs analysis is more appropriate, right?

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Saturday, March 15, 2008


As soon as we got home from traveling, we switched to cloth diapers in earnest. We now have refined our process to one that is pretty effective. We fill a dry pail beside her changing table with pee pee diapers, and wash them once every two days. Poops get dumped straight into the toilet, and then the diaper gets thrown into the same pail. Big messy poops have a hazmat hose down process, which thankfully I have not yet had to perform (just Chris so far). Our washing machine has an "Xxtra Sanitary" setting especially for diapers. Fabulous.

We are primarily using a pre-fold and cover system, with a few "all in ones" for convenience. The pocket Fuzzi Bunzs are great; it is exactly like using a disposable (except for the washing part). We started out using Snappis to hold the diaper together, but those things were hard to use. Some did not grip the cloth well, and we seemed to always be struggling to secure the strap while the baby was whining and losing patience. Chris discovered a neat trick, though. The little straps that are used to bundle electric cords together work perfectly in holding the diaper closed. You can see one in use in the picture above. These things are sold in any computer or hardware store. We saw a packet of 10 today at B&Q for like 3 bucks. Cheaper and more effective than Snappis, for sure.

Our biggest problem in the beginning was leaks, especially at night. None of the covers that I made were able to last through 12-13 hours of nighttime pee pee. We did not have any mattress leakage because her two sleep sacks are both made of waterproof fleece. But she was waking up with a completely soaked onesie, which was not good. On one hand, the cloth diapers were comfortable enough that she did not wake up if the diaper was soiled (unlike the disposables, with which she woke at least once a night). On the other hand, morning cleanup was pretty gross. I finally bought some of the Imse Vimse wool diaper covers pictured above. These covers are incredible. Not a single drop has leaked so far. Each cover needs only to be air-dried after use (pee is sterile) and then washed and lanolized once or twice a month.

The wool soakers I knit work well for daytime (see picture below). I never got around to making the crochet edgings for the leg openings (I am a crochet failure), but they still work fine. The Very Baby covers are not so good, however. In one or two covers, the elastic edging failed after several washes. Also the velcro tabs are too small and too weak. Lesson learned: use large sections of Aplix or snaps. Now after a month, the sides will not stay shut without a onesie on top to hold it all together. If I have energy, I may try to make some more in the next size up, but I'll use snaps and a different seaming method this time.

Good diaper system = dry and happy baby. Now we can take all that money we are saving by not buying disposables and invest in a couple bottles of wine. Oops, I meant... college fund. Yeah.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Many Knickers?

Cloth diapers need some type of waterproof cover. One of the options preferred by many people is wool, which is a naturally breatheable barrier fabric. Apparently people have been using wool for diaper covers for a long, long time. So, I have been working on knitting a few wool soakers for Miss G lately.

These are the first three knickers, made of Cherry Tree Hill yarn using Little Turtle Knits patterns, specifically the Ribby Wrap and the Hybrid Rib Soaker patterns.

I do like these patterns EXCEPT for the pesky crochet needed to finish the leg openings. If you live in Beijing, know how to crochet and would be willing to barter for some lessons, then I am sure we could work out some sort of a deal. Perhaps your own Waldorf doll?

Also, does anyone know just how many wool soakers I should have on hand? I am thinking six pairs, which will suppliment the other 12 diaper covers (non-wool). Any thoughts?


Friday, January 12, 2007

More Hippie Madness

If you truly get caught up in cloth diapering and become a full fledged hippie (as Chris calls me now), one option is to make reusable baby wipes. These are hemp terry on one side and cozy flannel on the other.

You can whip out a whole stack of these in no time, especially if you have a serger. I might make some as a gift for an upcoming baby shower and include a recipe for vegan baby wipes solution.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

Cloth Diaper Covers

We have decided to try cloth diapers when Miss G arrives. When I say "we", however, I really mean the imperial "We" because Chris is still very wary of the whole idea. It does seem to make sense, though, for the following reasons.

1) It will be much more comfortable for her. Which would you rather have strapped to your butt all day long - plastic and gross chemicals or super soft, naturally anti-bacterial hemp fleece?

2) The debate on whether disposable or cloth is better for the environment still rages. Even though we will be using more water, we will not be embalming her poop for thousands of years in a landfill somewhere. Also, these puppies will be laundered at home (see #3 below), so we will not be incurring all of the additional environmental costs of a diaper service (e.g., carting the diaper to and from our home each week).

3) Since we already have a full-time ayi (maid) and will be hiring another one when Miss G comes home, odds are that we will not be doing much diaper washing ourselves anyway.

Of course some would argue that cloth diapers are cheaper than disposables, which is another plus. However, we will likely have to replace our crappy Italian washing machine in the rental house with a newer one, so it may not work out to be much of a savings. Then again, if the current machine shocks the ayi one more time, we may need to replace it anyway.

One of the neatest parts of the whole cloth diapering path is the opportunity to make cute covers and accessories. Now, if you start researching cloth diapers, you will learn two main things. First, these diapers are not your mama's diapers. Technology has changed, and things like pointy safety pins are a thing of the past. Second, there are loads of options to choose from, and it seems everyone has an opinion on what works best.

It is hard to say before you actually have a kiddo what will work for your family, but we have decided to try a system which involves a folded hemp fleece diaper in combination with a diaper cover. Diaper covers can be knit from wool or made from a water-proof fabric, such as PUL or waterproof fleece. Here is a picture of some diaper covers I made over the holiday from the Very Baby Snug Wrap pattern. It only took a day and an evening to make about 10 covers. They were super easy once I got the hang of the fold-over elastic and very cute.