Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Product Comparison: AMP duo pocket diaper and Fuzzibunz perfect-size pocket diapers

If you've been to our stores, you know we sell a lot of diapers. Many new parents are overwhelmed when they walk through our doors, they come in expecting to see flats, pins, and pull-up pants (believe it or not, they do), most are shocked at the selection (we sell more in our stores than what you see online -- one more reason to come visit us IRL!).

We currently stock two brands of sized pocket diapers, AMP duo pockets and Fuzzibunz perfect-sized pocket diapers. So here is a breakdown of each diapers' pros and cons.

AMP duo pocket diapers have been manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba for several years by Annie Marie Padorie. Fuzzibunz diapers have been around for ten years (an eon in the cloth diaper industry!), they were originally manufactured in the USA, but they have recently moved manufacturing to China.
With respect to the moniker "duo pockets" the idea is that they can be used as a pocket diaper or a cover. To be honest, any pocket diaper can be used as a cover if you feel like it, but I don't really see why you would. If you want a cover, buy a cover, and pay a cover price, not a pocket diaper price. There, so we got that out of the way!

As far as sized pocket diapers go, I have to say, the AMP duo pocket offers a nice fit, especially on newborns (small AMP diapers fit from 7-18 lbs). Fuzzibunz perfect-size diapers in size small are supposed to fit from 8-18 lbs, but in our experience, they run a little large. The large AMP duo pockets fit from 15-35 lbs. On a note related to fit, the AMP diapers have elastic gathering in the front of the diaper, which prevents gaping at the belly. A very nice touch that allows for a great fit on babies with a skinny belly. Large diapers fit from 15-35 lbs, so the AMP duo pocket diaper system requires the purchase of only 2 sizes. Fuzzibunz have three sizes, as mentioned previously, size S fits from 8-18 lbs, size M fits from 15-30 lbs, and size L fits from 25-40+ lbs. Most babies potty train out of size M (roughly 2.5 years old), so realistically, most parents only purchase two sizes of Fuzzibunz perfect-fit diapers.
The pocket opening in the AMP diaper's pocket opening is envelope-style (covered with a flap), so the insert will not poke out. Fuzzibunz pockets are not covered, so you may have to tuck the insert down sometimes. Another thing different about the AMP duo pocket opening is its placement at the front of the diaper, no need to worry about poop getting in the pocket (the pocket opening is located at the back of the Fuzzibunz diaper, although you should be able to just shake the insert into your diaper pail at a diaper change, no touching required!).

You have the option of purchasing AMP pocket diapers empty ($18.00 each), Fuzzibunz perfect size pocket diapers are sold together with a 4-layer microterry insert ($23.95), which is thicker than the standard microterry insert (usually 3 layers). AMP makes a nice bamboo insert ($6.00 when purchased together with the diaper, $8.00 when purchased alone) that can be used as a pocket stuffer, or trifolded and laid in the diaper a la cover/prefolds style. Their bamboo inserts are super-duper trim, and super-duper thirsty (n fact, they're a great addition to any night-time diaper!!

Since Fuzzibunz have been around for over 10 years now, it's a well-known brand, which can affect (boost!) resale value. If you skim the local used ads (Kjiji, UsedOttawa, Craigslist), it's not uncommon to find people looking for used Fuzzibunz diapers. Keep them in good shape, and you can expect to sell them for at least half of their retail value!

So there you have it. Any other questions? Let me know! If you'd like to try them both out, purchase one of each and use coupon code SIZEDPOCKETS to obtain free S&H. We're pretty confident that you'll like one of them, so we'll include a $5.00 gift certificate in your order, to be applied to any future purchase at The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe. Shopping in-person? We'll sweeten the deal, buy one of each diaper and receive (2) $5.00 gift certificates to be applied to any future purchase at The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe. Offer valid through August 6th, 2009.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Infant pottying: the what, the why, and the how

One of the many benefits of cloth diapers is the likelihood of earlier potty training. Since most cloth diapers (with the exception of diapers lined with wicking fabric) keep wetness against your baby’s skin, your baby will be more aware of what’s happening when she eliminates. Of course, this doesn’t mean your baby will self potty train, however, you can take advantage of her likelihood to potty train faster by pottying her at a younger age.

In many cultures, parents don’t rely on diapers – in fact, if you ask your own parents or grandparents about potty training, you’ll find that they likely started potty training you at a younger age than most parents today. When you potty an infant, you are not training her to hold her pee and poo, you are simply responding to your baby’s elimination needs; you are effectively teaching her how to eliminate. Infant pottying is not an ‘all or nothing’ deal, you can adapt it to your own situation; part-time pottying is completely OK! Even if you only potty your baby once/day, you’re getting him/her used to the idea that they can void outside of a diaper, so when you do potty train, it’s not a new concept. If you leave a child in diapers all the time, and change the diaper when it’s soiled, you are training them to void in the diaper.

The easiest way to start pottying your baby is at diaper changes, when you already have your baby’s diaper off. You tend to change a diaper after a nap/nurse, which is when babies usually need to pee (what’s the first thing you do in the morning? Have you ever noticed your baby’s tendency to pee at a diaper change?). Pottying your baby at a diaper change creates no more work for you.

You may find it easiest to potty your baby over a sink, it’s easier on your back, and you can cradle your baby against your chest; holding her under the thighs will bring her knees above her hips, which will help move things along. Another benefit of pottying your baby over the sink is the visual cue she will receive from watching herself in the mirror – she’ll see what’s happening.

When you are pottying your baby, you can cue her with a sound (‘sssss’) or a word (‘pee pee’). You can also teach them the hand sign for peeing (make a fist, with your thumb between the second and third fingers). Eventually, your baby will associate the cue with eliminating. Around seven months of age, we noticed our baby’s seemed to be holding their bladders and voiding on command.

Once you are comfortable pottying your baby, you can observing her habits -- your baby has a pattern, you can figure it out simply by leaving her diaperless on a waterproof mat and making note of when she pees (a newborn might pee every 20 minutes, for example; an older baby will go longer between pees). Of course, I’m not suggesting you potty your baby every 20 minutes throughout the day, but it helps to have a sense of her needs.

Aside from timing, if you pay attention to your baby, you will notice when things are happening. For example, when a young baby is peeing, she may hold her breath and stop moving. Now that Grace is on solids (solid poop!), I can tell when she needs to poop – grunting, farting, etc. If she starts, I take her diaper off and finish over the toilet.

- consistency helps (same person)
- eliminate distractions (ie, a sibling who is drawing baby’s attention from the task at hand).
- give baby something to distract him/her (ie, a special toy on the potty)
- it’s not unusual for a baby to give up pottying when working on another milestone (ie, walking); continue to offer the potty, but don’t push it.

If you’re having an ‘off’ day, just use diapers. Same for if you’re sleep-deprived, or if you’re dealing with a sick/cranky baby… don’t make it a chore, it’s OK to take a break.

When you’re ready to actually toilet train (ie, encourage child to potty self, move entirely out of diapers), the onus is on you. Don’t ask, just take baby to the potty. Straight to underwear is more motivating for you to stay on top of it (training pants for out and about). Lot’s of praise and reward for self-pottying, then gradually cut it out (Smarties did it for our kids -- if they knew we had Smarties in the house, they'd be on the toilet every 20 minutes, squeeing out a drip!).

If you consistently provide your baby with an opportunity to potty at an early age, you will get her out of diapers sooner. Yes, you will hit roadblocks, but the earlier you start, the easier it will be. I honestly started pottying our second child at birth on a lark -- I read about infant pottying, and I thought it was crazy. It worked so well, we've done it with all of our children since, and I encourage all new parents to try it. Good luck!

- http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/
- “Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene” (Ingrid Bauer)
- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eliminationcommunication/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It works... it really works!

OK, so I'm getting a little bored of blogging about cloth diapers. Can you even believe it? So I'm going to blog about something I started using recently with Grace, completely unrelated to cloth diapers, or even my store (shock! horror!).

So here it is -- a tip about using something not for its intended purpose, but finding out it works well.

These silicone sno cone cups are absolutely *brilliant* for teaching a baby how to drink from a cup! I don't have to tilt it far to get the liquid into her mouth, and I can pinch it together so that when she drinks from it, it's a small lip. I can also easily see where the liquid is, so that I don't end up tilting it too far and dumping juice all over her. We bought them at Target (tar-jay!) on a trip to the US (yes, we do use them as sno cone cups as well!). I would bet that if you've got a younger baby who won't drink out of a bottle or a sippy, this would do the trick (Grace was just under a year old when I started letting her drink out of these -- obviously I hold it for her!).

So there it is folks. So do you have any tips to offer up? Give us a good tip, and we'll send you a $5.00 gift certificate in return, just because we like good tips (I'm sorry, 'never eat yellow snow' doesn't count!). One gift certificate/person/purchase who posts a tip. Come on, wow me with your ideas!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Switching from a standard top-loader to a front-loading HE machine -- oy vey!

It's been two weeks, and I have been schooled in the art of washing cloth diapers in a high efficienty (HE) machine. First time I washed a load of diapers in our sparkly new HE machine, I was struck by a few things:
  1. It is totally gross to empty diapers out of a hard pail into a front-loading machine. Totally. Gross. We've used a hard pail around these parts for 8 years now, and although this is our last baby, and she will be out of diapers shortly, I am switching to Mother of Eden's hanging laundry pail. In fact, I think a change from all of our laundry baskets to fabric laundry bags is in order -- as *not* thrilled as I am about getting dirty diapers into the front-loader, I am even *less* thrilled about getting my husband's dirty underwear in there.
  2. The HE machine uses way, way, way, way (to the nth degree, really) less water. We encountered stink issues pretty much immediately. So how can you combat stink? I'm now using the advice I've doled out to HE users for years -- add a sopping wet bath towel to the load to make it heavier so you can trick your washing machine into using more water (this is what it's come to? Me vs. the washing machine? It's like Terminator over here, people!). I'm also doing an extra rise after I wash the diapers. Do I feel bad about using more water? Heck no! We adhere to "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down" in this household, the point being, we cut our water use other ways. I only use run the dishwasher when it's full, I take short showers, I bathe 3 of the 4 kids together, don't judge me!
  3. I really must be vigilant about taking the poop off Grace's diapers. We typically don't have to deal with this issue b/c before the summer, most of her poops went right into the toilet, but it's summer, she's eating more fruit, and her bum has a mind of it's own. Previously, I just took the bulk of the poop out of the diaper, my former machine (bless her heart) managed to get the rest of the poop of the diapers. *sniff* I miss my old washing machine! We had a mini-shower previously, DH took it off b/c he was worried about the kids having a water fight, specifically, the boy, I wouldn't put it past him either. Either DH reinstals the mini-shower, or he takes over poop duty. I strongly suspect he'll go with plan A.

I haven't changed the detergent I use, I'm still using Natureclean, though perhaps I need to actually measure it instead of eyeballing it.

I hope I love my new washing machine soon. I was so excited to get it, and stink issues really are not fun!

Does anyone out there care to share anymore tips? Anyone?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cloth diapering at night

Yes. You can do it. In fact, you can likely make your current daytime diapers work overnight simply by adding doublers, or by using a different cover. There are no hard and fast rules, simply put, all babies are different; some pee a lot at night, some hardly pee at all. You basically increase the absorbency of the diaper until your baby doesn't leak anymore.

Night-time diapering isn't generally an issue for parents of newborns since most babies will poop 24 hours a day for the first 6-8 weeks. You can't let your baby sit in poop, so you have to change your baby through the night. When your baby stops pooping at night (praise be!), she will likely still be eating through the night, so you have to make the diaper more absorbent -- she may wear it for 10-12 hours. Here are some options:

  • add a doubler. Hemp or bamboo doublers are a good choice because they are more absorbent than other fibers. If your baby still leaks, try adding two doublers.

  • use a bamboo or hemp diaper. Same idea as using hemp or bamboo doublers with your regular daytime diaper, but more absorbent overall.

  • use a wool cover instead of a PUL cover. Wool will hold up to 30% of its weight in liquid without feeling wet (seriously, I'm not making it up!). Back in the day, before we had access to the technical fabrics used today, parents relied on wool soakers to contain wet diapers. As an added bonus, wool is very breathable -- a great benefit when your baby is wearing a diaper for a 10-12 hour stretch. If you're going to use wool diaper covers, it's a good idea to have 2 in rotation --when you wash your wool cover, it will take 1-2 days to dry. Wool covers do have to be washed by hand, but it's not as scary as it sounds: put the wool cover in a sink with enough warm water to cover it. Add some Eucalan wool wash, and gently squish the wool cover a few times in the water. Drain the water (don't rinse the cover, you want the lanolin present in the Eucalan to stay in your cover), and gently squeeze out as much water as you can (you can roll the wool cover in a dry towel and sit on it to help draw out the moisture, or you can spin it in your washer.

  • use a pocket diaper overnight. Pocket diapers are essentially two leak-proof materials sandwiched together, so they are a little more forgiving than a traditional diaper/cover combination. You will more than likely need to double-up on inserts -- for a moderate wetter, 2 microfiber inserts may do the trick, for a heavy wetter, use a hemp or bamboo insert along with the regular microfiber insert. Be sure to place the microfiber insert on top of the hemp insert, since it's a fabric that absorbs slowly. Some people feel their children sleep better when wearing a diaper that wicks moisture away (like a pocket diaper), so if you're worried about your baby's comfort at night, pocket diapers may be a good option for you.

  • use fleece pants as pyjama bottoms. This is a great extra layer of defense. Similar to a fleece diaper cover, the fleece pants will keep moisture in. The pants won't feel wet (and cold!), and your baby's bedsheets won't get wet (and cold!).

The least expensive way to combat night-time diapering is by adding doublers. If baby still leaks, you could add a doubler and use a wool cover, or you could try a bamboo fitted diaper with your regular PUL cover (or a bamboo fitted diaper with a hemp doubler and a wool cover, if you have a super-duper-heavy-wetter!). The combinations are endless!

If you're dealing with a toddler, limiting fluids in advance of bedtime can help reduce the wetting at night, or pottying your toddler before bedtime can also help.

Diapering at night can be just as easy as diapering through the day once you hit that sweet spot, I promise. Step away from the disposables and give it a shot!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do you sell a package?

We get asked this question on a daily basis, and while it might be an easy way to make a couple hundred of bucks, we've decided against stocking any cloth diaper packages for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, one of the great things about our shop is the selection -- what fun is a boring old box of one type of diaper? Where's the fun in that? OK, that's one of the reasons, but not *the* reason.

The main reason we don't stock a package is that we want you to be happy with your purchase. The second we sell a 'package', it's an all-or-nothing deal. You don't like what you bought? Too bad, it's a package, they're all yours (imagine buying a bag of Pampers, and trying to return a box, minus the one that caused a blowout?). We would rather you're happy with your purchase. Buy 2 dozen prefolds, if you're not sure, wash and use 6 of them. If you hate them (you won't), you can return what wasn't washed.

In terms of the selection, since we offer so many styles and brands, it would be too hard to put together any kind of package. Perhaps you want to use mostly prefolds, but you want a few one-size pockets to add to the mix. Or maybe you plan on using sized pocket diapers as the bulk of your stash, but for overnight, you want to use natural fibres with a wool cover for breathability. There is no way we could start putting together packages that will make everyone happy. You've got to figure out what works for you, and you have to build a stash around your needs. And you know that picking the colors is half the fun, you just won't admit it!

There's also the issue of some cloth diaper packages containing items you just don't need. If you're exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you don't *need* paper liners, but you may be paying for them in that nifty package you've been eyeing... save that money for something you can actually use, like a wetbag, or a Starbucks (come on, you know you deserve it!).

Finally, some sage words of advice, if you're dying to buy a package, don't (don't!) buy something that includes everything you need from potty training to birth. The large expense of that type of purchase aside, you run the risk of falling out of love with what may initially work for you. It's not at all uncommon to switch diaper styles -- perhaps your baby has developed rolly-polly thighs that those Kissaluvs just won't accommodate, or you thought you were a prefold gal, but pockets are more your gig. Whatever the reason, assuming you'll love something forever is a risk (Elizabeth Taylor will back me up here!). So approach any cloth diaper purchase with caution, and have fun finding out what works for you.

You're welcome!