Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Which type of cloth diapering mom are you?

Just looking at the conversations on our Facebook Page tells us one thing: there are so many kinds of parents who choose modern cloth diapers for their babies. 

And why not? Once parents learn how easy cloth diapering can be with a little guidance, there’s really no reason not to save $2,000 or more per child!

Just for fun, here’s a profile of some of the cloth diapering mom personality types I’ve observed in my years as a cloth diapering mom and industry employee. Which one do you see yourself as? Or maybe you’re a mix of a few?

The Curious but Skeptical

This mom has heard some buzz about cloth diapers and how much money they can save. Maybe she’s even seen a friend change her cloth diapered baby, and she thinks they are awfully cute. But surely they take up an awful lot of time, she thinks. Can I really do an extra load of laundry every other day? 

She will probably look at the numbers and decide that doing a bit of extra laundry is worth it. She’s excited to be free of the ongoing expense of disposable diapering, but she’s nervous about getting her family on board. With the right support from another cloth diapering mom, Formerly Skeptical Mom keeps up cloth diapering, quickly becoming confident that this was the right decision for her family. Once she has begun cloth diapering, she is on the path to becoming The Activist.

The Planner

The Planner is the mom who wants to know everything about what she’s getting into before she jumps in. She needs to see and touch modern cloth diapers of all styles, and she wants to plan a “stash” of a single daytime system and a single nighttime system. Once she begins cloth diapering, she could become The Working Mom or The Collector.

The Working Mom

This mom is “all business” when it comes to her baby’s diapers. Whether she works outside the home or keeps herself busy as a stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t want to have to put thought into diapers. She buys her stash of leading brand cloth diapers once and makes it work, not worrying about what other systems are out there. This Pragmatic Patty probably has 18 one-size diapers in gender-neutral colors; she washes every other day and dries on low heat in the dryer. She may purchase another diaper or two in a limited edition print, but Working Mom is not in the habit of sentimentalizing diapers, although she loves cloth diapering.

The Collector

This is me. The Collector can’t see a photo of a new release without succumbing to the impulse to try it. She likes to network with other cloth diapering moms to borrow and trade new styles, and she may even delve into the world of handmade, boutique brands on Etsy or HyenaCart. She may “convert her stash” several times a year, or she may just keep adding to the collection, filling drawers till she has a "diaper dresser." She’s a fabric junkie, and prints and limited edition colors are her weakness. The bottom line is that she enjoys cloth diapers and is a jewel of a customer for this industry. Collectors keeps us all in business!

The Activist

The Activist is ready to shout her love of cloth diapering from the rooftops! She has helped a few of her friends begin cloth diapering, and she has convinced all of her single or childless friends of the financial, environmental, and health benefits in preparation for the day that they have babies. She strategically plans which diapers to use when she’ll be around people who are unfamiliar with cloth so that she can show off how easy and fashionable modern cloth is. When her baby appears in photos on her Activist-y Facebook profile, he’s wearing only a t-shirt and coordinating diaper, of course! 
The Proud Health Nut

This mom may have chosen to cloth diaper because of her interest in health and wellness-related lifestyle choices… or cloth diapering may have been her gateway to examining her family’s practices! Either way, she is a great resource to her friends and networks on all things “natural.” Her diaper stash is mostly comprised of cotton, hemp, and maybe wool. She is the go-to for a debriefing on the current state of GMOs and where to buy eggs from farm-raised chickens. The Skin Deep database is her Web browser’s homepage, and she can teach you how to build a clothesline and harness the amazing disinfecting powers of the sun. Other moms may be intimidated by her commitment, but she just wants everyone to experience the transformational wellness she and her family enjoy!

The eLeMeNO-Pee Rep

The eLeMeNO-Pee rep is any of the above profiles! She is a mom who is passionate about cloth diapering and wants to support other families in making this choice with confidence. She embarks on the representative adventure eager to provide income for her own family, meet new people, use her brain, and be able to work with her baby. 

As the saying goes, it takes all kinds! Cloth diapering isn't just for the "natural mom" hippies, it isn't just for stay-at-home moms, and it isn't just for mom martyrs who are happy to drown themselves in laundry. Working moms, moms of multiples, and moms who just plain enjoy cloth diapers all make up our client base, and we are grateful to every single one of them. Truly, every mom and every baby are the "faces" of cloth diapering!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Six Ways Cloth Diapers Can Change Your Life this Spring

For many families all over the world, today is Ash Wednesday: the first day of Lent. Now, we’re a Louisiana-based company, and maybe you didn’t know it, but Lent is A Big Deal here.

But even if you don’t observe Lent, Spring is the time of year for change and renewal cross-culturally. And springtime, believe it or not, always has me a little bit focused on cloth diapers.
Maybe it’s because it’s the time of year I became aware of modern cloth diapers after my first child was born. It’s also the time of year that we found out our second child was a girl, and I got my hands on a “retired” daisy print FuzziBunz, the “gateway” diaper in my collection of fun and interesting prints.

It's no secret that cloth diapers changed my life! Switching to cloth first provided us with money-savings, and then it gave me my career, first as a local eLeMeNO-Pee rep and now as the home office's resident social media gal. Beyond any of that, it's connected my family to families all over Louisiana. I met my best friend because she dropped me a link on Facebook about how easy modern cloth diapers can be!

Here are six things you can do with cloth diapers this spring that will change your life and your practices:

1) Switch to cloth. You knew this would be first on the list! But seriously--if you’ve had your eye on cloth diapers for awhile but haven’t yet taken the plunge, this is the perfect time of year. For many families, it’s tax refund time, and that means the funds are available to purchase 12-15 cloth diapers and the necessary accessories to cloth diaper full-time, which is the easiest way to get started and find success! If you’ve hesitated because you’re not a “laundry person,” and you think cloth will be extra work, Lent is an ideal time to embark on a sacrificial adventure for your baby, your family’s finances, and the earth. I have a hunch that by Easter, “doing cloth” will be so routine that you won’t think of it as a sacrifice any more.
2) Line-dry your cloth diapers. Mount a clothesline, like this retractable line available at any major hardware store, to your fence or back porch posts and enjoy the energy (and cost!)-saving and natural bleaching powers of the spring sun’s rays! If you’re an observer of Lent, you can take on this chore as a sacrifice and even use the alone time to focus on Lenten prayers.
3) If you’re a “cloth diaper collector” like I am, don’t add to your stash right now. (See #4.)

4)  Buy diapers to donate to a family in need. I know I love to check my mail and find a package with that familiar eLeMeNO-Pee label or to get a phone call from the home office, now that it’s local to me, saying my fluffy items are ready to be picked up. But one thing I’ve learned is that receiving “fluffy mail” is just as thrilling when I’m not keeping the items! There are so many good reasons to donate cloth diapers, and there are many venues through which to donate—either directly to a family you know or through an organization like Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.
5) Let your love for cloth inspire. Tell your friends about cloth diapers, and refer them to their local eLeMeNO-Pee representative, especially if you’re a busy mama (aren’t we all?) and you know they’ll have lots of questions. You might also let your love for cloth diapers become a love for a “cloth life” in general—use this time to explore other cloth options like mama cloth, unpaper towels, and even cloth that replaces tissues and toilet paper. These will benefit your family’s health and finances and reduce your carbon footprint. Again, if you’re observing Lent, allow the adjustment period—when you’re adding a couple loads of extra laundry to your weekly routine—to be part of your Lenten sacrifice!

6) Participate in the Great Cloth Diaper Change. This annual springtime event, which is timed to coincide with Earth Day, is a Guinness World Records event with locations all over the world. It’s a great opportunity for you to join other cloth diapering families in solidarity to inspire others to jump in for the betterment of the earth by… changing your baby's diaper! The idea is that cloth skeptics might see just how simple modern cloth diapers are and be inspired to join the revolution. Many major cloth diaper manufacturers are sponsors of the event, and they donate door prizes and free gifts to the retailers who host locations! This year, the event falls on April 21st at 10 am central. eLeMeNO-Pee is proudly hosting the Lake Charles location.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Changing cloth diapers is a snap! Or... a Velcro?

One of the first concepts that shocks and pleases folks when they're discovering modern cloth diapers is that, Wowee!, changing them is no different than changing a disposable diaper, especially if you use diapers that fasten with hook-and-loop tabs.

Any real difference here between the way this Tots Bots Easy Fit and a disposable diaper are put on a baby?

[Time out: "hook-and-loop" is the generic name for the fastening products created by brands such as Velcro, Aplix, and Touchtape. It's sort of like "tissue" v. Kleenex. Since the diaper brands we carry make use of all different brands of hook-and-loop fasteners, we'll stick with the generic--abbreviated h&l from now on. K, back to our regularly scheduled info-blogging.]

Then, when folks look into major brands like FuzziBunz, they'll notice that all FuzziBunz diapers fasten with snaps, which the company advertises hold up best over time (and now come with a lifetime warranty!).

So, which is best?

There's no clear-cut answer, unfortunately. That's why there are so many choices on the market!

This is something your local rep, an experienced cloth diapering mom herself, can help you figure out so that you maximize your satisfaction with your diapers while maintaining the money savings that may have had you looking into cloth diapers to begin with. Keep in mind that there's a resale market, and cloth diapers go for 50-80% of their retail value, so if you happen to be dissatisfied with a diaper because you thought you'd like one type of fastener and you realize you'd prefer another, reselling your diapers to help fund the purchase of new ones is always an option!

Here's a quick pro/con breakdown for hook & loop:

  • Makes for super-quick, easy changes.
  • Is less daunting for childcare providers and skeptical grandmas.
  • Comes with "laundry tabs," meaning that, theoretically, the "scratchy" part (the hook) will not tear fabric it is washed with.
  • Allows for the best possible fit--there's no possibility of a baby's waist being "between sizes" when adjustability is maximized. This, in my opinion, holds the most weight in terms of value over the snaps alternative.
  • Can wear out faster with washing and drying; laundry tabs sometimes need to be replaced in order to be effective.
  • Can cause the top flap of the diaper to turn inward at baby's belly, rubbing a raw spot. This is not everybody's experience (and it hasn't been mine), but it is something to consider.
  • The sound that resonates from "undoing" h&l can wake a light sleeper if a middle-of-the-night change is required.
  • Some babies discover how easy it is to remove a diaper fastened with hook-and-loop, and persistent ones will remove a diaper even while fully clothed. I gotta tell you, once my daughter got in this habit, she was doing it in her sleep. Not cool.
And a breakdown for the snaps camp:
  • Snaps are durable and hold up beautifully to daily wear and laundering.
  • If you memorize the snap settings that give you the best fit on your baby, then changes become super-quick, and the diaper goes on straight even if your newly-mobile-and-proud little rascal is crawling away (or attempting Downward Dog).
  • In my opinion, the "look" is cleaner and neater.
  • High-quality resin snaps are much more difficult for a baby to "undo," and they don't give that satisfying crunch-rrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiip sound that babies seek out when they play with h&l fasteners.
  • Pre-determined snap settings can lead to some gapping at the waist or around the thighs. This can cause leaks for some hard-to-fit body types. I find this especially true in the newborn stage.
  • Picture this scenario: Dad is already a little skeptical of cloth diapers (and didn't get to come to your consultation with your local rep). He's left alone with your new baby while you take your shower, and he hears the tell-tale squirty, sort of... bubbly sound that we all know signifies a fresh mess. He stares downward at what looks to him like dozens of snaps, maybe a hundred snaps... and he has no idea how to make this diaper fit your baby. Ok, this isn't really a con, because it makes for a funny photo op for the baby book. I would probably stage it if it didn't happen. But the point is: snaps can be a little daunting for the cloth-skeptical!
So how do you choose?

Ideally, there's room in a cloth diaper stash for a little of both.

If you're planning to have a separate stash of newborn diapers, h&l is a fantastic option! No busy hands are trying to remove any diapers, the baby is sleeping deeply enough that you shouldn't have to worry about the sound waking her, everybody in your life will be happy to change diapers for you because, well, how is it any different than changing a disposable?, and you'll get a perfect fit.

If you're looking for a single, streamlined one-size stash to use from birth to potty-training, you may want to go with snaps. Longevity rules the day; isn't that what they always say? It should be!

As for me, I'm slowly replacing my beloved classic SoftBums with SoftBums withLinkSnaps, saving my classics for my next newborn. Why? Because a certain little diva began removing them--even under pants--before she hit her first birthday.

If you sew and you've got a baby Houdini on your hands, too, you may consider using a snap press and converting your h&l diapers to diapers with snap closures. If you're like me and can't thread a needle without risking an aneurysm, consider the "snap version" of your favorite diapers when it's time to size-up (or pass down your current diapers to a new addition).

And, lastly, eLeMeNO-Pee diapers are chosen because they are high-quality diapers made by manufacturers who stand behind their products and back them with warranties. While h&l is known to wear out over time, the products we carry that make use of h&l do hold up! My DryBees fleece overnight pockets are nearly three years old and no worse for the wear.
Finally, here's a tip from our representative Nicole, who highly prefers h&l fasteners for her harder-to-fit daughter: "If you only hang dry, you occasionally have to throw hook and loop in the dryer so it will stay sticky."

For more discussion from our cloth diapering clients, hop on over to our Facebook Page!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mama cloth: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love, well, you know...

You know, mama cloth isn't just for mamas.

"Cloth menstrual pads" just sounds so... clinical, though, doesn't it? And, as many women have told me, a little gross.

It was a stretch for me to try them, I won't lie to you. You skeptics have my sympathy. The idea of washing "that" was a hard one for me to wrap my head around. I was cloth diapering for a full year and a half--washing pee and poop nearly every day--before I could bring myself to wash "that."

But after the birth of my daughter, my second child, I couldn't imagine using disposable pads... ever again!

This is what convinced me:

After giving birth, every woman passes lochia for 3-6 weeks, and tampon use is not only sternly disrecommended, but it's just plain dangerous.

That means shelling out about $12 for a pack of 20 "heavy flow" disposable maxi pads with wings. Twenty pads? That wouldn't get me through two days if I were changing frequently enough to not feel, well, utterly disgusting. This is lochia we're talking about. For the first week, I would probably require a pack a day. I confess I'm a little neurotic about changing frequently.

Suppose we did go with that, though--with only 20 pads every two days after the initial week. That's $42 a week for a minimum of two weeks, but more likely five weeks.

In case your toddler has commandeered your only calculator by playing "Where's Puppy" on your iPhone for the 73rd time today (mine has), and you can't do simple multiplication because of that phenomenon we all call "mommy brain" (I can't), that's $84 the first week, and $42 for each additional week. That's $294 in disposable menstrual products. (Before you ask, I did have to track down my husband's calculator for that. He "doesn't believe in smartphones." I guess his old-fashioned electronic instruments are good for something.)

When I first did the math, and after I picked my jaw up off the floor, my first thought was, Do you know how many adorable newborn cloth diapers I could buy for $294???

Instead, I spent about $90 on cloth pads of various sizes. I washed and dried them twice a day (and if I'd bought more, I could have stretched that out much longer), never once experiencing the dread of almost running out and sending a mortified husband out on a grocery store run at 10 pm because the baby wouldn't.stop.eating long enough to let me do an errand.

So that's more than 200% savings just to cover the postpartum pad-wearing stage, and you recover your loss in just a few weeks.

What could you do with that extra $204?
  • Hire a postpartum doula or a cleaning service to help take the load off as you recover from childbirth and adjust to life with a newborn.
  • Get a massage and pedicure... twice.
  • Treat your husband to a fancy date night.
  • Stock up on coffee, your new best friend. Welcome to life with a newborn!
  • Save it. College isn't getting any more affordable.
  • Donate it. Buy two pregnant women their own stashes of mama cloth.
The best part? Not only did I more than recoup my $90 in the first week-and-a-half postpartum, but my stash of soft, comfortable, absorbent pads was waiting for me when the old monthly visitor started coming around again just in time for my daughter's first birthday party.

And here's the real kicker:

Cloth menstrual pads are chemical-free and linked to shorter, lighter, less crampy periods.

For the longest, I thought that was just a sales pitch. But it's true! My menstrual periods post-mama cloth have been an average of 2 days shorter than they were when I was using chemical-filled disposables. I can change them every time I go to the bathroom guilt-free, knowing that the money has already been spent and will never need to be spent again, which makes each period as comfortable as a period can be.

You've reached eLeMeNO-Pee because you're interested in using cloth diapers instead of disposables on your baby, and part of your reasoning is probably that cloth diapers are non-toxic. Have you thought about the toxins in disposable menstrual pads? Forget looking at labels; look at their advertising. "Infinicel?" What IS that? I'll tell you one thing, "infinity" is not the duration of time I'm interested in wearing a pad for.

Plus, who can resist a cloth pad when it looks like the new Party in my Pants thong liners?

There's no way you can say mama cloth is only for frumpy, uber-eco-friendly moms. Eco-chic is in, sister. Saving money is in. A chemical-free period is in.

What do you have to lose?

Your local rep
can help you figure out how many you'll need, and eLeMeNO-Pee carries Party in My Pants cloth pads, so you can choose between multiple lengths, thicknesses, and styles to suit your clothing choices, your flow, and your lifestyle.