Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How We Became Hippie Parents, Part 2

I know, everyone's just been *waiting* for me to continue. Har har. But Rachel said I should go ahead and blog about the things I'm enthusiastic about discovering. (Thank you, Rachel.)

So after a natural childbirth (no thanks to the Harrington rods), the next hippie step we took was cloth diapers.

We were fortunate to have a storefront cloth diaper store (which moved from Florida to Minnesota), so we were able to go in and look and feel the various kinds of diapers they had, and even have the employees there (one at a time) tell us about the various differences between them, and about the various accessories which others had found useful. Basically, I really liked the BumGenius 3.0 One Size pocket diapers, and we were (again) fortunate to be able to make an investment in 24 of the suckers.

BumGenius 3.0 One Size, after 21 months of use:
+excellent absorbency (compared with a few days of disposable/explodable diapers)
+good fit and easy to adjust the size with snaps
---velcro wears out somewhat easily; others have dealt with this by replacing the velcro tabs (getting replacement tabs for free (at the time) from the manufacturer, although I can't find a link now, and sewing them on themselves)

My workaround for the velcro problem: when I take the diaper covers out of the dryer (which also helps with the velcro), I (1) pinch out large clumps of whatever they've picked up (thread and lint; the laundry tabs were the first things to go) and then (2) pinch each hook-side tab together, rubbing it against itself which helps keep the tab from curling further, and (3) keep Teddy in a onesie, often with shorts, to make sure that the diaper stays on (overalls do not work with this tactic, for the most part)

So, if I had to choose again, I would pick something similar (pocket diaper), but make all the adjustable parts with snaps, like the new BumGenius One Size, and like FuzziBunz have been doing all the time (that I know of).

We really only needed the diapers, but there have been a few accessories purchases I highly suggest: cloth diaper pail liners (with a diaper pail, i.e., trash can with step-on lid-opener from Target) and the awesome diaper sprayer (also good for rinsing the tub or feet!).

But cloth diapering is not the extent of the scatological hippieness, oh no! (I wonder how many hits my blog will get for that phrase...) There's something called Elimination Communication (or EC), and it's sort of like potty training (hopefully the end result is the same: the child learning to use the potty himself) but it isn't quite. Basically, it's paying attention to your child and figuring out when he needs to go (after waking up, before and after a bath, around mealtimes, and before bedtime are good places to start trying), and taking him. If he can't sit up yet, you can hold him over the potty. I recommend bringing a book (for you or him) or having special toys to play with on the potty (easily washable is good -- use your dishwasher for extra clean after cleaning it yourself) or fun songs to sing using your fingers (Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, The Eensy-Weensy Spider, and a Romanian elephant counting song (the one where they're swinging in a spider web, which I've found in several language variants, but I only know the Romanian one, thanks to my husband) were the ones we used for Teddy).

(1) I read The Diaper Free Baby and realized: "Hey, I don't have to do this all the time. Each time Teddy uses the potty is a little victory, and eventually, the diapers will go away. Each time Teddy misses, it's okay; I'll just clean up and move on." (Poop in the potty (with a diaper rinser) versus poopy diaper (and the poo will get all over his everything is a no-brainer; if you're still confused, potty = good. The second part, moving on, was crucial for me and my husband.)

(2) I read this post by a Montessori teacher and mother, and was blown away with the realization that I didn't have to put the potty on the bathroom floor! I could put it on the counter (with a heck of a lot of supervision, but much easier on my back); I could put it in the bathtub (for misses, any tendency to tip the potty over, or just so he couldn't escape ... as easily, or I could put it in the kitchen if that's where we were).

(3) I bought three potties at IKEA (Lättsam) after reading reviews which said they're cheap (yes) and easy to clean (yes). Now we have one in each bathroom and one at my mother's house. Teddy was terrified of the adult-size toilet, and the only good toddler toilet seat I found isn't made for elongated toilet bowls.

I started Teddy using the potty when he was about eight months old. I am glad to have a sister who encouraged me with her experience; she's lived for a bit in India and started her children sitting (terrified that they'd fall in, from what I remember) on the toilet when they were about six months old. I also got training pants from her, and Teddy will pick "underwear" over "diaper" almost every single time. (Which wreaks havoc on my usual laundry schedule which is based on having three diapers left; I may recover.) Today, at 21 months, he has learned to pull down his own underwear (okay, take it all the way off, despite my best efforts) when asked (although he's starting to have more initiative), tell me that he's going pee-pee (usually after he has, a little, but less and less each time), sit on and use the potty, and, awesomely, tell me when he's done—or not. (I love asking: "Are you all done? Are you finished?" and getting his exasperated: "No! Pee-pee!" like he's saying, "Hey, quit trying to rush me! I'm all grown up and using the potty all by myself!") Of course, today we had three instances of poopy diapers (one in the swim diaper,* alas, but I still think we're making progress overall.

*Swim diapers by Imse Vimse and Speedo (found at Target, in their kids' summer swim gear section) have been pretty awesome for our little fish.

In sum, here's my advice:
*Find a place to look at actual cloth diapers before you buy, and steer away from velcro if you can. (Used diapers can often be found on craigslist.) Follow the manufacturer's washing instructions as best you can! I really like the one-size pocket diapers.
*Totally get a diaper rinser. (Make sure your toilet has the adjustable connection to the wall plumbing.) The cloth diaper bags are a good idea, but you'll need two, since you'll be washing one and still need something to put soiled linens in.
*Read The Diaper Free Baby and consider whether this is something you're interested in. You don't have to buy anything extra and you might find that it's easier than you thought, especially since you just have to take it one potty trip at a time.
*Get a potty or toilet seat you and your child are comfortable with. (I figured that if Teddy's screaming about sitting on the toilet, he probably won't be relaxed enough to use it, and since the IKEA potties had good reviews and were under $4, I could experiment.)

Why did we choose cloth diapers? The main point was cost. It's cheaper to use cloth diapers than disposables ... and if we have another child, we'd only pay to use the washing machine (and dryer). The initial investment can be difficult, but we found it to be worth it. Another point was reducing our trash so we don't build up the landfills as much. I admit, I still use plastic bags to carry dirty diapers home, but there are cloth bags which do the same. I think I also read somewhere that human waste isn't supposed to go in the trash, so I feel better about putting waste in the toilet.

My mother was initially horrified at the cost of the new-fangled diapers compared to the cloth diapers she'd used for me (prefolds with pins (augh!) and plastic pants (again: augh!), but once Teddy and I visited her house, she seemed to fall in love with them, and ask me to tell her friend (with a new grandbaby) all about them.

There's still more weird parenting choices to blog about, so either wait (another 18 months!?) or let me know you want more.

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