Book Reviews: “The Gentle Parenting Book” and “Your Self-Confident Baby”

I chose both of these books to read as I continue to ask the fundamental question: “Now that I’ve had my gentle, amazing HypnoBirth, how can I carry HypnoBirthing’s philosophies into the raising of my child?” Magda Gerber is famous as the founder of the “RIE” philosophy, which stands for “Resources for Infant Educarers,” a style of raising children from birth to the age of two. She founded RIE in 1973 in Los Angeles, and I’ve found that some of the parenting books that I gravitate towards, namely No Bad Kids and Elevating Child Care, both by Janet Lansbury, refer to her work frequently. I liked the title of The Gentle Parenting Book, and Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s name rang a bell in my mind, so I thought I would give her book a read as well.

The first thing I’d like to say about both of these books is that they are amazing in their own ways, and their material is very similar. There are a few basic differences between the books, but I am so glad I read both of them and would highly recommend them to any HypnoBirthing parents asking the question, “Ok, what next?” The Gentle Parenting Book emphasizes instinctive parenting — trusting your own instincts and basic judgments for how to raise your child while treating your child with respect as an autonomous being. It also recommends ignoring all of the people who want to give you advice or criticize you for your parenting skills. I feel like every page reinforced the instinctive parenting that I’ve strived for as I’ve raised my daughter. Sarah outlines the seven C’s: Connection, Communication, Control, Containment, Confidence and Consistency, as the ways to maintain that respect for your child, and at the end of each chapter, she details how the seven C’s come into play with every category of parenting your child. She stresses that gentle parents come in all shapes and sizes: parents who have home births, hospital births, Cesarean births; parents who nurse until their child is two, parents who formula feed; parents who send their children to public schools and parents who home school. It’s about researching your options and making the very best decision for you and your family with the life circumstances you have, as well as taking care of yourself and making sure that your needs are met too. It was a beautiful parallel of the HypnoBirthing philosophy. She even uses the acronym that I teach from the HypnoBirthing syllabus: “Use your BRAINS: What are the Benefits, what are the Risks, what Alternatives can you choose, what do your Instincts tell you, and what is the harm of doing Nothing?” The topics she covers are broad and apt: choosing childcare providers, handling tantrums, gentle discipline, toilet training, picky eaters, television, new siblings, and much more.

Your Self-Confident Baby is also about gentle parenting, and maintains the need for respecting your little ones as they explore their boundaries and challenge you. I would say that one difference between the books is that Gentle Parenting has examples of parenting from birth to age seven, while Your Self-Confident Baby has a narrower range of birth to the age of two. Another difference is that Magda also seems to create more structure and instruction for parenting skills, such as only allowing toddlers to eat while sitting at a table, or letting them cry for a little while before rushing in to “help” them to see if they can help themselves first. The pause encourages them to solve their own problems and grow competent and confident instead of waiting for someone to help them. The RIE philosophy in Your Self-Confident Baby essentially trains babies and toddlers in the skills needed to be autonomous, confident, happy children while being connected to their parents. She encourages parents to childproof sections of their homes so that the babies and toddlers can play independently of their parents without endangering themselves. In communication, she emphasizes reflecting back to children what you think they are experiencing, such as, “You both want the doll. Rikki took the doll from you, Anna, and you didn’t like it.” This is the same thing that Gentle Parenting teaches, and I love that parents are reflecting the child’s emotions back to him/her instead of trying to fix their problems or minimize their emotions(i.e., “You’re fine.”). The only thing I found unsettling about the book is that she recommends the Ferber method of sleep training, which has been widely panned as a traumatic way to train your children to sleep on their own, leaving them feeling abandoned and shut-down. I could see her perspective to it, though: if you treat your child respectfully and don’t just leave them to cry it out, you can teach your child quickly that it’s safe and ok to sleep in their bed by themselves without any tricks or techniques from their parents to “help” them fall asleep. They also learn that their parents are close by, and they feel secure when they fall asleep. While the Ferber method has been discredited, I can see that Magda’s interpretation of the Ferber method might have some gems to it, especially since my four-year-old still insists on falling asleep with either me or my husband in bed with her, and I can also see how I trained her to be this way. I also have to say that I treasure falling asleep with her, and I know that she’ll outgrow this soon enough and I’ll be yearning for the nights when I was snuggling up with my little girl and falling asleep together.

Now I have a story to tell. Just a few days ago, my daughter’s preschool class went on a field trip to the local pumpkin patch. There is a little girl in her class who is probably about two and a half years old and cute as a button. She’s been having difficulty integrating into the class, and as a parent volunteer on the field trip, I gravitated towards her to help her feel a little more secure as she stood and said repeatedly that she wanted her mother. I thought about what the books had said, about treating children respectfully and not just saying, “There, there. Everything is fine. You’ll be all right.” I thought about how I would reflect her emotions back to her, and how I could comfort her. What I said to her was “Your mother will be here soon,” which was true because at that time, class was ending in about 30 minutes. She kept saying that she wanted her mother, and I kept saying that her mother would be back soon. Well, all of a sudden, I realized that she had been holding onto her pee and was having a pee accident. She became very upset about it. As her teacher was changing her and she was crying, I knelt down at her level and said, “You had a pee accident. That must have been scary for you.” She nodded her head. Then I said to her, “I want to apologize to you. You were telling me you wanted your mommy, but what I really should have asked you was what you wanted your mommy for.” She nodded her head and said, “To help me go pee pee.” It’s hard to say why this interaction inspired me so much, except that in just a few minutes time, I really understood that treating children respectfully and striving to get into their worlds to understand their needs a little bit better is a powerful, powerful thing. I might have just comforted her and said, “You’re ok,” but by my getting to the root of her motivation, she felt more secure with me and actually relaxed right before her mother arrived to pick her up. And I learned a little bit more about questions to ask toddlers.

So, there it is. Read both of these books. They will teach you aspects of listening to your children that will blow your mind.

Flame Retardants in Baby Sleepwear: the Invisible Poison

Emily in her Fleece PJs (Before I Knew about Flame Retardants in Sleepwear)

Emily in her Fleece PJs (Before I Knew about Flame Retardants in Sleepwear)

I learned last week that pretty much all of the baby microfleece sleepwear out there is coated with flame retardants. So, today, I spent the afternoon going through Emily’s sleepwear and chucking all of the microfleece. I suppose that somewhere in the back of my mind, I suspected that it was all toxic, but the prints were cute, and I had other topics to think about. I recently joined DiaperSwappers, and one of the discussion threads mentioned the flame retardants used in fleece pajamas. Say, what? A lightbulb went off in my head.

I immediately Googled “flame retardants in baby sleepwear.” Here’s what I found:

Ok, the first thought that went through my head was, “My baby doesn’t smoke in bed, so who cares?” But babies don’t generally catch on fire from lying around in their cribs — they crawl and toddle too close to fireplaces, stoves, candles, space heaters, and other sources of heat. Since we have a wood stove that heats the house, I just bought a metal fence that surrounds it and keeps little hands, feet, and other body parts and clothing far away. Before I installed the fence, Emily would always make a beeline for the wood stove in the morning. It was impossible to steer her in another direction, because she would always head back to the stove just like it was a beacon in the darkness. I feel better now.

In 1971, Congress passed a law declaring that all baby sleepwear from 9 months to size 14 needed to be flame resistant enough to self-extinguish if exposed to an open flame for 3 seconds or more. At first, companies used an extremely toxic flame retardant called TRIS on baby pajamas, but it was phased out in 1977 because it caused cancer and sterility in test animals. Nice. In 1996, Congress decided that tight-fitting cotton sleepwear didn’t need to be doused in flame retardants because the snugness of the sleepwear prevented the flow of oxygen between the garment and the baby’s skin and automatically prevented the sleepwear from catching on fire. But worried parents still demanded flame-resistant sleepwear. Cotton sleepwear is now being treated with a chemical called PROBAN, which has been linked with genetic damage, cancer, and damage to the liver and nervous system. The fleece fabric in baby pajamas is almost always treated with flame retardants. Even if a company brags that its fleece sleepwear has not been treated with flame retardants, the fabric itself might have been chemically bonded with the flame retardants before the garment manufacturing process even began, and the clothing company doesn’t have to disclose that information to you. It’s a bit deceptive. Emily’s fleece sleepbags and blanket pajamas had no labelling of any kind indicating they were doused with toxic chemicals. Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t, but I chucked them all just to be sure.

So, I’m going to just assume that all fleece sleepwear contains flame retardants. But how do you figure out which cotton sleepwear contains PROBAN? Look at the label. If it is flame retardant-free, the tag should say, “For child’s safety, garment should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant. Loose-fitting garment is more likely to catch fire.” The permanent label should say, “Wear snug fitting. Not flame resistant.” I chucked a lot of cotton sleepwear that was neither snug-fitting nor labelled as not flame resistant. I also discovered tags that offered laundering instructions to preserve the flame retardant properties of the sleepwear. I chucked those garments too.

So, how do you keep those harmful chemicals away from babies while keeping babies safe from fire? Here are some options for you:

  1. Be a label reader. Stay away from microfleece sleepwear and look for garments that say, “Not intended for sleepwear” or “This garment is not flame resistant.”
  2. Choose organic cotton sleepwear or other natural fibers like bamboo.
  3. Make sure your baby’s natural fiber sleepwear is snug-fitting.
  4. Fall in love with wool. Wool is naturally fire-resistant and keeps babies warm in winter and cool in the summer. This winter, Emily has been sleeping in a merino wool sleepsack over a long-sleeved merino wool onesie and footed pajama pants that are all made by a company called Woolino. With the nights warming up a bit in the last week, I’ve been dressing her in a short-sleeved cotton onesie over a Disana wool diaper cover and covered by the Woolino sleepsack.
  5. Remove sources of flame from your baby’s proximity or put barriers around them.

We have enough toxic chemicals in our environment. Please do your very best to keep your baby safe from fire, but use natural alternatives to flame retardants whenever you can.

Don’t get me started on the baby products like car seats, crib mattresses, and changing pads containing polyurethane foam that are completely doused in toxic flame retardants. I’ll save that rant for another day.

Stealth Manicures: How to Trim Your Baby’s Nails

Trimming Your Baby's NailsWhen Emily was born, I bought a pair of Green Sprout baby nail clippers. How difficult could trimming baby nails possibly be? Famous last words. I know that some moms just bite their baby’s nails to trim them, but I could never get into that. I’m just not a nail biter. This means that every week since Emily was born, I have had to trim those ^**%# nails!

At first, I could trim her nails when she was awake, but that only lasted about three months while she was in her quiescent newborn stage. Now she wants to grab the clippers out of my hands, wave her hands around, and crawl away while I’m trying not to trim the tips of her fingers off. It’s a complete disaster. So now I’m doing the stealth manicure: trimming her nails while she is sleeping. At first, I would turn the nightlight on and get right in there with the clippers at bedtime or naptime. In the darkened bedroom, nail trimming was only so effective, and her nails were long again by the next week. I thought about buying a headlamp, but it wasn’t high on my priorities list. She always wears footed pajama pants and a sleep sack to bed, so trimming her toenails almost never happened. Luckily, I could peel the tips of her toenails to trim them, so that was a project that was mostly successful during the day (except for the big toes).

The next smart thing I did was invest in a nice pair of teeny tiny, pointed tip, curved blade cuticle scissors. That was a huge step up from the clippers. I don’t think I ever want to use those stupid clippers again. Seriously, what was Green Sprout thinking when they designed them? I accidentally impaled Emily’s thumb once while trying to clip the nail. Poor little baby — I thought I had maimed her forever. I learned to pull the skin of each finger down and away before I trimmed the nail, but it was still a harrowing experience, even with a sleeping baby. The cuticle scissors weren’t perfect, but there was no more fear of finger maiming, and suddenly I was able to trim her hangnails!

Last week, I bought a pair of blunt-tip baby nail scissors, and I’m embarrassed that I took so long to buy them. I found the nail scissors on, and the users rated them very highly (just short of 5 stars). They’re called Piyo Piyo scissors, and they’re made in Taiwan.

Now that I’ve made plenty of mistakes and figured some things out along the way, I have some gems to share with you.

How to Trim Your Baby’s Nails:

  1. Buy a pair of baby nail scissors and the tiniest cuticle scissors you can find
  2. Put both pairs of scissors in your purse
  3. Trim your baby’s nails when your baby is ASLEEP
  4. The best time to trim them is when your baby is asleep in their car seat in broad daylight. Don’t even mess with the darkened room stealth manicure. In the car, you can actually see what you’re doing, and you can trim off hangnails as well as fingernails and toenails with your duo scissor combo.
  5. Don’t buy baby nail clippers. They are seriously scary.
  6. If you’re planning a stealth pedicure, make sure your baby isn’t covered by a blanket or wearing socks when the car ride starts

If your baby doesn’t fall asleep in the car seat, I’m really very sorry for you. Buy a headlamp and remember to plan stealth pedicures in advance: no blankets, footed pajamas or socks before sleeptime. May the Force be with you.


Book Review: “The Attachment Parenting Book,” by William & Martha Sears

About 14 years ago, my friend Roxy gave birth to her daughter Isabelle. She told me that she and her husband were following the “attachment parenting” philosophy. I was new on the birthing world scene, and hadn’t heard of it before. She described attachment parenting to me, and I was so inspired that I went out and purchased this book, “The Attachment Parenting Book,” by William and Martha Sears. It has sat on my bookshelf for the entire time, waiting for me to have my own children. When I became pregnant with my daughter this past year, I knew it was time to read the book. After I read it, I set it down for seven months. When I was getting ready to write this review, I thought I would need to read the book again, but while I was leafing through it, I realized that I’ve just seamlessly integrated the attachment parenting philosophy into my life.

Attachment parenting is the philosophy that babies become smarter, healthier, happier and calmer when you are bonded to them. “Attachment” means both having them literally attached to you through breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping, and also bonding with them — paying close attention to and responding to their body language, communication, and energy signals. This philosophy focuses on the emotional development of the child, and argues that children who grow up having their needs met grow up well-adjusted and confident in themselves and in the world. It’s not a new philosophy, but really validates parents’ natural intuition of how to take care of their babies, and returns more to how indigenous cultures raise their children.

This book has seven focal points (the 7 “B’s”) that it uses to explain attachment parenting:

  1. Bonding with your baby at birth
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Babywearing
  4. Bedsharing
  5. Belief in baby’s cries
  6. Balance and boundaries
  7. Beware of baby trainers

Birth bonding asks parents to spend lots of quality time with their babies immediately after birth and beyond. Skin-to-skin contact is very important to calm and soothe the newborn, as is giving them lots of touch, making eye contact, talking with them, and noticing them when they are in a state of quiet alertness, which is when they are most receptive to their environment. Bonding is better achieved by delaying medical procedures that are commonly administered to newborns, breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, and always staying in the same room as your baby. To help you bond with your baby better after birth, they recommend taking maternity and paternity leaves, ignoring baby advice that is counter-intuitive, getting help when you need it, eating well and often, getting exercise as well as lots of rest, and learning to delegate tasks to Dad so that Mom can get her needs met.

I feel like breastfeeding, babywearing and bed sharing are at the core of the regular practices of attachment parents. The book goes on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding, which includes better eyesight and hearing, better smiles, healthier lungs, fewer respiratory and food allergies, healthier digestive tracts, healthier skin, better eating habits that protect them from becoming obese as adults, immune protection from childhood illnesses, and healthier moms. Because of the close contact between breastfeeding moms and their babies, moms learn to read their babies better, and can respond quickly to babies’ cues that they are hungry, tired, or something else. The chapter on breastfeeding is a pretty good pep talk for helping moms breastfeed successfully, including where to go for support. It includes a list of long-term benefits of breastfeeding, and again advises moms to follow baby’s signals and their intuition for breastfeeding, rather than trying to put their baby on a feeding schedule.

The babywearing chapter is also a good pep talk. Babywearing is all about the baby being in the arms of one of its parents most of the time (at least three hours a day). Your baby is literally attached to you with a sling or a carrier, and feels comfortable and safe. It can be a witness and participant in your daily activities and learn about its world through your eyes rather than being on a mat or in a stroller with some toys shoved in its face. Babywearing helps babies be calm and content as they are close to mom. They travel around in a state of quiet alertness and learn about the world as you go through your daily actions. Babywearing enhances speech development as they are tuning into your conversations and listening to your voice. It makes you attentive to their needs with them so close to you. Babies breastfeed better in slings, so wearing your baby can help eliminate breastfeeding difficulties. You can also run errands and go out in the world more easily with them on you as they slip into that state of quiet alertness instead of fussing and crying, and doing chores around the house is easier as well when you have a quiet baby on you instead of them crying for you on an activity mat.

The co-sleeping chapter was very useful to me personally. The message is: “If William and Martha Sears could do it, I can do it too.” Parents have been co-sleeping with their babies for thousands of years, and it’s only been recently that co-sleeping has been looked at with fear and horror by society. Everyone says, “You’re not supposed to sleep with your baby,” and yet we seem to be the only mammals that put our babies so far away from us when we sleep. The chapter encourages attached parents to sleep either in the same bed, with an attached co-sleeper, or at least in the same room. Mothers who bedshare with their babies continue that empathic bond all night long. Babies cry a lot less at night because they are close to mom and their needs can be met easily. Mothers sleep better because they don’t have to trek down the hallway, nurse the baby, put the baby back to sleep, and then trek back to their bedroom multiple times each night. They just nurse the baby and then fall back to sleep. They are very responsive to their baby in bed, and babies love it. The chapter includes safety tips for how to co-sleep without putting your baby in danger, and includes a very informative piece on SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and Dr. Sears’ hypothesis that SIDS is caused by a sleeping disorder in young infants. He argues that attachment parenting and co-sleeping allow mothers to pay close attention to the breathing of their babies and respond if the breathing changes in any way. There is also advice for weaning your baby off co-sleeping and nighttime nursing when it’s time.

Belief in the value of a baby’s cry continues the close bond you have formed with your baby. This chapter in the book emphasizes that whenever your baby cries, it is communicating with you rather than “manipulating” you. Babies stop crying when parents respond to them, and develop and strong sense of trust that their needs will be met. By paying attention, you can also notice the baby’s “pre-cry signals,” and you can address their needs before they even start crying. As a result of this close attention and response, attached babies cry less. Of course, there are times when a baby needs to cry to alleviate tension, but having a loving, supportive parent right there for them helps them through it. According to this chapter, letting a baby “cry it out” is not only unhealthy for the baby, it has been scientifically debunked as a parenting technique. Babies who are allowed to “cry it out” without receiving comfort by their parents actually cry more and are more clingy and dependent on their parents. The end of the chapter includes some advice for parents whose babies cry a lot.

The rest of the book includes advice on creating balance in your life and in your relationship with your baby and your partner by setting boundaries with your baby so that you can avoid burnout. It also advises attached parents to avoid “baby trainers:” people who give you counter-intuitive advice on how to raise your baby and put them on feeding and sleeping schedules, rather than relying on your own biological signals to tell you what is right for your baby. There is a chapter on staying attached while being a working parent, a chapter on being an attached father, a chapter for attachment parenting in special situations, and a chapter of testimonials.

All in all, I feel like this is one of the only books that parents need to read about how to take care of a newborn. If you read this book and “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” you’ll be set for months after your baby is born. What really struck me about “The Attachment Parenting Book” was how very intuitive this book is. The advice made sense to me on a very deep level. I have followed its wisdom ever since my daughter was born. She is bright-eyed, inquisitive, and has a look of calm observation when we go walking together with her in the baby carrier. We have a sidecar co-sleeper that she uses for the first stretch of the night, and then she sleeps next to me and nurses on and off for the rest of the night. I feel well-rested and deeply bonded with this amazing little being. When she cries, I address her concerns as soon as possible, and we rarely have complete meltdowns. I am grateful that I read this book, and grateful to my friend for recommending it to me.

Cloth Diapering: Which Prefold Should I Buy?

Prefold diapers are my absolutely favorite way to diaper Emily. I love the many ways I can fold the diaper before wrapping it around her, securing it with a Snappi, and then throwing a cover over the top. I love it so much I call it “Diaper Origami.” I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve learned about prefolds so that you can purchase the ones that are right for you and your baby.

Why Prefolds are Terrific:

  1. You get 100% cotton or hemp touching your baby’s bum instead of plastic, gel, and chemicals
  2. Since they are natural fibers, they wash easily and don’t retain odors
  3. They are really absorbent
  4. If they get stained, you can lay your washed, damp prefolds out in the sun, and the sun will bleach them for you
  5. You can fold them in many different ways to custom fit your baby. Skinny or chunky — it doesn’t matter.
  6. They are very inexpensive
  7. They have a short drying time in the dryer, which I can’t say for the All-In-Ones or even some of the soakers and doublers out there
  8. They make terrific, highly coveted household rags when the diapering years are over

All Prefolds Are Not the Same

When you’re shopping for prefolds, you should know that all prefolds are not the same! Look for diapers labelled “Diaper Service Quality,” or DSQ for short. These are wide enough and long enough to fit a baby, and they usually have four layers of fabric on the sides and eight layers in the center. The fabric is usually either Indian cotton (a gauze fabric) or Chinese cotton (a twill), and it quilts up very nicely when you prewash it. You want that thick quilting in order for the diapers to absorb everything that comes out of your baby. You can also buy hemp prefolds, but they are VERY expensive. The two brands of cotton prefolds I recommend are the OsoCozy diapers and the Green Mountain Cloth-eez® diapers. Avoid the cheap brands that Target sells, like Gerber. They aren’t Diaper Service Quality and are better used as burp cloths.

OsoCozy Better Fit Prefolds

These diapers are shorter than normal diapers. They are specifically designed for you to fold them in thirds and place them in a diaper cover of your choice. The shorter length makes it so that they fit perfectly in the diaper cover without excess fabric hanging out the front or the back. This is the easiest way to diaper and it’s extremely husband-friendly. You don’t need to wrap the diaper around your baby at all. Simply fold into thirds, place in the cover, and secure the cover on your baby. Yes, it’s really that easy. There are no diaper pins or Snappis involved. This is actually the way that Tidee Didee, our local diaper service, recommends that you fold their diapers. My husband was very skeptical at first, because he exclusively used disposable diapers on his son, but he soon realized how easy this system was and I converted him into a cloth-diapering daddy. Now, a disadvantage of this is that you are more likely to get poop blowouts when your diaper is just floating around in a cover and isn’t nicely secured with a Snappi. But if you have a great diaper cover (Thirsties are my favorites, but any diaper cover will work), the poop stays nicely contained inside the cover and all you have to do is wipe your baby off, chuck the diaper and cover into the diaper pail, and whip out the next diaper and cover combo. I never had a poop stripe up the back of Emily’s shirt, ever. OsoCozy uses Indian cotton for their prefolds, which is a very soft, buttery gauze fabric. You can prewash it 2-3 times and it’s ready to use on your baby.

Of course, now that I’ve said you don’t need to Snappi it onto your baby, I’m going to turn around and say that when your baby is a smaller size, you can easily Snappi these diapers onto your baby without any problems. They are so short that they fit perfectly without you needing to fold the prefold down in the front or the back to make it fit onto your baby. I diapered Emily this way from birth to about 14 pounds (she weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces at birth and went down to 6 pounds 4 ounces right after birth). I used the OsoCozy Better Fit newborn size prefolds (with the purple edge-stitching) and size 1 Thirsties Duo Wraps along with some hand-me-down Tiny Tush extra small covers, which were a perfect size for my petite little girl. When she got to be about 12 pounds, we couldn’t really Snappi the diaper on her anymore, but trifolding it worked until she got old enough that she needed a larger diaper to absorb all of the pee she was producing. I just bought six of the red edge-stitched Better Fits that fit 14-30 pounds (just to see the difference between them and the Cloth-eez® diapers), and they are now truly the perfect size for her. I’m using the Snappi with them with no problems. Probably by 25 pounds, I’ll just be using the trifold method. And I love how soft they are! They are noticeably softer than the Cloth-eez®.

OsoCozy Prefolds (Standard Size)

When Emily outgrew her newborn prefolds, I was ready to buy the next size up. Now, I didn’t actually know that there was a difference between the Better Fit and the Standard Size prefolds (I thought they were all Better Fits), so I bought the Standard Size, which go from 15 – 30 pounds. Holy mackerel, those suckers are LONG!!!! I quickly learned the difference. This was ok with me, because I was excited to start practicing my Diaper Origami on Emily. There is extra fabric. A lot of extra fabric. These are perfect for a boy baby, because you can fold the front down into the “newspaper fold” and have a lot of absorbency right where little boys need it. I found that the size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap covers were stretched a little tightly around all that fabric, so I switched to some hand-me-down Thirsties size small wraps and my Imse Vimse wool covers. I generally fold the back of the prefold down (to nicely contain the poop) and do some kind of newspaper fold combined with an angel-wing fold, or I do a jelly roll fold. It’s fun, and I love not just folding the diaper into thirds, but I don’t need that much fabric. These really aren’t my favorite prefolds. Don’t buy them if you don’t have to. Learn from my mistake and buy a shorter diaper.

Green Mountain Cloth-eez® Prefolds

These prefolds are great! I bought a dozen red-edged organic ones last week when I was preparing to teach my Cloth Diapering 101 class to show the difference amongst the prefolds. These are made from Chinese cotton (a twill fabric instead of gauze), so the threads are heavier and longer-lasting than the Indian cotton in the OsoCozy prefolds. Because of the natural plant oils in the twill, you need to prewash these diapers 5-7 times before they’re ready to use on your baby. Twill has a reputation for being very durable, so these diapers will probably last you through several children (if you have that many). You can use these diapers like the Better Fit diapers and trifold them into a diaper cover OR you can do Diaper Origami and secure them with a Snappi. The shorter length is AWESOME! I like these so much that I’m going to sell off my OsoCozy standard size prefolds and just go with these and my new OsoCozy Better Fits. Emily doesn’t actually need a diaper as long as the Standard Size prefolds. The Cloth-eez® are literally about an inch and a half longer than the OsoCozy Better Fit diapers, so there really isn’t much difference between the two. I thought there would be a lot more contrast between the two of them, but I was wrong. I prefer to use a Snappi, so the Cloth-eez® will probably end up being my favorites when Emily gets bigger.

So, to sum it all up, if you just want to trifold your diaper and place it in a cover, order the OsoCozy Better Fit diapers or the Cloth-eez® diapers in the correct size. If you’re really into Diaper Origami and you have a heavy-wetting little boy, buy the OsoCozy Standard Size prefolds, fold them with the newspaper fold, and secure them with a Snappi. If you want the flexibility of using a Snappi or trifolding your diaper, buy the Cloth-eez® diapers. Have fun!

A few notes:


Disposable Diapers and Male Infertility

This was an interesting article in the BBC News from September 25, 2000, about how disposable diapers increase the scrotal temperature in boy babies by 1 degree, which can possibly lead to infertility and testicular cancer later on. And the sperm counts of European men had dropped 25% over the previous 25 years, which parallels the increased use of disposable diapers. Scary!

Nappy ‘Link to Infertility’

Cloth Diapering — All Microfiber is Not the Same

A microsuede liner in a pocket diaper

A microsuede liner in a pocket diaper

One of the great things about modern, high-tech diapers is microfiber technology. They absorb urine really well and they help babies feel dry. Now, personally, I prefer to diaper Emily in cotton (and hemp too!), but microfiber is very useful with nighttime diapering and with naps. There are three kinds of microfiber that are used in diapering, and I’ll explain the difference amongst them.

Microfiber terry

Microfiber terry is the kind of cloth most of us are now drying our windows with when we wash them(unless we’re using our recycled prefold diapers, LOL!). This fabric is soft and very absorbent. It can absorb eight times its weight in liquid in just two seconds, yet it dries quickly. It’s a favorite for nighttime diapering. It shows up in most of the inserts for pocket diapers. Microfiber terry should never be placed against baby’s skin because it pulls moisture from the skin, leaving baby feeling chapped and dry. Not so good! When I’m stuffing Emily’s night diapers, the microfiber immediately makes my hands feel dry. I hate touching it, really. It should always go inside the pocket of a pocket diaper or be sewn into the inside layer of a diaper. For babies who are super soakers at night, this fabric will keep the sheets dry!

Microfleece (or Polar Fleece)

This is the perfect fabric for wicking moisture away from baby’s skin and keeping their bum dry. Microfleece is soft, fluffy, and feels great against the skin. Think about a fleece jacket and how nice and fuzzy that feels. This is used on FuzziBunz Elite pocket diapers as the stay-dry layer. Microfleece doesn’t develop stink issues, and poop doesn’t stick to it. Gotta love that!!! The single-layer diaper liners that you can buy from BumGenius and BabyKicks are made from microfleece. Malden Mills reportedly makes the most coveted of all of the fleece fabrics used in diapering. I was gifted a hand-me-down Stacinator diaper cover, which isn’t even made anymore, but comes from the Malden Mills fleece. It’s a little big on Emily right now, but I think it will fit in the summer. Microfleece (and microsuede, for that matter) helps baby feel dry, and is great for babies who wake up whenever they feel wet.


Microsuede, on the other hand, is another stay-dry, moisture-wicking fabric that’s kind of like chamois cloth. It’s not so cuddly soft, and can stink like crazy if your diapers have detergent build-up or you’ve been using creams or ointments on your baby’s bum. Microsuede reminds me of going to the gym in a polypropylene workout shirt and having to hand-wash the stink out of the armpits of the shirt. BumGenius 4.0 uses microsuede in their pocket diapers, and Emily can certainly smell like a barnyard in the morning! But even with the stink, the microsuede keeps her dry and she doesn’t develop diaper rash. I’m contemplating stripping my BumGenius 4.0 diapers, sun-bleaching them, selling them, and converting over to the FuzziBunz Elite diapers just for the microfleece instead of the microsuede.

There you are! Happy diapering!

Cloth Diapering 101 — What You Need to Know

There are so many cloth diapering options now, the choices can be a little overwhelming for new moms. I’ve spent hours reading blog entries and online diaper store how-to’s, as well as watching YouTube videos. And then, of course, I have the real-life experience of diapering my daughter. You don’t need to be as meticulous as I’ve been on cloth diaper research. I’ve prepared a resources sheet for you with most of what you need to know.

How many diapers?

If you’re doing laundry every other day, you will need:

  • For a newborn: 24 diapers & 6-8 covers
  • For an older baby: 24-36 diapers & 6-8 covers
  • 3 nighttime diapers (either 3 pocket diapers with microfiber inserts and hemp doublers, or three fitted diapers with diaper covers)

You can have any combo of diapers you want: prefolds with covers, pocket diapers like BumGenius 4.0 or Fuzzibunz Elite, or hybrids like the GroVia hybrid. If you go with prefolds, get Diaper Service Quality (DSQ), such as OsoCozy brand, Cloth-Eez from Green Mountain Diapers, Imagine Organics, Dandelion Diapers, Blueberry, and Kawaii. The OsoCozy Better Fit diaper is shorter and designed to be folded into thirds and placed into a cover without using a Snappi. The OsoCozy prefolds that DON’T say Better Fit are longer and designed to be folded on baby and secured with a Snappi or diaper pins. The Green Mountain Diapers Cloth-Eez prefolds can either be used as a trifold inside a cover or Snappied onto a baby — it’s your choice. Use any kind of cover you’d like with your prefold. I like the Thirsties brand, but Blueberry Coveralls , Blueberry Capris, or Bummis Whisper Wraps work great too. You can also use wool covers, which are my personal favorite. More on wool later.
The more diapers you have, the longer they will last.
Change the diaper as soon as it is soiled or wet (at least every 2 hours).

Other useful accessories ( is your friend):

  • 40-50 cloth wipes (just toss them in the wet bag and wash with your diapers) — use water as your wipe solution
  • 1 GroVia Magic Stick, GroVia Z Stick, or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm — a cloth-diaper safe way of treating and preventing diaper rash
  • 2 hanging wet bags (KangaCare) or diaper pail liners (PlanetWise)
  • 2 smaller wet bags for your diaper bag (Bummis, PlanetWise, GroVia)
  • 4-6 doublers for naps and nighttime (the OsoCozy Better Fit infant prefolds work great as doublers, and I also love the BabyKicks Joey Bunz hemp doublers)
  • 3 Snappis if you’re using prefolds
  • BumGenius Diaper Sprayer for the toilet (use only when your baby is no longer exclusively breastfed)
  • Spray Pal  — a cloth diaper sprayer splatter shield. I found mine on Amazon.
  • Dry diaper pail with a lid (optional) — a standard kitchen garbage can works great
  • Drying rack for outside (optional); Here’s a great one I found on Amazon.
  • Washable Chux Pads! — If you’re co-sleeping or nursing your newborn baby in bed at night, do yourself a huge favor and buy washable chux pads to put under the baby. I use the Champion size medium with a flannel receiving blanket on top. Who wants to change pee-soaked sheets in the middle of the night? No one.

How Do I Fold Prefold Diapers?

  1. Here’s My Favorite YouTube Prefold Diapering Tutorial.
  2. Here’s My Other Favorite YouTube Prefold Diapering Tutorial.

How to Clean Your Diapers:

Prewash all new natural fiber diapers to remove plant oils and to make your diapers quilted and absorbant (not necessary for covers or microfiber, though you should wash microfiber once before using it):

  1. Hot wash with 1/2 amount of detergent, tumble dry
  2. Do this 5-7 times

Washing Instructions for Hard Water (85% of households have hard water):

  1. How can you tell if you have hard water? You can buy a hard water test kit and see for yourself.
  2. Shake the poop into the toilet
  3. Cold, warm, or hot short prewash with a small amount of soap
  4. Hot, heavy duty, long wash with enough detergent for a soiled load; 1 capful Calgon or another kind of water softener like Arm & Hammer washing soda or White King; no extra rinse

Washing Instructions for Soft Water:

  1. Shake the poop out into the toilet and use a diaper sprayer to dislodge any large bits (do nothing with the breastfed poop – those diapers can go straight into the washer)
  2. Cold, warm, or hot short prewash without soap — this gets rids of the pee and poop so the main cycle actually gets your diapers clean
  3. Hot, heavy duty, long wash with detergent enough detergent for a soiled load, and extra rinse

Drying Instructions:

  • Dry natural fiber diapers in the dryer
  • Hang dry all covers — drying them too much in the dryer removes their waterproofing
  • It’s useful to pick non-white covers so you don’t accidentally toss them in the dryer with your “white” prefolds
  • To remove stains, you can sun bleach diapers and covers by hanging dry outside for a few hours

Notes on Washing Diapers:

  • Fill your washer 1/2 to 2/3 full. You can tell how full your washer is by looking in right when you’ve placed the diapers inside. If you don’t have enough diapers to fill the machine at least 1/2 full, consider waiting another day or add dirty towels to your load to get to 1/2 full. You need to have enough diapers in there to rub against each other for agitation to get clean.
  • Any kind of washing machine is just fine
  • Any kind of detergent is fine, but don’t use any that has fabric softener in it (like Tide with Downey)
  • Don’t use Dreft or Ivory Snow

About Stinky Diapers:

  • Microfiber is more absorbent than natural fibers, but it has a tendency to stink and develop repellency issues. It’s easier to clean microfiber if you have a top-loading washer, because microfiber likes to be immersed in water to get clean.
  • If a diaper stinks when you take it out of the washer, it’s not clean and you need to use more soap.
  • If it smells clean when it comes out of the washer but stinks immediately when the baby pees on it, it has ammonia build-up. You need to tweak your wash routine. Consider stripping your diapers with bleach to remove the ammonia. Consider joining The Cloth Diaper Asylum on Facebook. They are very knowledgeable and will help you troubleshoot your wash routine.

Stripping Protocol:

  • We strip diapers to remove ammonia stink, yeast, bacteria, or residue from ointments or soap. We also strip any used diapers we’ve just purchased or obtained.
  • Make sure your diapers are CLEAN before you strip them
  • Use COLD water for the stripping protocol, and don’t use detergent
  • Amount of bleach to add:
    • If you have an old fashioned top loader, add 1/3 c. to a small load, 1/2 c. to a medium load, or 3/4 c. to a large load
    • If you have an HE top loader, add 1/4 c. to a small load, 1/3 c. to a medium load, or 1/2 c. to a large load
    • If you have an HE front loader, use either your bathtub, sink or a bucket to soak the diapers in. Add the bleach to the water and mix it well BEFORE you add the diapers.
      • Use 1/4 cup for a 1/4 tub full of water
      • Use 1/2 cup for a 1/2 tub of water
      • Use 3/4 cup for a tub that’s near full.
      • For a smaller vessel, 1 TBSP per gallon of water
  • Let the diapers soak in the bleach/water solution for at least 30 minutes
  • If the diapers are in the washing machine, you can turn off the washer to let the diapers soak, and then turn the washer back on to let the machine finish its cleaning cycle.
  • If the diapers are in something other than the washer, wring them out and transfer them to the washer. Let them run through a cold wash without soap.
  • You can run the diapers through another wash in hot water, detergent and an extra rinse to get rid of the bleach smell
  • Anything except animal fibers like wool and silk can be bleached.
  • See The Cloth Diaper Asylum for more information on the proper way to strip diapers

Here’s a Great Article About Diaper Rash from eBay.

Nighttime Diapering Notes:

  • You need to create a diaper combo that can stay on your baby for up to 12 hours without leaking or causing discomfort to baby
  • BumGenius 4.0 and Fuzzibunz Elite One Size are two great pocket diaper brands to use for nighttime.
    • Stuff your pocket diapers with the toddler microfleece doubler that comes with the pocket diaper and a doubler layered behind it (Joey Bunz by Baby Kicks is the one I use, but you can also use a newborn prefold diaper folded in thirds or half and placed behind the microfiber insert).
  • You can also use a prefold with one or two doublers added and a microfleece insert over the top to keep baby feeling dry all night
  • If you have a super duper wetter, use a fitted diaper like SootheBaby with a wool, fleece, or Thirsties cover
  • Make sure the diaper fits well around the legs and the waist. That makes most diapers bulletproof for 12 hours

On Wool:
Wool is easy to use. It’s breathable, antibacterial, natural, absorbs 30 times its weight in moisture, and doesn’t retain odor.
My favorite wool diaper cover brand names are: Imse Vimse, Babee Greens, Disana, Woolly Bottoms, and Sloomb (Babee Greens is my absolute favorite!). You can also go to Etsy and look up upcycled wool covers for adorable custom covers.
Wool is great for diapering at night as well as during the day.
It only needs to be washed about once a month in wool shampoo (Imse Vimse or Eucalan) or when it’s dirty.
Lanolinizing it keeps it waterproof. For instructions on how to lanolinize and wash wool, Green Mountain Diapers has great instructions.
Here’s a great blog article on diapering with wool.

Places to buy new diapers:

Great places to buy previously owned diapers:

•  Sweet Pea Children’s Boutique (Cotati, CA)
•  Diaper Swappers
•  Craigslist
•  Ebay

P.S. (I’m not receiving any kickbacks or bonuses for recommending any of these products or companies. I just happen to like them and want to pass on my experience to you. Cheers!)


Necessity is the Mother of Invention

This morning, Emily was not so keen to nap. This is usually my window for taking a shower and getting ready for work. I couldn’t have her crawling all over the house while I was showering, and I couldn’t skip the shower. So, I popped her into the laundry basket with some toys and played peek-a-boo with her behind the shower curtain. Definitely a win-win situation for both of us.Emily in a Basket

My 10 Favorite Reasons for Wearing My Baby

10. Emily looks very fashionable on me.
9. People get really, really, really happy when they see her on me.
8. Emily can interact (i.e., flirt) with people at eye level instead of craning her neck up to see them. It’s a more equal distribution of power.
7. My hands are free to do something besides push a stroller.
6. It’s easy to get her in and out of the car and I don’t have a huge stroller to fold up and lift into the trunk.
5. It’s safer to have her attached and close to me than riding in a stroller.
4. Emily loves being worn. She goes into calm observation mode and watches the world from a place of peaceful contentedness.
3. I can get stuff done with her on me (i.e., vacuuming, laundry, dishes, cleaning) that I can’t otherwise do because she’s crawling all over the house and needing constant supervision.
2. It’s very easy to walk while wearing her and I have high maneuverability.
And then my #1 reason:
1. I can smell and kiss the top of her head All.The.Time. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than this.