Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Babies and Saving the Planet: Part Deux

Okidoki, after an intense migraine kiboshed my 'friend' yoga tonight, I thought I'd celebrate my somewhat recovery by providing a fantastic 'eco-diaper-baby' rundown. Yep, I am cool.

Even though I firmly believe that diaper choice will not 'make or break' my experience as a mother, I am so thankful that a) I had that 'no biggie' conversation with D. and b) I've started researching this pre-pregnancy. Cuz wow, this cloth diaper deal is pretty darn complicated. Think it's just about buying a couple of diapers made from organic cotton? Read on...

There are four basic different kinds of cloth diapers each with a zillion options:

1. All in One (or AIO) and All in Twos (AI2)
Basically a cloth version of a regular disposable diaper. There is a 'soaker' that's sewn into the diaper and they take longer to dry. All in Twos basically have a removable soaker-pad thingy that if your baby pees you can remove and still use the same diaper.

2. Pocket Diapers
These have little pockets that you can insert the 'soaker' of your choice into. Most of the time these don't require a cover. I don't think... Inserts can range from microfleece, bamboo to organic cotton. They're also supposed to dry better.

3. Fitted Diapers
These guys always require a cover and seem to be the popular choice. I think anyways, or maybe mom's just buy pocket diapers that require covers for some reason...
In any case, they are easy to make yourself from any cloth you might have lying around.

4. Prefolds
I don't really understand these- they are fabric with several layers depending on the sides. Apparently they are essential and have different types. (info from All About Cloth Diapers Review)

Another option to consider would be type of cloth- of course there are issues with bamboo and regular cotton takes quite a bit of pesticides... Check out this post on the different kinds of fabric for covers.

That being said, I'm pretty sure any fabric would be better than plastic... Which would be my suggestion, don't get caught up in the 'THIS fabric is the best for your baby and the environment' pitch. You're choosing cloth over plastic- that is something to celebrate all by itself :)

applecheeks cover- see the 'pocket'?
Now we need to chat about cleaning this things. Apparently, according to my mom who, after reading my post yesterday, informed me that I was cloth diapered when they used safety pins and rubber covers (sigh) and it was no.big.deal. Alright. 

Usually a bucket for the dirties with a washable cloth lining (two linings so that when you can wash the lining with the dirties and replace it with your spare). D. said she just washed everything with regular detergent in cold water. I've heard borax works very well on removing stains as well (borax also kills silverfish.. but more on magical borax later!). Hang to dry and voila! Clean diapers.

In this video, the mom has a bowl and cloth wipes at her change table. She just pours warm water into the bowl, dips the cloth wipes and cleans her baby. If you want a visual step-step explanation, this video is great.

I'm not going to discuss 'biodegradable' or 'compostable' diapers here, as they are filled with controversy as to whether they are a comparable choice... perhaps another eco-family post :)

What I think is interesting about the whole issue surrounding chemicals and babies is that we are so scared to death about germs. I've seen this in Andrew's mother, who cleans her cutting boards with rubber gloves and javax, and expects me to cut vegetables immediately after. As if I'd want to eat food that has been prepared on something treated with corrosive bleach.

Have you ever thought it would be alright to use a disposable wipe on your bottom? Not to overshare, but I don't even use soap, that area is so vulnerable and sensitive there is no way I put anything synthetic near it. Why would we assume that babies' bottoms are made of steel? Those wipes are full of synthetic fragrances and antibacterial chemicals. If I wouldn't use it on myself, there is no way I'd use it on a fragile baby.

Using harsh chemicals to clean up after babies at home is kinda a tricky situation. If you've ever spent time watching infants, they like to taste EVERYTHING. Trust me, each toy-object in my office got tasted. Including the table, chair legs, mats you name it. Using something like bleach to clean up icky vomit might sound tempting... but the chances are your child will probably lick that part of the floor again at some point.

If you require anti-bacterial peace of mind, tea tree oil is a great one (although I head pregnant women should stay away). Water+vinegar and a few drops of a tea tree and you're good to go. Another option would be to invest in some chemical-safe cleaners like Seventh Generation or Ecover. They will most certainly be milder and you can find them with no scent.

Here are some diaper companies in Canada:
Apple Cheeks (Made in Montreal)
Hankettes (Made in Vancouver BC)
Anne Marie Padorie (Made in Winnipeg Manitoba)

Banana Peels Diapers (store). Check out All About Cloth Diaper's post on her top ten sellers
Bottombumpers (Made in the USA)
Cotton Babies Flip (check out this review- no plastic!)
Weehuggers (made in USA)

Well that concludes the cloth diaper portion of EcoYogini... perhaps I'll still be blogging as a EcoYogini Mama in the (far) future... lol. Or perhaps not- I don't really type very well on little sleep!


article copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com


  1. I'll keep this bookmarked for when Baby Burnout makes his or her debut in a year or so. :) I've also read that you can buy flushable liners--like strong toilet paper, I guess. You just peel out the messy liner and flush it. Which, while still creating some waste, is a little more appealing than dunking the diaper in the toilet or something similar.

  2. Thanks for this!!! It will give me a good place to start when I get to the point where I am ready for that kind of research! :)

  3. I've been a cloth diaperer for the past three and a half years and have loved it (but fingers crossed that I'll be finished with all diapers in six months!) We've tried a little bit of everything, but if I had to do it all over again, I'd use mostly organic cotton prefolds (because they're super cheap and make good rags when you're done) and a few pocket diapers or all-in-ones. I wish I'd tried wool covers, but we went with the PUL wraps. The good thing about them is they last forever.

  4. Ive heard the same as vegan burnout - you can get rice paper linings, which go in the toilet afterwards and disintegrate away.

    That to me sounds like the best idea - you get rid of the worst of it and the rest isnt so bad to clean.

    I, like you, had cloth nappies (as we call them in the uk) - again with a safety pin, and it was no big deal.

    Another thing which has been taken over by corporates!


  5. Waht I have never understood, and this is something I just look on with wry amusement these days, is why everything has to be so complicated. OK so we're starting to realise that all the "easy" things we invented are harming the planet so we "invent" something "green", expensive and overly complex.

    Great Grandma Burton had 15 kids (not that I approve of that as an environmentally friendly thing to do of course!!) no disposable nappies, no new fangled nappies, just old fashioned cloth nappies and soap and water. Thirteen of the kids lived into their 70s. All of them were clean and didn't smell :)

    I'm not suggesting that we should go back to these harsh times, I think it's too late to go back anyway, but I think we should learn more from our foremothers than we seem to be willing too.

    I will ask Ma Yogini about how old fashioned nappies worked and what they used for leaks in the days before plastic pants!

  6. thanks for this - i like the bowl of water and cloth wipe idea!

  7. I'm glad this has been helpful! it sure has been more interesting than i thought diapers could be!
    I agree wholeheartedly though, it would seem it's a bit more complicated than it should be... which is most likely a result of what Rachel mentioned- us complicating stuff...

    The issue with the gdiapers (flushable inserts) is that most sewer systems don't accept them... if you're not supposed to flush a pad down the toilet, then you can imagine a flushable insert doesn't bode well either.

    I also am not a huge fan of the disposable idea, i really think we need to move away from our disposable lifestyle. that being said- we all do what we can and what works best for us :)

  8. I humbly submit my semi-eco-in-the-right-spirit-but-not-quite-there comment:

    I have a 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old. We attempted cloth diapers with our youngest. (Ones with inserts - nothing disposable, everything went in the wash.)

    Everything I read said to wash them in hot water. As I do all the rest of our laundry in cold water (saves on gas, etc.), we noticed a HUGE jump in our bill from the amount of washing we had to do...even when we hand-washed the not-so-icky ones.

    They really weren't any additional trouble (save for the few times we were out and had to carry them with us in a warm car!) and - on a shallow note - they were SO SO cute!!

    We did end up going back to disposable, mainly for the reason(s) I listed above. I hope other readers can forgive me, but now that she's almost potty-trained, we'll have to be comfortable with "what was".

    Just thought I'd add my (honest) two-cents in case there is anyone else out there feeling the eco-guilt! May we all find comfort in our own paths and continue to work towards saving each other (including our mother).

  9. Thank you for your thoughtful research on this topic. It has been so interesting for me to read your suggestions as well as what everyone else has to say. And now I have lots of bookmarks to look through, probably starting with the day that I see two lines on the stick...haha : )


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