Pin the Spotlight
Beyond the Forums
Many of our forum members have been cloth diapering for years and and their knowledge is invaluable to the cloth diapering community. This week, join Erin as she interviews long time Diaper Pin forum member Samantha.
Samantha is a SAHM/WAHM with 4 boys ages 12 years to 12 months. Suddenly a single parent she recently relocated to the midwest from Alaska. She has a lab who is also a boy. Her family has been going greener since 2008 and aspires to have a fully self sustaining lifestyle.
I understand you owned a cloth diaper shop at one time. What was your favorite part of running that business?
I loved rolling in all the fluff when we’d get our shipments. It was like Christmas everyday and we always got to see the newest items and try them out. It’s also very satisfying to help a family start on their cloth diapering journey. Since we use cloth ourselves we were able to really give people an idea of the options available and show them how things work on a real baby. It can be so daunting while researching cloth diapers and I think many parents feel defeated before they even begin, so it makes me feel good to think of the families that I’ve helped over that hurdle.
So you’ve probably tried many diapering systems-which is your favorite and why?
With two in diapers we use a couple different systems to meet our different needs. I love natural fibers and the bulk of our diapers is bamboo, either velour or fleece. Goodmamas make up most of our stash, but I’m not sure that they’re our favorites. I find that I often go back to our bamboo pre-folds and flats and that the simplicity of them just makes them a perfect diaper. I may not use them every day, but they’re the most reliable for us. I know they’ll wash well and I know I’ll always get a good fit. When my other diapers make me frustrated my flats and pre-folds perk their heads up saying “we knew you’d be back.”
Can you give some advice on how new parents (or those new to cloth diapers) can choose the right diaper for their baby?
Don’t marry the idea of any one system before you allow yourself to try a few options. I’ve seen far too many people decide on one system buy a whole stash and then two weeks in realize there is a fatal flaw that doesn’t work for them. Thankfully cloth diapers have a resell value. Read reviews by other parents like the ones on the pin. Scope out forums and find people who will show you their systems on their child and give you a true idea of what using certain diapers is like. And if at all possible see them in real life. It makes a huge difference to be able to compare various systems side by side. If you don’t have a local cloth diapering store shop with an online retailer that offers a trial period, variety packs, or has a good exchange policy. Cloth diapering isn’t an all or nothing proposition and just as your child grows and changes so can your diapering needs and you need to be flexible while discovering what works for your family.
Did you cloth diaper all your boys?
I sometimes get a little sad thinking about all the years of fluffy goodness I missed out on because we didn’t discover cloth until I had my third. I was really young when I had my oldest and just didn’t know what I know now. Having that experience I’ve made a point to try and show young moms that they have other options. When we had our store we were actively involved in working with teen moms to show them natural parenting choices.
Tell us about how your wash routine changed moving from Alaska to Nebraska.
The water in Anchorage is perfect. It comes from Eklutna lake and requires minimal processing to make it to the tap. Washing diapers was easy and while I knew laundry routines provided a source of frustration for many families I didn’t have a full understanding of why. Then I moved. Our first month here we stayed with my aunt who had a front loader and I learned to fight the not enough water in an HE machine battle. I was never as happy as when my household goods arrived and I had a top loader again. But I was quickly introduced to hard water. It was flaring up skin issues for the kids and myself, so I only imagine what it does to my diapers. I’ve had to switch to a hard water formula of our detergent and increase the amount we use. I rinse more than before and there’s a whole process to my routine now. It’s not enough to just wash my diapers; certain cycles have bleach, calgon, or borax and then I have to strip my diapers regularly. In several years in Alaska I only striped a couple times and here it’s a regular part of maintenance. It’s made me appreciate my natural fibers a lot more.
What has been your biggest challenge with cloth diapering and how have you dealt with it?
My 3 year old is prone to yeast. He’d still have the problem in disposable diapers, but I think using cloth added its own spin on the matter. Including a small amount of bleach to our diaper routine has helped keep it out of the diapers and from spreading to our 1 year old. He gets soda baths and since including kefir into his daily diet we’ve dramatically cut down on his occurrences. When he needs a topical treatment we’ve had to use liners to help protect the diapers from buildup.
What is your favorite benefit to using cloth?
I love that I’m not adding to the landfills and cloth diapering was a gateway to a plethora of other green choices. We have a paper free home and it’s such a good feeling to know our trash output is so minimal. But the convenience of it is probably the greatest benefit. I can use the same diapers on my 3 year old and 1 year old, which would never happen with disposables. I never have to worry about running out of diapers and having to dash down to the store. The cute factor helps too.
What led to your decision to choose cloth diapers?
In 2006 I was a surrogate and the parents used cloth on the baby. I was so intrigued by the idea. Up till that point the thought of cloth diapers had never crossed my mind. In 2008 we became pregnant with our third and I started doing the research and knew I wanted to choose cloth. We used disposables the first couple weeks and I was doing the math. By the time he was 6 weeks old we had spent $90 on diapers and that wasn’t including the diapers we’d been given or the ones we used from the hospital and I just didn’t want to think of how much more we were going to be spending. I ordered my first box of fluff and never looked back.
What other reusable products do you use in your home?
We use family cloth in the bathroom and kitchen cloth in the kitchen, as well as cloth napkins and handkerchiefs. I use a cup and cloth menstrual pads. The pads on our Swiffer are reusable too. And we do not use paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. We have a paper free home and it’s so freeing. Not to mention that we aren’t throwing money away each month.
For crafty mamas like you, what are some DIY projects related to cloth diapering?
The cloth diapering community is so great about sharing knowledge and experiences and craftiness. The Katrina’s Longies and Soaker patterns are free and easy, making for an affordable way to make fleece items or recycle sweaters to build a wool stash. Another readliy available pattern with lots of options is the Rita’s Rump Pockets pattern. It’s great for a novice sewer and helps you to understand the basics of a diaper. With cloth diapering growing in popularity you can now find diaper making supplies at popular fabrics and craft stores. It’s even funner to use cloth when you can say “I made that too.”
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