Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flats Challenge Day 3 - For the Love of Flats!

For those of you who somehow missed it, I am participating in the 2nd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  If you want details click the link, but basically everyone who is participating (almost 500 households) agrees to use flat diapers that are then handwashed and air dried for a week.  Each day those of us with blogs try to talk about the same topic so that we can all share our ideas and learn from each other.  The topic for Day 3 is "How do you use your flats?".

Being me, I assumed that this question was asking what your favorite folds are which I briefly touched on in my last post (origami for T and pad fold for A).  However, when I started looking around I saw that this post could be a lot more broad.  The topic isn't just flats this week, but flats in general.  That is a topic I can really get behind (please pardon the pun).

Tired boy models the origami fold.
While flats may not be me normal "go to" diaper, they do see a lot of use in our house.  How hard our water is seems to change a couple of times a year and when that happens I have to adjust my washing routine for my diapers.  While I'm figuring out what's wrong I switch over to flats because they are the easiest to get clean and the fastest to get dry.  If I can get any diaper clean and dry quickly it will be flats.  My cotton prefolds are next on the list (and my general favorite), but they are still harder to wash and slower to dry than the flats.  I also love flats for when my baby is in between sizes of diapers.  When the infant prefolds were just a touch too small and the next size up was still rather giant, flats fill the gap.  When A became a supersoaker and was leaking out of her diaper at night a folded up flat provided the extra absorbency we needed to save the sheets.  Flats are also really breathable so when we have had problems with diaper rash a flat with a wool cover gave our kids the air their bums needed to heal.
A much younger A sporting a flat and shorties during last
year's challenge. We use the same set-up for rashes.
However, the place we use flats most often is as a backup against running out.  A despises disposables and refuses to wear them.  Now that she is verbal she claims that they hurt, especially when she pees.  Because of this we can't really plan to buy disposables if we run out of diapers due to lack of planning.  We keep a few flats and two one-size covers in the car in case we run out while running errands or visiting friends and we keep a stack of flats in the house in case we get behind on laundry.  We try not to need these back-ups, but when we need them it is nice to know we have them.  I especially love that I don't have to worry about leaving A in a wet diaper if she uses her last one when we are at a friend's house or carrying a half naked T in to the laundry room because I didn't realize until it was too late that I hadn't pulled the diapers out of the dryer yet.

A still loves her flats, this time in her training
How about you?  Do you use flats in every day life?  If so, how?  Click here to read everyone else's answers.

Flats Challenge Day 2 - What Am I Using?

As I said yesterday, I am participating in the 2nd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  Basically everyone agrees to use flat cloth diapers and then to handwash and air dry them for a week.  If you want to hear more about the challenge follow the link above.  As part of the challenge anyone who has a blog is encouraged to discuss a variety of topics in an effort to get the information out where anyone can see it and make it easier for us all to help each other.  The hope is that if one person is having problems they will be able to blog surf a bit and find a place where someone else has posted a solution.  These posts are also nice to refer back to later on if you wind up in a situation where you are having to start from scratch or run into a problem.  All that being said, today's (well, really yesterday's, but I'm running behind) topic is "supplies" so I'll blather on about mine :)

Since I did the challenge last year and cloth diaper normally I already had everything I needed.  Well, actually, I have WAY more than I really need :)  That said, I'll do my best to lay out exactly what I'm actually using this year in hopes that it will help someone else who is buying a stash for the first time.  The supplies really fall into two categories, diapers and washing supplies.  Since I have two kids that are very different ages I'll lay out what I'm using for each.
The diapers and wipes are folded and ready to go.
T. is 9 months old and is still very much in the traditional diaper phase.  For him I am using the Ikea "burp cloths" that I bought last year for the challenge.  I have 24 of these, but am not coming close to using all of them.  I think if I had to do it again I would only buy 15-18 of these and I know that in a pinch I could get away with 12.  I am using the origami fold with these and securing them with a snappi and then putting a waterproof cover over them.  I use onesize covers and both he and A are currently in the same size so I have WAY more covers than I need.  I think I could get by pretty reasonably with 4-5 covers and have managed with 3 in a pinch.  The brands we like are Thirsties Duo, Bummis Super Bright and Blueberry covers, but both of my kids are long and skinny so we really need that double gusset.  We are also using cloth wipes from Green Mountain Diaper and with two kids and washing daily we'd probably be okay with 24 wipes.  That's it, diapers, wipes, covers and a snappi...pretty simple really.  I also use some fleece liners, but this is just microfleece that I found on clearance and cut to size, nothing special and $4 worth of fleece got me more liners than I can ever use.

The flat on the left is folded to the same size as the original
insert on the right.

When it came to figuring out diapers for A. I was a little more worried.  She is 2.5 years old, very active and in the process of potty training.  She still needs something when we are out and about or when she's sleeping, but whatever she's wearing has to be easy to pull up and down in case she suddenly realizes she needs to go.  We'd been using the Flip Trainers which are nice because they have a wipe-clean reusable shell and a bunch of cotton inserts so you can get away with fewer pairs.  The insert is held in place with velcro which my active toddler really needs to keep everything from shifting.  I tried pad folding the Ikea flats we are using for T, but they kept bunching.  I tried the Flour Sack Towels I got from Target last year and had the same problem.  Then I remembered the Gerber Flats that I'd been given at my baby shower before A was born.  They are small, overpriced and not terribly absorbent, but they also have a looser weave than anything else I had.  I pad folded one to the same size as the insert and gave it a try and sure enough it worked!  The weave is loose enough that they stick and the lack of absorbency doesn't matter so much when it is just meant as a back-up.  I will say that we have had one leak when A. wet her bed this morning, but as she normally wakes up dry I am going to consider that a fluke.  We actually started using this system over the weekend and last night was the only time we've had a problem with it.  We are using two of the Flip shells and going through about 3 Gerber Flats per day.  Since the Gerber flats come in packs of 10 (I think) you should be plenty fine with just the one pack.

A wanted to help with the washing.

The final category is washing supplies.  For this I'm keeping stuff pretty simple.  I throw the dirty diapers directly into a 5 gallon bucket that has a lid (I dump any poop into the toilet first, but a quick shake of the fleece liner and it comes right off).  Once the bucket is half full I switch it out for a new bucket (I have two and they are worth every penny) and start the diapers in the old bucket soaking.  I use a cheap plunger with holes drilled in it for agitation, Charlie's Soap and Oxiclean for washing and a clothesline in the backyard for drying.  I'll go into details in another post, but this set-up when combined with the hot and windy weather we've been having has made it a lot easier than I remembered.  I think the secret is the second bucket because it means that I'm not under any pressure to finish the wash cycle before I can change the next diaper.

Here is a short list for a toddler and a baby for those that just want to skim:
18-24 Ikea "burp cloths"
1 pack Gerber Flats
4-6 PUL covers
2 Flip Trainer Shells
24 GMD wipes
24 homemade fleece liners
2 5-gallon buckets
1 plunger with holes in it
clothes line
medium wetbag for when you out and about, though a plastic grocery bag will work if needed.

That's it.  Really, that's all I'm using to diaper 2 kids and the crazy thing is that those supplies would last me for both kids from birth to potty training if they had to.  If you want to see what everyone else is using head over to the main page for Day 2.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's That Time Again!!!

Time for what you ask?  The 2nd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge is happening this week and I've decided to attempt it.  I did it last year and we managed to finish despite a daytrip and a stomach bug that ran through the family that week.  Last year I learned that handwashing really wasn't that bad.  I even learned that since I live in a warm, dry place with hard water I am able to get cleaner diapers faster when I handwash them and dry them outside in the sun.  All in all I considered it a success and while I wasn't about to sell my washing machine I knew that I could use flats and handwash them if I ever needed to.  This was especially reassuring because my daughter A. refuses to to use disposable diapers because she claims that they hurt (or did the last time we tried one on her over a year ago).

Now I bet you are asking yourself if everything went so well last year then why am I even hesitating this year?  Why am I saying that I am "attempting" the challenge instead of assuming that I'm going to do this no problem?  Well, there are a couple of things going on.  First of all, last year I only had one baby in diapers and that baby was a toddler who really didn't use that many diapers.  This year I have a not quite potty trained toddler and a baby who goes through a lot of diapers.  The second reason is that we have plans for family fun  during the challenge and having to take the time to handwash diapers would get in the way.  The third reason is that while A is getting pretty good at using the potty, she still needs training pants and I couldn't figure out how to make that work with flats and didn't terribly want to handwash those.  The bottom line is that I've gotten lazy.  Yup, that's right, I said it, I'm worried that I'm too lazy to complete the challenge this year...
Who can argue with these cute diapers for a baby boy?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that this is exactly why I need to try it.  So many women don't get the chance to be lazy and I just need to suck it up and deal.  I complain that it's a pain to wash diapers when all I have to do is throw them in the washing machine and push a few buttons.  I complain that it is a pain to go to the grocery store with both kids when I can load them in the car and drive.  I need to stop complaining!  I don't know if I will manage to complete the challenge or not this year, but I do hope I will remind myself of how lucky I am and stop complaining so much.  I am hoping that by doing so I will be a better wife and mother.  Wish me luck, I think I'm going to need it.

Turns out the overpriced Gerber flats work just fine as inserts
in her normal training pants.
If you want to learn more you can explore some of the links below or click here for the main post and to link up yourself.