Sunday, August 3, 2014

Diaper Drama

About a month ago--shortly after Zuzu turned 2--I gave up on cloth diapers.

Don't get me wrong--I loved using them for the past two years. Well, loved may be too strong of a word, considering what they were used for, but seriously, cloth diapers worked really well for us. Yes, it meant more laundry, but I would totally do it again (in fact, I hope to be doing it again very soon with Rerun).

The problem was that since Zuzu has gotten older, her, um, projects, arrive in her pants with less frequency and more volume.

They are also super effing gross. (Especially since she loves fruit so damn much--let's be real: I haven't seen a solid turd in months. She is possibly the least constipated child on earth who doesn't have some kind of terrible water-born parasite. Not that I'm saying she has diarrhea [OH MY WORD I just wrote that--I'm sorry--I understand if you are totally done reading this blog now and forever] It's more like the consistency of hummus [Okay, now you're done, right?]).

ANYWAY, it just got to the point where our trusty cloth diapers required a hemp insert for regular use (previously we only needed it at night) or we were getting leaks. Mama does not deal super well with leaks.

And probably being pregnant also had something to do with a lower tolerance for the super disgustingness, especially when we'd bring home a bag of dirty diapers from daycare. There was always one (or two!) poopy ones that I then had to deal with (since I'm the one who picks her up and also the one who does the laundry). So I would have to try not to gag while spraying old, cold, hummus-textured poop out of her diaper(s) and then taking the whole stinking bag down to the laundry, while David enjoyed the non-poop-smell of his office hours and commute home.

When leaking overnight became a nearly every-day thing, that was another deal breaker. Changing the crib sheet is a total pain in the ass anyway, but struggling to do it with an enormous baby bump made it virtually impossible, and also I hated the idea of her sleeping on pee-soaked sheets for part of the night.

Let's also remember that I had NEVER planned to have two babies in cloth diapers. I think if I were a SAHM mom whose laundry hours weren't limited to the evenings, I might consider it. But even with a semester-long maternity leave, I'm just not tackling it.

In order to get Zuzu's diapers cleaned to my satisfaction, I run them through the washer three times:

(1) quick wash on cold with just a pinch of detergent
(2) hot wash, extra long, regular scoop of detergent (we still use Charlie's Soap for everything and subscribe to regular deliveries of it through Amazon)
(3) warm wash, no detergent to ensure thorough rinse

That process takes a while (a little more than two hours, total), especially because I have to go down to the basement to start each cycle. So if I forget to set a timer on my phone or don't think about it, the 2 plus hours stretches out to several hours and we end up with a load of diapers that doesn't get put in the dryer before we're ready for bed. If they finish the last cycle and sit in the washer wet overnight, then I want to give them another hot rinse before drying them, which stretches out the cycle even longer. And that's super annoying.

Of course, having to wash diapers at home is obviously an inconvenience no matter what, but for me personally, it was worth it. I have NO REGRETS about cloth diapering for two years. I'm actually really, really glad we did it. I still hate thinking about the environmental impact of disposable diapers (although I do realize there is an environmental impact to extra loads of laundry). Once the initial stink was dealt with, it's not like it's hard to punch a few buttons on the washing machine. So it wasn't until the disgustingness factor got amped up and the leakiness became an issue that I decided I just couldn't deal.

(Very) long story short: I finally declared that we were DONE with cloth diapers.

(There might have been a little more rage, angst, and dramatic dumping of all cloth diapers out of her dresser drawer, but you get the idea).

My plan now is to have them professionally cleaned by a diaper service and then re-use them all for Rerun as soon as his/her little thighs chunk up enough to fit in the one-size diapers. I need to schedule that deep-cleaning soon, come to think of it! We have never had issues with ongoing stink, but we have had some staining--mostly because I've been too lazy to dry the diapers out in the sun. So we'll get a nice fresh start with Rerun. As I recall, we have a little bit of time. I think Zuzu was about 7 or 8 weeks old before her legs were chunky enough to switch from the teensy newborn disposables to cloth diapers.

While I wish we could say that Zuzu made a seamless transition from cloth diapers to BIG GIRL PANTIES, alas, that is not the case. We tried pull-ups and she seemed really excited about Minnie Mouse on her undies but not excited enough to not piss all over Minnie (literally).

So I decided to forget about that nonsense of "big girl panties" that I still had to change like a diaper and now we're back to Seventh Generation diapers (They are ugly and brown! They may be filled with mulch!). Also: EXPENSIVE! Damn. I'm remembering why I wanted to cloth diaper to begin with. It's like pissing away money (literally and figuratively) while also clogging up landfills. Makes me itchy on both levels.

And yet, I'm still buying them.

Honestly, I worry a little that we're taking steps backward in potty training since cloth diapers are supposed to help kiddos potty train faster. But since potty-training has been half-assed at best around here, I'm trying to cut myself some slack and just work with what we've got going now.

There was a time when I thought we might do the 3-day intensive potty training that people talk about, but the truth is that I haven't had the energy for it. I would get SO annoyed about "false alarms" when she'd say she had to pee-pee on the potty but really just wanted to mess around on the potty and then run through the house with her pants off. With Rerun being breech for so long, I have been much more physically uncomfortable during this pregnancy than my first two, and bending over to wrestle a two-year-old in and out of pull-ups or training pants or whatever was just beyond what I was willing to endure.

Not to mention the fact, that her interest has been, let's say, limited and at times she seems genuinely confused by the fact that she just peed herself (see the "run through the house with her pants off" moments above), so maybe we're just not quite ready.

Confession: I wanted to have her potty-trained by the time she was two and I wanted to feel very smug about it. So far, our potty-training experience has been an ENORMOUS readjustment of my own parenting expectations. Oh, Zuzu. She likes to keep us guessing.

And, really, that's fine. We've been dealing with some other transitions here: gently weaning from the binky, trying to cope with crib-climbing, realizing that we are SO NOT READY for a toddler bed, figuring out how to deal with a child who naps beautifully at daycare and does not nap consistently at home, fighting bedtime...

Remember, we're keeping her in her room and her crib even after the baby gets here. Part of my plan for an easy adjustment to new sibling! I wasn't planning on dealing with ANY of this sleep/nap/bed/binky stuff until after Rerun was here and we'd figured out that transition.

(NEWSFLASH: Parenting is actually "Realizing that your kid doesn't care about what you had planned, making up shit as you go along, and frantically googling it to see if someone out there who doesn't seem totally insane might also agree with your strategies").

I ordered a few cloth training pants and old-school plastic training pants covers from Amazon, but I just haven't had the energy or enthusiasm to seriously tackle potty-training yet. For now, my plan is to chill out until we've all made the new-baby adjustment, and then see where we are.

In the meantime, we'll talk about how awesome it is to pee on the potty and see if she decides to do it. We still have her sit on the potty when we do diaper changes at home (always too late--always!) and first thing in the morning and right before bed. We'll keep up this routine and maybe one of these days something will click?

The random and incredibly infrequent pee-pees that have happened in the potty get much praise and celebration; however, our Zuzu is many wonderful things, but she is not much of a people-pleaser. Whether we praise her for peeing or screech at her for putting herself in harm's way, she pretty much does what SHE wants to do.

Here's hoping that pretty soon SHE wants to pee on the potty as much as we want her to.

Alternatively, I suppose I could start teaching her how to do the laundry...


  1. I found bribing to work fairly well. Finn loves those Annie's gummy bunnies so they were his "special treat" if he went potty. I would give him one or two and also give him some as reward if he told us ahead of time he needed to go - so a bribe and a reenforcement for good behavior. Not to say we didn't still have many accidents. Also, letting him watch a video was good insentive since a short YouTube train video or whatever is also a special treat.

    I've wanted to get either 7th generation or honest diapers, but wonder what is it that makes them more environmentally friendly than target brand? Like I wonder what they are made of that is better or how they are more biodegradeable --- any insight?

  2. Not that you have time, but our sleep doula (!) recommended "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight Book: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy". It covers birth through age 5 for both overnight sleep and naps, and it has been really helpful.

    As for the cloth, I really only use them for daycare these days, although not sure why there. I was using them during daytime all the time, but when Asher caught a virus around Christmas (5 days of diarrhea) and the the Norovirus, I couldn't deal. I should pull them back out, though. I really just need one more wet bag and I could make it work. I'm so out of the wash habit that sometimes I won't remember Thursday's dirty dipes until Sunday or Monday. Eek!

  3. @Caroline - I don't think there actually is any difference when it comes to after-the-fact landfill stuff. (Although the Seventh Generation diapers sort of feel like they are full of mulch--gross!). I think most of the difference is in processing ahead of time--unbleached, no harsh chemicals, no use of chlorine, hypoallergenic--that kind of thing. Honest Company says they have Plant-Based inner and outer layers and the filling is sustainably harvested pulp. Seventh Generation just says it's fragrance-free and chlorine-free.

    I'm liking the ugly brown SG ones because I want to reward Zuzu with pretty colored Big Girl Panties one of these days. You know, when she starts caring...

  4. I cloth diapered for a year and a half. When my fourth was born 6 months ago I just couldn't do it with 4 kids so close in age...I lasted a week! I sold all my BumGenius, FuzziBunz etc and haven't looked back. I loved it while I did it and it did save us money that year and a half, but with 2 in diapers again disposables are easier.

    For Caroline, we buy Seventh Generation when they are on sale, but many diaper websites cite Target as best bang for the buck because they are chlorine free etc. And so much cheaper than Earth's Best or Seventh Generation. Because we have a 27 month old and a 6 month old that is a lot of diapers and wipes! We have used Honest Co but recently they are under fire for not being as "green" as they should be and I found they weren't worth the high price (even though I love the prints!) We do stick with California Baby, Baby Ganics, etc for baby products or whatever is organic and on sale.


  5. I found running around naked to be the best way to potty train (the kid running around naked, not me). No putting on and off of pull ups or whatever, and they immediately know when they are peeing (or pooping). I did the majority of the training in the backyard with a little portable kid potty. If they peed in the grass, no problem, and no need to run inside and probably not make it.

  6. My daughter was 2.5 before I tackled potty training. It literally took weeks and I literally sat on bathroom floor for hours it felt like because we were constantly in there to help her get the cause and effect of the whole situation. Ultimately bribery worked...small toys she cared about. I tried m&Ms which should have been a huge treat but really didn't affect her as I had hoped. Also she was potty trained prior to sisters birth but then she regressed once sister arrived (around 6 weeks). We skipped pull ups but otherwise I just winged it? I don't know, just glad it is behind us...way more difficult in my opinion then a lot of parenting obstacles and I am so glad we tackled it after two. Imo I would wait till after rerun is here and you have all adjusted.

    Love your posts by the way!

  7. I just assume you're kidding about the potty-trained-by-two idea... Talk about nobody having time for that! I was smug that my girl was very interested of her own volition in potty training before two, but it was still a solid six months - 2.5 - before I called her "potty trained". And then we moved, regression, recovery, etc, and I think we're good again but she's still sleeping in pull ups because I can't deal with her sleeping in a wet bed OR changing said bed in the middle of the night.

    My older two weren't trained until 3+ y/o. So my youngest training by 2.5 probably had very little to do with my parenting prowess. VERY little.

    And while *quite* pregnant? You totally get a pass. Totally. Kick back, look forward to finding a new rhythm with two kiddos.

    Also - I used gDiapers for quite awhile with my daughter. I really liked having the disposable / theoretically flushable insert, and also having cloth inserts, though I ended up using prefolds folded into their little plastic snap-in deals more often than their own fleecey inserts. You can even compost the disposable inserts if you're really brave and into that kind of thing.

    @AmyL - thanks for the book recommendation!! While interested in potty training, this child is no interested in sleeping.

  8. Luke just potty trained himself practically overnight at 3. I literally just told him we were out of diapers so he had to start using the potty again. He refused to wear underwear at first so he went commando under shorts a few days then I got him boxer briefs and convinced him to wear them. No timers or constant reminders or boot camp required. (Or poop issues- when I worked in daycare we had a few kids who ended up with serious constipation and medical issues from withholding poop BC they were afraid to go in the potty.) Definitely wish I had not stressed about it so much in hindsight.
    We like target diapers and Costco diapers. I started with earths best and 7g (ha cloth diapering) when Luke was a baby but no thank you now. Too dang $$$$. And basement laundry and cloth diapering is a no go for me--maybe if we have another baby and move and have main floor laundry I would consider it. I have a huge cloth stash from Luke still.

  9. You should try Clouds & Stars zipper sheets, save yourself the fight with changing crib sheets! They are awesome!

  10. My son always leaked at night, so I would put down a waterproof pad, sheet, waterproof pad and sheet on top. That way at night, all I had to do was pull off the wet sheet and pad and voila! dry sheet underneath ready to go. Also had to go cold turkey with cloth training pants and plastic covers for training my daughter. She didn't care if pullups got wet.

  11. Oh dear. Potty training is no fun. I didn't read the comments, but I bet everyone will say the same thing: No use training her now. It will likely just get screwed up as she adjusts to her new sibling. And give her time. She WILL figure it out, but on her own time.

    Also, I had two in diapers at the same time. Not much cloth, I'll admit that. But I can tell you that it's all such a blur. I don't even remember two diapered kids being an issue like I assumed it would be. Caroline will be out of diapers before you know it!

  12. Can someone just come over and potty tran Benjamin? Because he is not into bribing with anything. Just doesn't give a sh--! Ahhhh

  13. I have three kids. The ability to "potty train" a kid is a myth, in my opinion. They do it when ready. My ob said she spent six months "potty training" her first. Waited the six months on the second kid and wham! They did it themselves.

    Additionally, if you are going to breastfeed, that's the time Z will decide she needs to potty. Always. :)