Deciding to switch to cloth diapering

Have you thought about making the switch to cloth diapers but hesitated for one reason or another? Up until recently, so did I. But after a bit of learning and prep, on Sunday I put my baby in her first cloth diaper. It’s been a few days and I’m pretty happy about it so far.

Having used cloth diapers at one of my nanny jobs several years ago, I seriously considered using cloth for my baby as I was planning for her arrival. I wanted to do what was best for my baby, for our bank account, and for the environment. At the same time, I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle. We live in a nyc apartment with a shared laundry facility in the basement, so the cost and effort involved in doing laundry is significant (though not as much as it was at our last apartment where the nearest laundromat was a couple flights of stairs and several blocks away).

I researched cloth diapers and ran the numbers, and found that at $4 per load to wash and dry our laundry, the cost savings of cloth would have been negligible. There might be a little savings after additional kids, but there would probably also be extra accessories and laundry cycles for prepping and stripping the diapers that I hadn’t accounted for, and in the end the cost difference would be on the order of $100, which didn’t seem enough to convince me to make the commitment to such regular laundry.

Meanwhile the various environmental analyses, when considering the energy and water involved in doing the laundry, didn’t come out as convincingly in favor of cloth as one might expect.

The third factor, diaper rash, was something we couldn’t assess until the baby was here.

So I registered for disposables, put several cloth diapers in my “baby idea list” on amazon, and didn’t think about it again for a while. The baby came and we used disposables and tried to get through those first few bleary-eyed months.

Whenever I met New Yorkers who were using cloth for their babies, I would ask them about their laundry set up. Most admitted they weren’t saving much money with it and that they did have quite a laundry routine.

But then one day I met someone who said she had installed a portable washer in her kitchen, so she wasn’t paying per load of laundry. Excitedly, I asked her to tell me more. It turns out she had a Haier portable washing machine which uses a regular outlet and connects to the kitchen sink. I’d never heard of such a thing but it seemed it might make cloth doable for us.

In my neighborhood of Washington Heights we have an active local parents listserve, so I kept an eye out for someone to post a used one. When someone finally did I snapped it up. We brought it home and I used it for a few weeks, trying to do both the baby and adult laundry with it. It works great, and is easy to use for the small baby items. I found however that with the load size and need to find space to hang dry, I couldn’t keep up with the adult laundry with it.

Meanwhile, my daughter got to a point where she was waking almost daily with some rash, despite generous applications of Aquaphor or Boudreau’s Butt Paste and regular treatment with Triple Paste. So, I toyed with the idea that it was time to try cloth.

I asked my husband what he thought, and he said it was a great idea. His mom had switched to cloth for him because of his sensitive skin, so he felt it would be natural to do the same for our baby.

I turned to the listserve again, posting a request for used cloth diapers, and acquired about a dozen pocket diapers, 20 inserts, and several all in one’s for only about $50. What a great deal! I also had put some prefolds and covers in our Amazon cart and when my husband needed to buy something else he went ahead and ordered them.

So about a week later I had all the supplies and was ready to get started. I’ll post soon about how I prepped and what I’ve learned in the first few days.

5 months!

My daughter is 5 months old today, and what a joy.

She is getting more mobile all the time. Now if you put her down on her back most of the time she will roll over to her tummy and happily play that way. She can turn around in a circle, though she is usually trying to move forward
when she ends up turning. She really wants to crawl! She can’t quite sit on her own yet, but she is getting close.

She holds toys in her hands and brings them to her mouth. She is captivated by books and will look at the pages while you read through whole board books, sometimes several times.

She loves it when you sing to her. She especially lights up for Old McDonald Had a Farm, and she is soothed by Hush Little Baby, the Alphabet Song, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

She naps for a few hours a day, often taking about 4 20 or 30 minute naps. A nap of 45 minutes or more is on the long side for her these days. She goes to bed between 7 and 9, most often around 8:30, unswaddled but in the baby merlin magic sleep suit.
image

Sometimes I put her to bed and stay up for a bit, and other times I just lay there with her and go to sleep myself. She wakes up several times through the night and we usually get up for the day around 7:30 am.  She sleeps next to me in the bed and I love the closeness, the ease of nursing, and being able to feel her little body and cuddle her if she is upset.

She really loves to go outside and to be worn in a wrap on me. She smiles just to see me take out the wraps and is usually happy for a long time when I wear her.

She loves to look at herself in the mirror and to look at hands, whether they are hers or someone else’s.

She loves her daddy too and laughs when he plays with her. When he greets her in the morning while she lays in bed next to me she grins widely and looks for him when he leaves the room.

Being her mother is the most wonderful, amazing experience and I am so thankful to share this time with her and watch her grow!

image

Working Motherhood is hard

I know I have it good, because I only work 2 days out of the home each week, but even for me this is tough. I miss my little girl so much. And I know she misses me too. It’s especially hard on days when the nanny tells me that she is fussy. Yesterday she cried for 30 minutes; the nanny said she tried everything but Precious would not be soothed until finally she fell asleep. On days like that I just want to go home and hold my baby!

That night, she fell asleep on the nursing pillow and I stayed there with her for an hour before moving her to bed.

image

Please stop asking how my baby is sleeping!

While pregnant it was “Do you have the nursery ready?”, now it’s “Is she sleeping through the night?”. These questions are asked by acquaintances and even strangers.

As a believer in attachment parenting and a happily cosleeping, bedsharing mom, I always stumble with how to respond to these questions. Do I give the asker a lesson on the benefits of sharing a room? Do I explain how the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parents, that it cuts the risk of SIDS in half?

Do I tell them how frustrated I am that our society is so caught up on supposedly fostering independence at an early age, that despite evidence that it can be done safely and is in fact practiced for at least part of the night in a large amount of American households, the AAP still refuses to talk about how to safely bed share with your infant? This is a disservice because it makes it harder for those who do it without having planned it to learn about how to do it safely. And it makes many feel guilty and feel that they can’t speak openly about their nighttime practices.

Do I answer curtly, with the usually true “No” or the fully honest “Sometimes, though not because I’ve been training her to”? Or perhaps just a small piece of my thinking, “No, and that’s fine with me”.

What I really wish is that instead of asking how my baby sleeps, the common questions would be about what she does while she’s awake. If you want to hear about my baby, how about asking what new things she’s been doing, or whether she likes tummy time or when we will start solids? How about giving me a chance to tell you how she loves to stick her tongue out at people and to blow raspberries, or how she has developed an adorable, genuine laugh? These things are all much more natural and important to me than whether she sleeps through the night.

This is all going too fast

My daughter is 18 weeks old. Last Friday, when she turned 4 months old, I saw her roll. She did it several times, tummy to back, and I even caught it on video.

I took out the toddler seat for the stroller last weekend as well. She really liked it because she loves to be able to see and take in the world around her.

I can’t help but feel she is growing up too fast. It’s like I could blink and when I open my eyes she’ll be crawling. And then blink again and she’s walking. Then talking.

This baby stage is so short. It is also very challenging, and for that reason we appreciate its brevity. Caring for a tiny being who cannot even sit up is a lot of work. When she first started to seem to be teething it was hard because she couldn’t even hold a teether to her mouth. Now she can, although she often does struggle to get the right part in and hold it there. But the positives are so good, I would easily sign on for this again.

I love her so much. I think we are very attached to each other. She needs me, and I need her too.

Sometimes I wish it would last just a bit longer, that I had many more months of easily carrying her in my arms, nursing her to sleep, being her source of warmth and comfort and food. It is so heartwarming and fulfilling. I feel like a more fulfilled person than ever before, full of love and happy memories with my husband and my daughter’s life so far.

I feel so happy that I don’t want it to end. I know that she will grow up and make her own way in the world and our relationship will change and mature. I know that there is plenty of time before that stage. But this part has gone by fast, so I’m sure the next parts will too.  Knowing that from here it will be a constant dance of separation is a source of sadness.

I’ve never felt the march of time so strongly as I do now, caring for my infant daughter with her frequent developments.

I can’t stop time, so I’m left trying to enjoy these moments, each of them, as much as I can.

First date night tonight

Today is my daughter’s 4 month birthday, and I’m writing this as I head downtown for our first date night without Athena. I’m meeting Husband when he gets off work, and then we’re going to have dinner before we head to a concert.

I’m looking forward to the focused time with my husband.

It feels weird, heading out without her but not being on my way to work. I bet it will feel even weirder being at dinner with Husband but not Precious!

But it will be nice to enjoy our dinner at our pace without any worries that it will get cold while tending to the needs of a baby.