Cloth Diapering Update: Yes, We’re Still Going! But I’ve Learned Some Stuff…

Last year, about this time… my husband and I made the decision to cloth diaper our first baby.

The decision was primarily a financial one and since the math showed we could save thousands of dollars by foregoing disposables, it wasn’t hard to commit.

I spent hours browsing the web to figure out what kind of cloth diapers would fit our lifestyle best, stocked up on the necessary goods and waited for baby to arrive.

Ten months after her birth, I’m happy to report we are STILL cloth diapering!

This .gif feels appropriate here.

This .gif feels appropriate here. (Image Credit: MyLittleBrony.com)

I’m gonna take just a second to gloat here for a bit… since several of my co-workers lovingly but insistently told me I’d never keep it going past a few weeks (or months at the most). The fact that we’re still going strong despite our little one gobbling up solids (and expelling them) is so exciting and sometimes, let’s face it, it’s nice to be able to say “I told you so!”

That said, I’ve definitely learned a few things that I’d like to share with all the other moms and dads who might be thinking about cloth. Here we go…

1. Be prepared for double (or even triple) washings

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

If you have a high-efficiency (front loader) washing machine, expect to do some extra washings of your diapers. If your baby has extra sensitive skin (as ours does) you’ll need to rinse each batch thoroughly to get out all the detergent residue. I’ve tried some of the “specialty” cloth diaper detergents like Rockin’ Green and “stripped” the diapers of build-up at least 2 times. Those moves helped… somewhat… The bottom line though? If you’re using cloth diapers (at least the kind we’re using) they will require some extra TLC beyond the “just toss them in the washing machine with a good detergent and you’ll be fine” fallacy you might hear or read online. Even with all that extra effort…

2. The diapers will probably stain

We're using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

We’re using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

Especially since baby started solids, we’ve had some discoloration and staining on all of our diapers. We’re using both Charlie Banana one-size pockets with inserts and Bum Genius one-size.

Fortunately, I found a great tip on the web… sun bleaching! I’ve found laying the diapers and the inserts out in the sun for several hours – or all day if possible – whitens them right up. I guess grandma really did know best! :o) Get me a clothes line, stat!

3. Invest in a diaper sprayer

Like this one. Or this one. At first I thought this was a luxury but once baby started solids… well… it’s a MUST have. Ours was easy to hook up to the toilet and instead of all the poopy going in the washing machine… it goes in the toilet (where it belongs.)

4. Cloth on-the-go is hard to pull off

We’ve pretty much abandoned cloth diapering whenever we go out of the house for an extended period of time. Despite buying a portable wet bag and sporting a can-do attitude, one incident involving a baby crying and screaming on the Target changing table while I desperately tried to adjust the “snappies” on her diaper was enough to put me off the whole thing.

5. Puffy diapers make for nice padding on baby’s bottom when they plop down

It’s worth noting that with baby girl getting more mobile and pulling herself up a lot, it’s nice to have an extra cushion when she plops back down again. She seems to enjoy it anyway. :o)

Are you a cloth diapering parent? What did you learn in the early months? Any recommendations for others? Share your comments here!

Ciao,

Michelle

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How To Save Money On Disposable Diapers

Diapers are expensive. Super expensive. On the order of a new car downpayment expensive.

Most estimates I’ve seen online put the total cost between $1,500 – $3,000 for a single child in disposables, on an average potty training timeline. That’s one reason I opted to use “pocket” cloth diapers for our new little baby.

Unfortunately, for reasons outlined here, cloth diapers are not an option for everyone – especially families who are struggling with poverty. That’s one reason we’re partnering up for a month-long effort with RocketCityMom.com this September called “The Great Diaper Drive.”

Join our effort September 1st - 30th!

Join our effort September 1st – 30th!

We’re collecting disposable diapers for local babies in need, to be distributed through a local non-profit called Manna House. Details on how to donate here.

As our effort ramps up, I thought it’d be a nice idea to dig up tips for all mommas and dads on how to buy disposables more cheaply. It can be done.

Basic Tips

1. Buy in bulk (look for cheaper cost-per-unit or cost-per-diaper)

Make like you’re headed to Costco. In fact, Costco (or any other warehouse shopping outlet) is a great place to buy “bulk” diapers. They’re often (although not always) much cheaper when purchased in packs of 100 + than when bought in smaller sizes. Economies of scale.

2. Buy store brands

Store brands are often way cheaper than Huggies & Pampers. Just the other day I picked up a package of Size 3 for Jane (which we use on the occasions when she has developed diaper rash) and saved at least $3.00 over the premium brand they had on the shelf.

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct @ $20.23 on Diapers.com

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct going for $20.23 on Diapers.com

3. Stock up during sales

I just did this with baby food – stocking an entire pantry shelf with Stage 2 jars & pouches. Jane is not anywhere close to eating Stage 2 (6 months +) but she will be eventually and certainly within the expiration date. My husband laughed out loud looking at our overstuffed pantry but the principle applies to diapers too. Buy whatever size IS on sale WHEN it’s on sale.

Advanced Strategies

1. Combine coupons

Make like TLC’s extreme couponing masters and keep an folder of clipped coupons (or printed ones from the web) that you can combine for maximum savings. The Coupon Centsation has for example an excellent blog post showing how you can MAKE money off a Huggies Diaper purchase starting this Sunday, September 8th! Yes, this strategy requires some work but if you’re a detail person…

2. Sign up for online promotions and fliers

Diaper companies are all over social media now, just like we all are. Take a minute to like your favorite brands or sign up for rewards programs. Send letters or emails to diaper companies to share your experiences. You may just get some rewards in return.

up&up™ Baby Diapers - Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 - $26.00

up&up™ Baby Diapers – Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 – $26.00

Pampers and Huggies also offer loyalty rewards programs. Diaper packages will feature codes to enter online after registering for an account and adding codes found on other products like baby wipes can add to your rewards!

3. Shop online

Diapers.com and Amazon.com. Can’t lose with best price comparison.

Big Things Happening! Join Us For “The Great Diaper Drive”

I’ve been settling in as a new mommy for a few months now and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that we go through a LOT of diapers. All you ladies out there weren’t kidding!

We’re still going strong with pocket cloth diapers (hoping to save some big money) but occasionally our little one gets a gnarly case of diaper rash that requires a slathering of cream and disposables. The last time that happened, we raced through a full pack of diapers in about two days! Talk about expensive.

Sadly, not every mom is in a position to use cloth diapers and many are struggling to keep up with the massive expense of disposables. That’s why I’m so excited to announce that WHNT News 19 is partnering up with RocketCityMom.com this September to collect diapers for local families in need!

“The Great Diaper Drive” will be happening all month long and you’ll see me on-air and on-location… putting the call out for people to join us in this wonderful effort.

All diapers will be distributed through Manna House, a local 501(c)3. Click here to make an online donation. Please enter “diapers” in the comment section. A donation of $25 will buy 200 diapers.

You can also donate disposable diapers and wipes at these businesses all month long:

  • Manna House – 2110 South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville from 2:00-7:00 p.m. (Monday, Wednesday or Thursday)
  • A Nurturing Moment – 7540 Memorial Pkwy SW in Huntsville
  • Itty Bitty – 5732 U.S. 431, Brownsboro, AL 35741
  • Kidventure – 500 Lanier Road, Ste. D in Madison
  • The Little Gym locations – 2124 Cecil Ashburn Dr. SE and 470 Providence Main St NW
  • Posh Mommy and Baby, Too! – 7755 Hwy 72 W. in Madison
  • WAY-FM – 9582 Madison Blvd. #8 in Madison

Kidventure will also host a Diaper Shower on Sunday, September 8th from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Every child that brings a package of disposable diapers gets in free!  There will be refreshments, live entertainment and door prizes.

To read more on the local need for diapers and why we’ve decided to Take Action with this diaper drive, click here.

How To Get Free Breastfeeding Pumps & Supplies

A very close girlfriend of mine happens to be pregnant right now as well and she told me something recently that sounded too good to be true. She mentioned that, due to some provisions in the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – her insurance was going to cover the cost of her breastfeeding supplies, including a pump!

breastfeeding

Regardless of your feelings about Obamacare, this is exciting news. At least it was for me. As a mommy-to-be who will be trying to breastfeed and work I have been researching higher-end breast pumps and they are EXPENSIVE. The double-electric models (allowing you to pump both breasts at the same time with greater efficiency) can run up to $300 at least.

So all you ladies out there who are expecting, or if you know someone who is expecting, take note. Here’s what I’ve been able to dig up on the expanded maternity coverage provisions of Obamacare.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, under the Affordable Care Act, “women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services – is covered with no cost sharing for new health plans.”

This includes “breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.” More specifically, comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, plus costs for renting breastfeeding equipment.

Some insurance companies are going beyond just covering equipment rentals and offering to cover the cost of some or all of a personal breast pump! United Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest insurance providers, is adopting this approach.

Per the company’s website, “UnitedHealthcare will cover the purchase of a personal, double-electric breast pump at no cost to the member.”

“To rent or purchase breast pumps, members will be required to contact UnitedHealthcare or a network physician, hospital or durable medical equipment (DME) supplier. The physician, hospital or DME supplier will bill UnitedHealthcare directly for reimbursement. Members will not be able to purchase supplies, such as breast pumps, at retail and send the receipt for reimbursement.”

A quick scan of the comment sections of several popular mommy blogs reveals stories of folks getting brand-name equipment like Medela and Ameda using this approach!

Ameda "Purely Yours Ultra" Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

Ameda “Purely Yours Ultra” Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

There are of course, some “catches” with this exciting development. Depending on when your insurance plan “rolled” over – or when the start of your new policy year begins – you may not be eligible for expanded maternity care coverage or a breast pump.

As I learned when I checked into my own eligibility, there are also “grandfathered” insurance plans, which are not required to comply with all of the new ACA guidelines immediately – even though those guidelines were upheld as legal. Here’s an explanation of how those “grandfathered” plans can operate as such.

If, like me, you sadly don’t get to take advantage of this new benefit from the ACA due to “grandfathering” or other conditions that partially exempt your insurance provider, take heart. You may still be able to save some money on your breast feeding equipment!

Many employers offer what are called “flexible spending accounts.” Pre-tax money deposited in such an account can be used to cover the cost of many medical supplies including breast pumps and related equipment! As the New York Times reported, “the Internal Revenue Service announced [in 2011] that it would grant nursing mothers a tax break on pumps and other breastfeeding supplies.”

If you don’t have a flexible spending account, you might still be able to get a tax break. The New York Times also stated that those “without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total unreimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize.”

So… all that said, make sure to check with your insurance provider or company HR department to see if you are entitled to a free breast pump or lactation support classes! If not, keep an eye out for extra savings come tax season. Then you can spend the money saved on cute baby clothes!

Ladies, if you’ve tried any of these money-saving techniques for breast feeding, feel free to share your experiences below!

Best Books For Baby? My Favorites…

As far back as I can remember, I have loved books… and there’s something especially magical about the good ones when you’re a kid.

Now, with a first baby on the way, I’m looking forward to sharing my love of books with my own little girl… and working to make sure she doesn’t miss out on any of the classics!

When a good friend offered to throw me a baby shower, my first thought was to do one of those cool celebrity-inspired “book” showers. What a wonderful way to start a baby’s library! Then I realized that we had absolutely nothing in the house for baby in a practical sense… so that idea was tossed. lol.

Instead, I’ve been adding some baby books to our registry… and digging through old boxes to find some of the best from my own first years. Here are five of my favorites…

1. The Jolly Postman

jollypostman

Technically, this book is for older children. It’s so much fun though… and it’s a standout from my childhood. I loved it so much I saved it and kept it with me all these years to give to my own little one. The central story? A postman is delivering various letters to people… and each page has a real letter that you can pull out and read for yourself! It’s wonderfully interactive. You can still find some copies online via eBay and Amazon.

2. My Little Golden Book About God

goldengod

I think this might be the first book I ever owned. It’s so sweet and has such endearing pictures. It’s also a great “starter” book about faith… I know it stuck with me.

3. B is for Bear

bbear

Such a cute one. As an added bonus, it teaches the alphabet and develops vocabulary too! It’s also good for even very young babies… so it’s a great starter. One of the first I put on my registry.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

caterpillar

I think I checked this book out of the library more than one-hundred times. I just loved the “peep holes” in the book and how you could watch the caterpillar snack his way to becoming butterfly! They now have several incarnations of this book available, including a board book and a mini-version. There’s even a stuffed caterpillar!

5. The Cat in the Hat

cathat

Every kid should have some exposure to the wacky world of Dr. Suess, right? The illustrations, in my opinion are what really make this book – in addition to the rhyming. I remember being totally enthralled with the quirky drawings, as much as the story.

So… there you have it. Five of my favorites. What were your favorite books from childhood? Are there any you made sure to have your little one read? What books are their favorites? Share below!

Baby’s Nursery: Go Cheap Or Whole Hog?

Hubby and I have reached that point in the pregnancy when it’s time to start putting together the nursery. You’d think that would be easy. Pick out furniture, paint the walls, add some cute blankets and voila! The perfect little place for baby and family.

Except, for some reason it’s been really difficult to decide how to approach the nursery and it all stems from one question – should we go cheap or “whole hog” as they say?

The benefits of going cheap are obvious. Babies are messy. They destroy things when they get to toddler stage. Furniture gets banged up and doesn’t last anyway. As many of you readers mentioned in our previous discussion on cloth diapering – babies often end up getting changed whenever (and wherever) you have time. That really undercuts the argument for something like a changing table and other “fancies” as my husband might call them.

Then you have those giant “nursery bedding” sets. The adorable ones with matchy-matchy animal designs and a crib skirt with bumpers like this…

Little Bedding by NoJo Dreamland Teddy 10pc Nursery in a Bag

Little Bedding by NoJo Dreamland Teddy 10pc Nursery in a Bag

I’ve seen some run as high as $300.00 including wall decorations. Really, does baby care about a few decals on the wall? I’ve also read those solid fabric bumpers can be unsafe – since baby can roll up against them while sleeping.

On the other hand…

I love, love, love all those cute little bedding sets! Maybe it’s the new mommy in me but when I see pictures like this…

or like this…

Tiffany Theissen's Lavender Celebrity Baby Nursery (Designed by Lonni Paul)

Tiffany Theissen’s Lavender Celebrity Baby Nursery (Designed by Lonni Paul)

I DO desperately want to create that “perfect” little space for momma and baby. Comments from some friends have really reinforced this idea as well. A girlfriend who just gave birth to her little one a few months ago said having a glider/rocker was such a comfort when nursing to her AND the baby. So now I’m thinking we should get one…

I also really like the idea of spending a little more on a convertible crib and some furniture pieces that will grow with our little girl and hopefully last. Then I see some of the prices – $650 for just a crib alone and a cringe.

There’s no way we’ll ever be able to spend $5,000 – $10,000 on our nursery… Maybe $750 if we really economize and I put my Google ninja skills to use to find online deals. (Contrary to popular belief, we TV people don’t all make a Katie Couric salary. lol.)

I did find this combo furniture set at Walmart…

Summer Infant - Fairfield Crib Set

…with good reviews for an almost-seems-too-good-to-be-true price. I’m wondering if I should splurge a little more though. How much we should really invest in baby’s nursery given the time we’ll spend there?

So that’s where you all come in. How much did you spend on baby’s nursery? Did you find ways to decorate for less? How much did creating that “perfect” little nest matter to you?

Post below ladies! Can’t wait to hear from you all…

What Do You REALLY Need For A Baby?

One of the most stressful things about preparing for a baby so far has been trying to figure out what we really need for our little bundle… and what we don’t.

Diapers. Wipes. Formula. A place to sleep. Those are obvious. Then you get to places like Babies R’ Us and find out there’s a great big world of baby items out there that retailers insist are “essentials.” When I first saw our registry guide, I admit I was totally overwhelmed!

That feeling of frustration has only grown after talking with co-workers and friends. I’ve been asking the same questions: “Which of your registry items were the most helpful?” “Which were totally a waste of money?”

Everyone has a different response. So what’s a new momma to do?

Here are my thoughts on a couple of items that seem to be most controversial – falling into the REALLY need or NO WAY lists of just about everyone I talked with.

South Shore Savannah Changing Table

Changing Table – We have decided to register for/buy one of these as a home base for our cloth diapering. I have heard from several cloth advocates who say having an organized, designated spot to store and manage your diapers is a must if you expect to keep going with the project. Still, at $100 or more a pop I can see where people see this as a waste.

Wipes Warmer – Found one for about $25 at Babies R’ Us but am on the fence about whether to register for it or not. I’ve read that wipes left inside for too long get a little yucky. I also read that baby will scream bloody murder if you are always wiping her little bum with warm, snuggly wipes then have to switch to cold!

Graco Pack ‘N Play Travel Play Yard

Pack N’ Play – We have not registered for this. My co-worker tells me I am INSANE for not doing so. He says it’s the only way to keep baby contained when you’re rushing around the house trying to manage other errands. He also pointed out how helpful it is when traveling to see family. I feel like they are awfully expensive and our home environment is such that I could keep a pretty good watch over a young one. Maybe not. lol.

Hooded Towels – I admit, I was suckered in by an especially cute whale design with fish too and registered for some of these. Many parents I know say they are totally unhelpful though and that a nice, warm, fluffy towel for a baby works better at keeping them warm. On the plus side a nice, warm, fluffy towel could cost a few bucks and the hooded towels $15.00+.

So parents, what do you think of my observations above? What items did you find were “must haves” for a new baby? What items did you register for you that you wished you had skipped?

Share your thoughts below!