Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why you need a diaper sprayer

You can survive for the first several months of your child's life blissfully satisfied with whatever arrangement you have to deal with getting poop off of diapers.  The time will come, however, when it becomes both easier and more difficult to remove poop.  This happens sometime after your child begins eating solid foods.  The time for a diaper sprayer has arrived.  The benefits of a sprayer are quite numerous.  Beyond the fact that they help cut down on smell while diapers are in limbo before being laundered they also start the laundry process immediately.  Using the sprayer will dramatically cut down on staining and smell issues that you may be experiencing after laundering your diapers.  It also feels nicer than scraping poop off of your diapers with a plastic poopstick.  If you do that you still have a dirty poopstick that needs cleaning when you are done.  I'm obviously not a fan of the poopstick technique, for those of you who are I salute you but I'll keep my sprayer.

I'm not going to review every sprayer on the market or tell you exactly which one to buy.  What I will do is tell you what I looked for in a sprayer and what I like about the one I chose.  My initial list included just three major things, it had to be easily removable, have an adjustable spray pressure, and have a cutoff valve.  Since I purchased and have been using mine for some time now I would include mounting hardware and a temporary cutoff or flow control valve on the handle.  So my ideal diaper sprayer easily mounts to the cutoff valve of a toilet and has an easy to use cutoff valve of it's own that is independent of the toilet.  This is just in case of leaks or for peace of mind for long absences from home.  Alternatively the ability to easily remove the sprayer from the valve allows it to be portable if necessary.  My sprayer has two ways to adjust pressure.  The first and most obvious one is the sprayer lever.  The more it is pressed the more pressure.  This is important because you want to start the spray gently and ramp the pressure up so as to not splatter poop all over your bathroom walls.  Trust me it can happen and the walls aren't necessarily the only things hit; you are standing there after all.  The second and a feature I like very much is there is a flow control lever on the bottom of the handle.  This functions as an easily accessible cutoff valve so that if your child decides to play with the sprayer they can't easily spray down your bathroom.    It can also be shut partially to reduce the total water volume of the sprayer just in case you have too much water coming through the sprayer.  I installed it myself in very little time and have had no leak issues that some people report with the sprayer I purchased.  I am a very experienced DIY plumber so keep that in mind.  I used small amounts of Teflon tape during the assembly of my sprayer to cut down on leaks, that was my magic trick which I'm passing on to you.  The last thing I want to mention is mounting hardware.  Keep in mind the fact that you will want to hang your sprayer somewhere and look at mounting options included with your sprayer or plan for them if you plan to construct your own.  It just makes the whole experience more tidy and that is what having the sprayer is all about, being tidy.

All of that said it is quite possible that you can fabricate a more than serviceable sprayer from a kitchen sink dish sprayer hose a "T" valve and a ball valve or two.  Now the connection type for a toilet valve and a kitchen sink sprayer are two different types of connections and adapters will have to be used to make it work.  My local hardware store didn't have what I wanted so I opted for a commercial product.  I was not willing to employ hose clamps.  There is an excellent tutorial for a setup similar to what I wanted to do here.  I don't see any reason to reinvent the wheel and they did an excellent job explaining the process.

The diaper sprayer has at least one added benefit.  They are a great tool for helping keep the toilet bowl clean.  It has been a good purchase and something that I think you will appreciate having in your cloth diapering arsenal.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Snaps vs. velcro

One of the major differences between the various diaper brands will be the use of either snap closures or velcro.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  In the middle of the night I'm a fan of the velcro (hook and loop fasteners) closures. I don't have to fumble around counting snaps to make sure the diaper is going to fit.  I can just slap down the velcro tabs do a quick fit check and if all goes well I'm back to bed before I completely wake up.  During those first few months of cloth diapering we exclusively put our daughter in velcro closure diapers for that very reason.  The obvious drawback to using velcro is that it's not the friendliest of things once in the laundry.  While most diapers have some easy way to close the velcro tabs during the wash they will inevitability come open on occasion.  This isn't the end of the world but it's an annoyance that you will have to deal with.

Now snap closure diapers are great for a couple of situations as well.  The snap closure diapers are easier for day cares to deal with.  You can set the diaper to the appropriate settings and the day care workers need only snap them back together the same way you sent them.  This makes it easier for the day care to get used to how cloth diapers fit.  In my experience the fit around the waist should be loose but the fit around the leg should be snug.  You will probably find that day care workers will try to provide a water tight seal between your child and their diaper given the option.  They don't realize that this isn't how cloth diapers are supposed to fit.  Now I should make mention of the only problem that snaps have had in the laundry is during the drying process.  We have had 3 snap fatalities using the drier.  Granted it's probably the drier's fault but none the less it happened so it's something you should be made aware of.

As in the past my advice on the subject is to get some of each kind.  The ability to be flexible and adapt to your situation is invaluable when dealing with anything let alone diapering your children.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Let me start by saying that the single most important component of your arsenal of laundry tools is your water.  Like with many things if you start with bad water your final product isn't going to be good either.  I've lived places where we had great water.  Just about anything I did gave me clean diapers.  All the usual soaps worked, the free and clear, Charlie's, specialty soaps like rock'n green; it all just worked.  Now I live in an area where the water is very hard but not with the traditional dissolved metals.  In most areas calcium and magnesium make up the deposits that form on faucets and taps that are indicative of hard water.  Whatever is in my water here doesn't do that.  It just makes it impossible for most soaps to get diapers clean.

The free and clear of all varieties failed to clean the diapers.  Charlies (borax) built up in the micro fiber diapers and made them water proof (not repellent but quite literally water proof).  Regular old Tide powder wouldn't dissolve.  The list went on and on.  Finally we tried biokleen   They make bacout which is a spray that seemed to help with smell issues we were having.  So in order to deal with our really bad water a system was developed.  First a soak cycle a full load worth of biokleen.  This is followed by a full wash cycle.  In that cycle a downy ball filled to the bottom line with white vinegar is added.  An extra rinse is employed to get rid of the vinegar smell.

It was a very frustrating experience that when we moved our old system for cleaning diapers failed so miserably and so quickly.  The mad rush of experimentation was frustrating.  Finding the solution was such a relief.  In the end it was worth it.  So remember when you are online looking at reviews of soaps to use to clean your diapers.  The water is the most important ingredient in your laundry.  Your water dictates how you have to clean your diapers.  So find something that works for you, your baby, and your water; use it.  And who cares what the review sites say.  As long as you get clean diapers that absorb water and that don't irritate your child's skin you've won the laundry game.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy your victory!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You are an Ambassador

The thing you need to realize as someone who uses cloth diapers is that you are an ambassador for the rest of us to your part of the world.  People are going to find out that you use cloth and ask you about it.  Where a lot of people will go wrong is that the firs thing they will do is apologize to that person for their choice. Do not apologize for this decision!  When someone asks you about cloth diapers the main thing that you need to do is be excited about your choice.  This is particularly helpful when you go to a day care center and want to get them on board with cloth diapering your child.  In the case of day cares you can come prepared for this encounter.  Put your child in a diaper that you think the person at the day care will find cute or otherwise attractive.  When you tell them you cloth diaper your child they will say "oh, why?"  They are confused and put off by your choice.  You need to get them excited about it.  Come back by revealing the diaper and ask them if you can show them how they work.  Continue to be excited about the diapers.  Let's be honest using cloth diapers is just as easy as using disposable ones.  The only major difference is you dispose of poop in the toilet and place the diaper in a wet bag in stead of the trash.  Now let's be honest with ourselves here; isn't disposing of poop in a toilet a much better solution than bundling it up and putting it in a trash bin to stink up the room.  Forgive me my aside.  You see I'm excited about how using cloth diapers has benefited my life and my daughter's life too.  Now after your demonstration about how easy cloth diapers are to use most people will decide that they are actually easy to use, some may even think they are cool or great.

To recap:
1. Don't apologize for using cloth
2. Be excited
3. Use bold color or patterned diapers if you can plan ahead
4. Show them in action
5. Remember you are our Ambassador!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plan to fail

Every so often when you are using cloth diapers things seem to just not work the way they did last week.  Sometimes the washing machine decides to do something funny and you get repellent diapers.  Your child grows and changes and the diapers that were iron clad, leak proof, infallible poop sacks are now leaky, ill fitting nightmares.  It is important that you have some kind of diaper to fall back on.  You need that go to brand that just fits when things change or when things don't seem to be working.  For me those have been g diapers.  I know they may not be the choice or the greenest of cloth diapers but more often than not I can make them fit my daughter.  They have saved us when traveling and the airline lost our luggage.  Since babies'r'us carries the g diaper system it's easy enough to get some disposable inserts or a few extra covers or whatever. Just knowing that I could take a trip and buy something to help me get by for a day or so with less than our full stash of diapers was comforting.
Being a dad sometimes means that you are the back up plan or you have to have the back up plan.  Finding something that is easy for you to use and versatile is a must.  The infinite adjustability of the fuzzi bunz is amazing and the ease of use of the new free time diapers bum genius makes is fantastic.  Snaps are very nice because once you get them figured out all you have to do is snap them exactly the same way every time for a great fit, well at least for a few weeks.  Velcro is fantastic for getting a "custom" fit.  Velcro is fantastic in the dark for midnight, half awake diaper changes.  Velcro is, however, not fantastic in the laundry.  So like everything else there is a price to pay.  Just know that it's a lot easier to pay that price after you swooped in and saved the day by having a back up plan.  So keep a couple diapers that work well for you stashed away for when things fail.  It's cool to be the hero.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why Cloth

According to wikipedia the first disposable diaper was invented in 1948.  That means that for many of us parents now it's highly likely that our parents had cloth diapers on their bums rather than disposables.  Yet the reaction I get when I tell people that my daughter is in cloth diapers is one of mild shock.  Strangely enough despite advances in the technology in disposable diapers people seem to assume that the advances in cloth diaper technology stopped in 1948.  Lucky for us it hasn't.  The idea of putting at least 5000 disposable diapers in a landfill was troubling to me and my wife.  We planned on using some form of cloth diaper for some period of our daughter's life.  We weren't firmly committed to full time cloth diapering before she was born; we were going to be dabblers.  We got at least half a dozen different types of cloth diapers for our baby showers.  It was easy to get people on board with this since we didn't find out the sex of our child until she was born so people couldn't run out and buy cute little girls clothes for her until after she was born.

Our plans changed when our daughter came home.  She had been showing signs of an allergy to the disposable diapers at the hospital and the day she got home it looked awful.  Well like any dad I wasn't going to stand for that.  I looked through our stack of cloth diapers, picked out a small one, decided it was simple enough that even I could attach it to my daughter, and I folded and velcro'd until my daughter seemed securely and comfortably situated in a g diaper.  Within a few hours her rash was going away.  At her next diaper change I put her in another g diaper.  By the next morning my daughter was fine, she has never had problems with diaper rash since; I was sold.  We were going to cloth diaper full time.


I have a daughter who is just starting to potty train, thank God!  From the first day my wife and I brought her home we have used cloth diapers.  While the journey hasn't been perfect I have learned a great deal over the course of my daughter's life.  My wife and I have tried numerous types of diapers, my wife has even hand made several diapers.  I have been peed on, I've had to leave places because I was ill prepared and caught without an extra change of clothes for my daughter and sometimes even for me.  But all in all the experience has been positive.  I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about cloth diapers.  I have been a cloth diaper advocate out in public.  I have found myself answering questions about things like midnight diaper changes, smell, cost, laundry.  But most importantly I have never had my wife call me and ask me to pick up diapers on my way home from work.