baby

WORKS OF THE HOME: CLOTH DIAPERING

 
Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos
Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos

If you ask me, there are too many ways to diaper a child. When left with myriad options, it’s hard to know which is the simplest, or the most suited to your lifestyle, and is there even such a thing as a best method? To say nothing of the names given to every specific style of diaper. Cloth diapering has become something of a culture — one that can inappropriately feel exclusive and expensive — but in essence is just one way to keep pee and poop from getting everywhere. While pregnant, we had the privilege of being able to consider the cost and the environmental impact of our decisions, but I recognize that not everyone can do that. My parents cloth diapered because it was the cheapest way. Now that we’ve established that a diapered tush and sane parents are what really matters, I want to offer the diapering system we adopted and have used with great ease since the day Rosemary was born. I will go so far as to describe diapering as a joy. (Edited to add: That’s not to suggest the contents are pleasant.) The method is very inexpensive in the long run and was affordable in the short run (our family income is under 30k, for reference). It uses natural fibers (just cotton and wool), and allows for usage beyond just diapers. And for any non-parents reading this post, the endless uses for prefold diapers might just convince you to buy a pack for your home.

Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos
Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos

In essence, our method is to use cotton “prefold” diapers, which are rectangles of gauze-y cotton, with a wool cover on top. It’s hard to overstate how exceptional wool is as a diaper cover. Fishermen and sailors living in the coastal regions of the world have rich histories of wool-wearing, because they needed something to keep them a) warm at sea, b) cool at sea, and c) dry at sea. Wool was the only match for the job. Sheep’s fiber is a renewable resource that is antimicrobial, temperature-regulating, and capable of absorbing liquid while at the same time wicking it away. I fell hard for wool when I became a knitter, but it wasn’t until I had a baby that I truly understood its incredible properties.

Rosemary was born a big baby with leg rolls to rival the Michelin Man. We initially set out to use plastic pants and microfiber covers over her prefold diaper, because they were graciously gifted to us (if you know much about modern cloth diapers, they are very pricey, checking in around $20-30 per diaper!), and we suspected they would work well. Pretty quickly Rosemary got red and irritated around her thighs. A combination of unbreathable material being too tight around her chubby legs. After a few weeks I invested in a wool cover (pictured below), and we have used the same cover every day of her life for nine months. I have washed it—wait for it—five times. And it does not smell. I repeat, we have used the same wool diaper cover every day, all day. . . for nine months. . . and I have washed it five times. . . and it does not smell. I don’t know of any other material capable of such a feat; not cotton, not silk, certainly not synthetics. In reality, there is much science to explain the properties of wool, but I prefer to think of and describe it as “the magic of wool.”

The simple, economical diapering method that we swear by . . .

for daytime —
+ Prefold diaper.
+ Cotton insert, if baby won’t be changed for several hours. (We generally don’t need to use one during the day.)
+ Snappi, a genius invention that eliminates pins.
+ Wool diaper cover.

for nighttime —
+ Prefold diaper.
+ Cotton insert, for extra absorption.
+ Wool liner, for keeping the diaper area warm through the night. (Cotton does not retain heat.)
+ Snappi, a genius invention that eliminates pins.
+ Wool pants as the diaper cover. (Used in hot and cold weather alike.)


Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos
Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos

As for how to put on a prefold diaper, after a tiny bit of practice (and you will get practice), you’ll see it’s rather easy. (Green Mountain Diapers outlines several fold options in detail. Our preferred fold is “the twist,” pictured below.) Every baby is different, and not all skin types respond the same way to cloth diapers. This continues to work for us, in large part because of the simplicity and economical merit. If you are interested in cloth diapering, you might give this cotton + wool method a try. If questions arise, or if you have something I should know about, please do get in touch. In the next of this two-part blog series, I'll share about laundering and maintaining your cotton diapers and woolens. Here’s to you, baby-rearing/loving/diapering humans of the world!

And a few more uses for prefold diapers . . .

+ Burp cloths.
+ Breast pad at nighttime, for when you just cannot bear to wear a bra but want to avoid leaking milk on your top.
+ Dust cloths.
+ Cleaning up spills of any kind.
+ Handkerchiefs.
+ Laying under your naked baby.
+ Chopped up and put into the compost as fertilizer. (Cotton and wool will biodegrade, but preferably you’ll find an expectant mama who can make good use of them.)

Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos
Cloth Diapering Cotton and Wool Natural Parenting by Samantha Spigos

—S

THIS SIDE OF LOVE

 
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There is simply no way to put into words the all-consuming sensation of looking at your baby. Your baby. Someone you made; someone who did not exist before. There is no work of art more beautiful than the face of your baby, and I understand now that all parents are actually artists. Life is a paradox, where newborn days are mundane and monotonous and magnificent and magical, proving to have no discernible beginning or end. Nurse, poop, cry, sleep, nurse, poop, cry, sleep. Bounce, bounce, bounce, rock, bounce, never stop bouncing. We've danced this new reality for three weeks, which is simultaneously an absolute eternity and no time at all, a flit. Our baby is ancient but impossibly fresh to the world; she is tiny but two whole pounds bigger than when she arrived. She is our baby, our baby, our baby. We are merely shepherds to this little lamb named Rosemary, and we do our best.

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I took the photos of our bedroom when she was still in utero. Things are decidedly less tidy and there are a few telltale signs of new parenthood now: a stool next to the bed covered with salves and balms and breast pads, a pillow on the rocker for extra lumbar support, an unending supply of to-be-washed cloth diapers on the changing table, an exercise ball for the aforementioned bouncing, a heap of Mark's and my clothes in a pile, and our beautiful linen sheets have been temporarily replaced with trusty flannels. I am particularly glad for the sheets decision, as she has had a blowout while nursing on our bed every day this week. During the final weeks of nesting, I knit Rosemary a humble little stack of sweaters, diaper covers, hats and bonnets — even a little stuffed bunny — only to find that we hate dressing our child and can hardly bear to put anything on her precious, perfect skin. It's enough to put her little tush in a cloth diaper. So the woolens will dutifully remain in their drawer. On this side of love, mama, dad, and their little Rosie valentine learn as they go, and boy are they ever glad for it. 

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—S

LO, HOW A ROSE E'ER BLOOMING

 
Rosemary

We are truly overjoyed to share the good news of our daughter, Rosemary Isidora, born to us at home on January 21st. With the help of many loving hands, our 9 lb., 8 oz. baby was ushered into life on this side of Earth. Our hearts are exploding with the immense love only a parent can know. We give thanks to God that we have been entrusted with her life, that we could be so blessed. Thank you for the outpouring of love we've received.


—M&S

HEY, IT'S US | PHOTOS FOR OUR BABY

 
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The fact is we don't have many photos of ourselves. Maybe more than you do, but for two people who have co-authored a blog almost every week for two years, you might suspect we would have more photos of ourselves. As we (startlingly) approach seven months of pregnancy we naturally discuss what our child will learn about us before shim was earthside. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of our Moms and Dads from decades gone by are worth a million. So we spent an evening compiling images of our shared life (admittedly all but two are from after we were married), sent them off to our favorite printers, and now we hold them in our hands to share with our kid someday. 

Scanning through the thousands and thousands of images on our trusty Macbook (we really do share everything) irradiated just how many beautiful things we've been through together. Such grand adventuring has also meant plenty of "little deaths" to the lifestyle or locales that we knew—and little deaths will keep coming—but the bottom line is ours is a life that has always been Really Fun and Very Good and there is no reason to think it will grow to be anything but. From renovating a puny camper  while raising goats to climbing a Greek mountain during a North African dust storm to driving an inscrutable number of miles through New York (as in photo two). In our almost-two years of marriage and almost-six years of being together, we have stories-a-plenty to share with shim! 

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If you're wondering where we are in this slam dunk of a moment — it was our very own Ohio, at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The best.

If you're wondering where we are in this slam dunk of a moment — it was our very own Ohio, at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The best.


—M&S