Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cloth diapering

So we're almost into month 5 of cloth diapering and I have to say that we're really happy with our decision.

We originally purchased the cloth diapering start-up package from Diaper Eez in Bloor West Village. This set us up with a diaper pail, 2 charcoal filters for the pail, 2 deodorizing pucks for the pail, 2 diaper pail bags, 30 diapers/covers of our choosing. We ended up going with the Bummis brand unbleached, organic "prefolds" diapers instead of the all-in-one style, mostly because they're significantly cheaper (we would have gone with the bleached, "Chinese" cotton - they're racially suspect classification, not mine! - but they don't sell them any more due to low demand from uptight parents who want everything their kid to touch to be organic.) The all-in-one style (where the extra cotton absorbent part and the shell are one attached piece) also mean that you have to wash the insert and shell together every single time, which means you have to buy more, and at $25 a pop on average and with the recommendation that you stock up on at least 24 diapers, that shiz adds up!

We bought 24 of the small sized cloth diaper inserts (which basically just look like a rectangle of fabric with a thicker, reinforced panel going down the middle), and 12 of the larger sized ones as well as 6 of the Bummis Super Whisper Wrap covers, which look like this:

The Super Whisper Wraps feel like a laminated cotton, so they're quite plasticky on the outside and they were sold to us as being better than other Bummis wraps because of the extra interior leg gusset (which you can see above) which is supposed to help keep the poop in. We used them once and didn't like them.

Luckily, I had bought a set of GroBaby semi-disposable diaper inserts and 6 GroBaby shells when they were on sale through BabySteals. The company has rebranded as GroVia, which is why the GroBaby stuff was 50% off. The inserts are 100% compostable and basically stick inside the shell, with the same design as a regular, disposable diaper. BEST INVESTMENT EVER. I can't say enough good things about the GroVia shells. They're a soft material (so they don't feel plasticky), the leg gussets fit nice and tight and hold the cloth in, and the velcro tabs compared to the Bummis are off the chains good. Here's what they look like:

After digging around ye olde internets, it looks like the new line of the Gro Via's feature button snaps instead of velcro. MISTAKE! Velcro makes the BEST waistband cinching material. As you can see, the Gro Via's have a series of snaps on the front to make it easier to adjust the length as your baby grows.

So we basically use the Bummi's prefold inserts, folded up inside the Gro Via shells and love them. There are MANY ways to fold a pre-fold cloth diaper. I sent the Dotytron a link to some options and we did a trifold in the beginning, but the Dotytron 2 weeks in came up with a fold he calls "the elephant" which has been the best - it features a wide, spread out rear piece for the poops narrowing down to a three-fold for the pee part. Hard to explain, but it works a charm. With 24 diapers, we do laundry about every 3 days. Master T goes through about 6-8 diapers a day (I change him about every 1.5-2 hours) and we use 2 disposables at night. When we go out, we generally use the Gro Via insert inside the shell.

Questions we get asked:

1) How often do you do laundry?
As I mentioned, we wash the diapers (and yes, we wash them ourselves and don't use as service) every 3 days. When it's summer, I'll probably line-dry the diapers out in the sun, which has the added bonus of bleaching out the poop stains (it's like magic!) in addition to saving on energy.

2) Does it stink?
Milk poos don't stink. It actually just smells like buttermilk (and I should know, as when I opened a carton of buttermilk for Tuesday's pancakes, I was tricked into thinking that the Big Yam had deuced)

I can't say enough good things about this. We've had ZERO poopsplosions (poo leaking out the diaper and up the back of the baby) with the cloth, with 1 close call. In the disposables, poopsplosions are de rigeur. It's gross. It's just as easy as disposable and I'm big on the environmental benefits. Which have been questioned by some people, now that disposable diapers can be chucked into the green bin, but I will say the following:

1) disposable diapers still require processing to filter out the plastic
2) they still CONTAIN plastic
3) even though we use water and energy to wash our diapers, with new high efficiency washers and dryers, I have a hard time believing that it's not more environmentally sound than disposable, especially when stuff isn't going to a landfill
4) the environmental impact of PRODUCING the diapers has got to be less with cloth, if for no other reason than you make a ONE TIME investment in cloth diapers and just keep reusing the same 24 over and over again, whereas disposable diapers are disposable (duh) AND there is the environmental cost of MAKING THEM.
5) the first R is reduce, people

So I'd say overall we're really pleased with our decision and find it easy. We have to change the little guy a little more often than we would if he was in a disposable, since it doesn't wick away the moisture, but that's fine, especially when it comes time to train the guy to use a toilet like a regular person. Disposable diapers make it REALLY easy and consequence-free to soil oneself. He's had one case of diaper rash, but babies in disposables get those all the time (maybe even more frequently, because of the lack of breathability.) And the balance of using the 2 disposables at night mean that we reduce our environmental impact AND get a good night's sleep.

Last night Dotytron made us meatball sammies. Using leftover frozen meatballs, simmered in the sauce I froze them with, and baked on the bun in the oven with mozzarella cheese with sautéed brussels sprouts salad (lemon, dijon, pine nuts, olive oil.)

Tonight I made us shrimp'n'grits. I had a polenta/grits revelation. Usually, I don't cook my polenta enough when I do it on the stove top, because it turns into a bubbly, spitty, stovetop destroying thick unmanageable mess. I basically just do it until it's thick and then take it off the stove, which takes like 5 minutes. So I looked up a slow cooker polenta recipe and put everything in the slow cooker and cranked it on high for 3 hours and oh THAT'S what homemade polenta is supposed to taste like. Every corn kernal swollen and airy and puffed up with liquid - the entire mass a smooth, rich, creamy pablum belying the absence of any full fat dairy whatsoever. It was good stuff, I tells you. I think I'm always going to do my polenta/grits like that in the future. I made a tonne - so I'm trying an experiment and leaving the polenta in the slow cooker on warm overnight so that I can eat it with a pat of butter and maple syrup tomorrow morning for breakfast. The shrimp was cooked in a roux-thickened gumbo of sorts with chorizo and okra and the trinity, cajun spice, cayenne, and dried thyme. Delicious:

Tomorrow after work we head out to Geneseo! Now to continue with my interview prep.



Fluffy, Light Buttermilk Pancakes
makes 12-15 large (6" diameter) pancakes
adapted slightly from David Rosengarten's It's All American Food

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 t. (heaping) baking powder
2 t. baking soda
big pinch salt
2 eggs
2 3/4 - 3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. melted butter

- take all the ingredients, and whisk them together. Add the lower amount of buttermilk initially.
- I always let pancake and crepe batters rest for at least an hour before using them
- I prefer to blitz my pancake/crepe batter mixes with a hand blender or in a regular blender and then have the resting time to allow the gluten to relax so that the cakes are tender
- Before serving, give the batter a stir, if it's too thick for your liking, add the extra 1/4 c. of buttermilk in 1 T. increments until you get your desired pancake consistency, with the knowledge that thinner pancake batter produces a lighter, though slightly more difficult to work with, pancake.

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