Monday, May 30, 2011

Use What You Have-Flats Challenge Day 7 Recap

Day 7 Recap
Yesterday turned out to be the final day for Karma in The Flats and Hand Wash Challenge after all.  She has eczema that often flares up really bad in her diaper area.  It flares up in cloth and disposable diapers.  Certain cloth diapers seem to make it worse.  The worst for her to wear are the PUL covers with prefolds (or in this case flats) as they seem to rub and agitate it more.  The inside of her legs and her belly area were just bright red and looked awful.  I let her run around without a diaper for a few hours and put her to bed in a Blissful Booty with a fleece cover.  She looks much better today.  So we failed the final day with her.  I still plan on continuing Kimmy and Sariah in flats today through bedtime and will hand wash their diapers.

Karma's eczema flare up :(
I don't feel like we really failed with her
because if all we had were flats and this happened
I would just let her run around naked for a few days.

Yesterday and today I am also boiling the water I use to hand wash with.  I was talking with a friend about the challenge and she asked why I was even bothering to do it.  I explained to her that it was to prove it was possible for a family to diaper this way but it was also so  I could prove that I could do it this way as well.  I plan to add a package of flats and 5ish covers in our 72 hour emergency kits.  Then if there is ever some sort of disaster and we are out of power for a few days/weeks I can still sustainably cloth diaper the girls.  She pointed out if we had no power we would have no hot water to wash with.  So I was inspired to boil the water.  I am technically boiling it on my electric stove BUT I know I could easily boil it over the fire pit we have if needed.

Use What You Have
When we first started cloth diapering we had very little to work with.  The stash would have been small for 1 tush and we had 3 to cover.  I had to wash a minimum of once a day and more often twice a day to make the stash last the entire day.  So I had to be creative at times using random things we had around the house not only as diapers but also as accessories.

Receiving Blankets, Hooded Towels and T-Shirts
One of the very first things I started using as diapers were receiving blankets, hooded towels and old t-shirts.  In fact, I started using them within the first week.  They were great to supplement in with our stash to help stretch things until I was able to wash and dry the dirties.  Now, I have heard many actually take the time to sew these items into diapers.  I did not have a sewing machine at the time so I literally used the items as is.  I would trifold them and lay them inside of the cover and use just like a prefold.  It worked, they served their purpose well.  Milk Bubbles has a few great tutorials up about how to start cloth diapering for free doing exactly this.  My favorite of hers are the scarf diapers.  I was really wishing I had a cute scarf that I could do the same with but I alas I did not.

Burp Cloths
Everyone has these, in fact if you look closely some of the burp cloths you were given may actually BE flat diapers.  I was not given any of these but I was given many hand made burp cloths that I discovered rather quickly made excellent booster pads.

the burp clothes I used as doublers

I simply folded them down in a smaller trifold and laid them flat on top of whatever I was using as a diaper for that particular change.  They add a few extra layers of absorbency right in the "wet zone" without adding too much bulk over all to the diaper.

burp cloth laid on top of a hooded towel
all ready to use as a diaper. 

Receiving Blankets, Baby Wash Cloths or Old T-Shirts
Yes I already listed 2 of those above but this time I am listing them for the purpose of creating your own cloth wipes.  Baby Wash Cloths make excellent cloth wipes.  Old T-shirts and receiving blankets can be cut up and made into wipes as well.  Now, when I first started I did not have a sewing machine so I cut up these things and just left the edges rough.  It never bothered me.

cloth wipes- you can see the rough edges on the ones I
made myself from receiving blankets.  There are some
baby wash clothes, the pink stripe is an old t-shirt (very soft!)
and there are a few flannel ones made by Rockin Mama

Spray Bottle and Baby Wash
An old spray bottle and some baby wash can create a very simple wipe water for you to use at diaper changes.  Add a little warm water in the bottle, a squirt of the baby wash and viola, wipe water.  Don't try to make too much though as after a few days it starts to smell stale.  I would make up a little bit each morning to use for that day.

Gerber Prefolds
They are useless as actual prefolds on their own.  I received some when Kimmy was first born, I planned to try cloth diapering then but did not do any research on the Internet about them.  I just tried these prefolds and after a week of solid leaks and nothing being contained I stopped.

Gerber prefolds.  Great as doublers, horrible as prefolds!

Once I started up again with all 3 girls last summer I used these as doublers as well.  Again, just trifolded and laid in the center.  They are a great booster pad, horrible on their own!

Ironically, the Gerber flats I used for this challenge were amazing.  I was so impressed with their performance and would definitely recommend them to other moms.  I had to use 2 flats per diaper but still, they worked, they did their job and we did not have any leaks all week.  So Gerber prefolds no good, Gerber flats awesome!

Microfiber Towels
Most have at least 1 microfiber towel in their home already, if not they are fairly inexpensive at places like Walmart.  Karma is a super soaker and after only a few weeks of cloth diapering her I began asking how in the world could I keep her from leaking out all of the time.  Most of my cloth diapering mama friends suggested either hemp or microfiber inserts.  I could not afford to buy any at the time but I did have a few microfiber towels.  Microfiber is not supposed to touch skin so I would place it trifolded inside of a prefold.

microfiber towel on top of a flat

microfiber towel folded up inside of a flat.
Place in a cover and BAM-great diaper!

For the purpose of the Flats Challenge I folded it up inside of a flat.  This actually made a really nice diaper.  Great for overnights and for running errands.  Microfiber is not the best on the hand wash side though.  It can hold onto smells more than the other materials, it was the only item I ever had stink issues with the whole week. (thank goodness for the Purex Crystals!).  It also takes about 2 days to dry hanging up!  I know from past experience it can dry in half a day hanging outside in the sun but we had no sun the entire week.

Fleece PJ Pants, Fleece Zip Up PJS, Fleece Blankets and Wool Sweaters
I think some of you may be thinking to yourselves "Sure, all the above is great to use as diapers but what about covers?"  FLEECE!  Fleece is the answer to that!  Everyone has got to have at least 1 pair of fleece pajama bottoms or a pair of zip up footie PJS, even a fleece blanket somewhere in their home.  Fleece is waterproof and my secret weapon for no leaks at night.  I put the girls to bed in fleece PJs almost every night.  I have a few pairs of fleece PJ pants I plan to cut into shorts for the summer so they are not too hot. If you don't have any pajamas try a fleece blanket, you can tie it on or pin it on.

my go to fleece PJ pants for Karma

Wool is also water proof.  I have not tried wool but many mamas swear by it for night time.  If you have an old wool sweater in your home you can pin that on top of whatever you are using for a diaper, instant cover.

You really do not need covers around the house during the day, these would only be needed at night or when going out.  I even saw a blog post by someone also participating in the challenge (that of course I cannot locate now to link!) that mentioned using plastic shopping bags tied over the flats as covers when she had none that were dry.  It may not be pretty to look at but it would work.  You would only need to do it for a few weeks to a month and then could use the money you saved not buying disposables to buy 1-2 inexpensive covers.

Drying Racks
After only a week of cloth diapering I had stains on the prefolds.  My cloth diapering mama friends told me to sun them.  I had no place to do this though, or so I thought.  I did not own a drying rack or a clothes line.  It didn't take long for me to figure out some alternatives. 

At first I used some decorative lattice things on the front of our home (no idea what they are called).  they work great but because of the direction our house faces they only get sun either early in the am (on the East side of our home) or late in the afternoon/evening (on the West side of our home).  So if I needed to sun in the middle of the day I still had no place to do it. 

decorative lattice things

That's when I thought of using the side of the old crib we had in the attic.  The crib had never had a baby in it (in our home that is, it was given to us when we adopted Karma) and we even lost the hard ware to it when we moved.  I called the company and even though it had not been recalled it was a drop side crib and therefore they were no longer making that particular model and would not sell any replacement parts for it.  I stuck it in the attic because I had no clue what else to do with it.  Now we have 1 side screwed into the wall near the stairs as a "baby gate" and the other we use as a drying rack for diapers.  Recycling is good!

crib rail drying rack.  It was rainy this day
so I had it up on the porch hoping the wind
would help dry the flats faster.  Didn't work!
This was the day I had to get creative with the drying.

My point here is, cloth diapering does not have to be expensive.  You can start it with little to no money.  I see people all over the place who say they just can't afford to start.  There is no rule that says you must start out with a full stash of expensive pocket or AIO diapers.  Yes, these diapers are nice.  Yes, they make diapering easier but there are cheaper alternatives that you can start with.  Then, you can take some of the money you are saving from not buying disposables and slowly build a stash 1 diaper at a time.  This allows you to try a wider variety of diapers and get a better feel for what you like.

Take a look around your house, I bet you have a lot of items you could easily use as a diaper in a pinch.  It does not have to be a matter of "do I buy dinner today or diapers for my baby?".  I know how that feels, we were there.  I was the one who thought cloth diapering was all or nothing.  That I had to jump in with hundreds of dollars to spend.  I didn't realize I could start slow and add a little at a time. 

I know for most the challenge is over now, they are writing their final thoughts and impressions blogs today.  We will continue (with 2 girls that is) through today and will post our final thoughts tomorrow.  I really hope you all come back to check it out.  This experience has been really wonderful for us and we have so much we want to share with you.  I will give you a little sneak peak on it, if I had it all to do over again I would have started cloth diapering with flats and covers instead of prefolds!  I think the flats do a much better job.  That will be my new recommendation for mamas looking to start on a very limited budget.

Until then........

this flats converted mama,


  1. As a pregnant momma wanting to go back to CD, I can't tell you how helpful this challenge has been (to read on so many blogs) and on your blog in particular. I am feeling much more confident about CD!

  2. awww, thanks <3 If you ever have any questions you know you can post in IM and we will help you out :)

  3. So I am new to cding with my ds#3 who is 6m now and I've been using homemade prefolds at night or hooded towels/recieving blankets and burp cloths as doublers. I have tried both motherease covers and thristies duo wraps (which are my fav and all I have now) and was wondering more about using fleece at night? It seems to me that the night diaper is so big and bulky, I was wondering if I used fleece can I cut down on how much extra I use. Do you just put the diaper on with a snappi and then put the fleece pj's on and it will stay dry all night? Does it matter what type of fleece? Any thoughts would be great! Thanks!! BTW, I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks

  4. if you are going to use fleece PJs and not fleece covers I would suggest putting the normal cover on (whatever you would use for daytime) and then the fleece PJs on over that. Thats what I do, of course I am usually too lazy to use the snappi and just trifold everything. I think having a regular cover would help hold the diaper in place better overnight.
    And to answer your question about the fleece, yes it really does work. I have fleece covers but I also use 2 pairs of fleece PJ pants and in the winter i use zip up fleece PJs. I don't think it matters what sort of fleece just make sure its thick and real fleece. It is waterproof though, I was amazed!

  5. thank you for this post. I'm trying to cut back my use of sposies and I had thought about using old receiving blankets (they are too small for anything else but a spit rag anyway) I put my son in his first successful cloth diaper today. We'll see how I did. I had to pin it and I slipped it in a cotton cover I had (I know it isn't waterproof, but I haven't lanolized my wool soakers that I made yet, so I figured It was better than nothing) Now if I can do this for the next two weeks I might be able to get the hubby on board :)


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