Cloth Diaper Thurs: Applecheeks

Last year after receiving a number of free cloth diapers at BlogHer 2011, I started a feature on the blog called “Cloth Diaper Thursdays” where I review cloth diapers that I have tried recently or talk more about my cloth diapering journey. For more cloth diapering posts, make sure you check out my contributing posts to CottonBabies blog as well.

I received the Applecheeks 2-size envelope cover and insert in Size 2 from Beth from Me as a Mommy while at BlogHer 2012 this year, and am just now getting around to writing a review! I’d heard a lot about this brand, which is made by a small company in Canada. The envelope diaper works just like a pocket, with the pocket opening in the middle instead of at the front or back (see picture, above).

First impression: the Applecheeks diaper is so plush and soft! The leg elastic is significantly gentler than other diapers I have tried as well. Not sure how this will wear in the long term, would it make the leg openings looser?

One major difference between this diaper and the other diapers I’ve tried: the pocket opening being in the middle. I didn’t think much about it until Little Lady pooped in the diaper. As you might know, I am a HUGE fan of my diaper sprayer. When I went to spray the poop, the location of the opening caused me to be spraying poop INTO the pocket half the time. I was a little taken aback by this and asked Amy Appleton, founder of Applecheeks, what they recommend to resolve this issue.

Here’s some more info about the Applecheeks diaper and poop spraying from Amy:

We strongly recommend using our fantastic flushable liners with the AppleCheeks envelope cover. Not only is this less messy than a sprayer but it also ensures the diapers does not sit totally saturated until wash day. If you feel you must use a sprayer, be sure to hold the diaper from the FRONT of the cover so that the overlap is such that the cover will remain closed. If you hold it from the back it will indeed just open right up.

Make sense? In my case, this means I just need to make sure I always use a liner with the Applecheeks diaper because I was unable to figure out how to spray effectively to avoid spraying poop back into the diaper.

In summary:

Very soft!
Gentle leg elastic
Well made, high quality diaper
Snaps – always love snaps!
Insert is very thick & absorbent
You could use any brand insert in the pocket, versatile

The pocket opening being in the middle (only for me – not everyone will see this as a disadvantage)
Cost of flushable liners add to the cost of the diaper

Regarding the “cons”, you can also make your own liners out of old t-shirts, old kitchen towels, etc., spray the poop off and wash with your diapers, which completely eliminates the cost and waste factor associated with flushable liners. I have made some reusable liners of my own out of an old jersey material pillowcase and they work great.

Overall, I will still be putting this diaper in regular rotation and it looks super cute on Little Lady’s little bum!

Rating: 4 out of 5

#clothdiapers: GoGreen Champ vs BumGenius elastic replacement

It’s not even Thursday and I’m talking cloth diapers! I had to post because I have some interesting info for cloth diaper pros: last night I found one major differences between my favorite cloth diapers, the GoGreen Champ and the BumGenius 4.0 One-Size. As you may or may not remember, I’ve been cloth diapering now for a little over 2 years, and during the last year I’ve had two babies in cloth diapers simultaneously. This is, of course, quite a beating on the diapers – the PUL, the hook and loop, and the elastic. Fortunately, both these brands of diapers have held up great as far as PUL. I have had to replace all the hook and loop on the BumGenius (which were fully 2 years old or more), but it really wasn’t too difficult – just time-consuming.

Minor differences first: for a while, the GoGreen Champ was one of my favorite diapers because a) they have double leg gussets, and b) they were my first diapers with snaps. Now that I’ve started acquiring some BumGenius snaps, though, I find that the BG snaps are actually less intimidating to childcare/daycare/relatives than the typical cloth diaper snaps because there are only 2 snaps instead of 3, and they are placed in a location on the diaper that is similar to hook and loop placement (and therefore, similar to disposables). That’s definitely a score in favor of the BumGenius – snaps last longer than hook and loop and I can bring them to childcare/Mother’s Day Out. However, the two diaper brands were still on pretty much equal footing until last night.

BumGenius 4.0,
elastic easily accessible

Here is what swung the pendulum for me: GoGreen Champ diapers have the leg elastic literally sewn into the leg. As in, you cannot replace the leg elastic because there is stitching through the elastic, inside the casing. This is kind of a game changer for anyone who plans to use the diapers for more than 2 years. After 2 years, elastic on pretty much any cloth diaper loses it’s elasticity and the legs of your diapers will start to gape and therefore leak. When BumGenius released the 4.0 diaper, they made the leg elastic easily accessible without having to even open a seam. You just snip the old and sew on the new. I’ve done several replacements on BG 4.0’s and it’s a breeze! FuzziBunz are even easier, if you’re interested.

I did manage to sew new elastic over top of the old elastic on the GoGreen Champ, but it’s a messy job and isn’t seamless in any sense of the word. It yielded some bumpiness that I don’t love. You also have to cut through the PUL casing around the legs, which is going to cause some leakage and eventually will render the diapers unusable. This was a temporary solution for me and I would not recommend it. What most people would have to do is probably actually throw out a GoGreen Champ diaper when the leg elastic goes, or sell the used diaper to someone who wants to try and go through the trouble of adding new elastic.

The inner double leg gussets on the GoGreen Champ, while nice for containing poop, are another replacement issue. You can’t replace the leg gusset elastic either without damaging the PUL. Now that I’ve rigged a temporary replacement of the leg elastic, the inner leg gusset is much more saggy than the legs. All kinds of weirdness in fit now, and the leg gussets are rendered pretty much useless.

In conclusion, I used to recommend GoGreen Champ on equal, or sometimes better, footing than the BumGenius 4.0 but now I definitely won’t.

Have you found some way to replace the leg elastic on your GoGreen Champ? If so, I’d love to hear about it and be able to retract this post! It’s a great diaper otherwise.

NOTE: Obviously, I did not receive any free product in exchange for the mention of these brands and diapers. As you know, I do write for the CottonBabies blog, which I choose to do because I love and believe in their products.


Potty training and cloth diapers

I’ve been making a huge effort in the last week not to cover my blog in potty learning updates as we’ve been working with Little Sir to use the potty. However, if you follow me on Twitter you have definitely be inundated by updates. Sorry about that.

#pottytraining: guess who pooped in the potty & had NO pee accidents today?! This guy!

I’ll be doing a more in-depth outline of our methodology later – both on this blog and on the CottonBabies blog. Suffice it to say that we are not following any program exactly, it’s something we have kind of made up as we go along to fit Little Sir’s preferences and our family. I am sure it’s a very AP-type tactic – go with your heart, blah blah blah. And I’m sure we’ll use completely different methodology when we start Little Lady on potty learning.

I do have one quick thing to say about potty training and cloth diapers. I was told back in the pre-baby days, as I researched cloth diapers, that cloth would help my child potty train earlier and easier because he or she can feel wetness when wearing cloth diapers. The logic is that the child isn’t going to like being wet and will therefore be more likely to want to learn to use the potty and less likely to have accidents in their underwear.

Unfortunately, the feeling-the-wetness aspect of cloth diapers kind of backfired on us.

It’s true that Little Sir could tell when he was wet. One of the ways I knew he was ready to use the potty is that he was starting to come to me and ask for diaper changes:
Him: “Need a diaper change!”
Me: “Do you have poop?”
Him: “No, just pee”

When we started the first potty-training day, he refused to go naked as most programs suggested. He insisted on wearing something on his lower half, and he was very enthusiastic about his “racecar underwear” which he had picked out at the store. This is where the wetness aspect didn’t help us.

Instead of being shocked and uncomfortable when he peed in the underwear, it was normal for him. He was accustomed to feeling wet! No biggie. Why would I stop playing and go sit on the potty when I always feel wet when I pee? Gah. We had to explain to him over and over that wet underwear is NOT OK. What we want is to have dry underwear. He was clearly seeing underwear as just another form of cloth diaper, because even when it was dry he wanted a new pair after going to the potty. He just saw it as a cloth diaper change. Awesome.

Most likely, this is not the norm. I know by now that Little Sir tends to be the exception and not the rule. Most kids will accept being naked. Most kids will not enjoy being wet. He is just never like “most kids”.

The good news is, he’s really doing well so far. He understood after about a day that dry underwear is preferable (also there were bribes involved). He goes in the potty several times a day and has only a few accidents.

We’re having a lot of trouble with going in unfamiliar pottys when we’re out, though, so if you have any advice there – I’m all ears!

Cloth diaper Thurs: washing for two in cloth

It’s a been a while since I did an update on our cloth diaper washing routine. I thought I’d post our most recent iteration for those of you wondering about cloth diapering two children at the same time. It’s true that our routine for two in cloth diapers is different than just one. For one thing, I only had to strip our diapers about every 6-8 weeks when I had only one child. Now that there are two of them, I have to strip them about every 3 weeks. If you aren’t sure what I mean by stripping, please read my post about how we all need to be stripping.

So I’ll skip the stuff about stripping the diapers, which happens only occasionally, and go straight to the everyday washing.

When the diaper comes off the child, I spray the poop (if there is any) and put the diaper into a dry Mommy’s Touch or PlanetWise wet bag in a regular trash can. I also throw our cloth wipes in there. These are the same 2 wet bags and the same trash can that I started out with 2.5 years ago. Nothing wrong with any of them, still working great! For the most part, there is really no odor in the pail. I do keep an Arm and Hammer baking soda pouch in the pail, which I have rigged to be refillable. If the pail itself gets stinky, I spray it with a mixture of tea tree oil and water and set it out in the sunlight. The only smell problem I ever have is the trash can I keep next to the diaper pail, which holds disposables. I do not understand how people can throw away disposables inside their house – those things STINK!

When the diaper pail/wet bag is full (about every other day since I have around 25 diapers in my stash), I take the whole thing out and dump it directly into our front-loading HE washing machine. I do not really ever touch the diapers themselves, unless one starts to slide back out the door (ew!).

I am still using Charlie’s Soap, which I get on Subscribe And Save through Amazon. I do love Rockin’ Green, but it’s just too much more expensive than Charlie’s, and we’ve never had any trouble with Charlie’s. I also use it for all our clothes.

It goes like this: one “Quick Wash” Hot/Cold cycle, which I use as a pre-rinse. Then a full Heavy-Duty Hot/Cold cycle with Charlie’s Soap. Every other load, I add a half scoop of Bio Kleen Oxygen Bleach Plus. I started doing this because it turns out that my HE machine water does not get hot enough to fully sanitize the diapers.

That’s it for washing! I line dry the covers, either outside on our clothesline or on a rack indoors in our garage. I throw the inserts, wet bag(s) and cloth wipes into the dryer.

So it’s actually really fast and easy! The most tedious part is re-folding all the diapers afterward. Just like folding any laundry, really.

How do you wash your diapers?

We should all be stripping!

We should be stripping clothdiapers more

Cloth diapering parents, I had no idea that so many of you were dealing with stink issues that I can solve for you! The first thing I ask when someone tells me they’re dealing with stinky diapers is: how often do you strip your diapers?

I have been shocked lately how many have responded with some variation of “Um, never?”.
Parents!! What are you doing?!! We need to be stripping regularly!!

Why do you need to strip?
Here’s the lowdown: even cloth diaper-approved detergents leave some degree of residue on cloth fibers. Considering how often your diapers are washed, after several weeks (maybe as long as a few months if you’re diapering only one child or have a large stash) that buildup is sitting on top of the cloth fibers. The result is 1) leaking because the fibers are coated with residue and cannot absorb, and 2) stink, because basically the stink is trapped inside the coated fibers. YUCK!

Stripping is easy!
There are several ways to do it, but I prefer the Dawn method. By this, I mean Dawn dish detergent, the Original formula. All you do is wash your diapers as usual, and then run an additional wash cycle with Dawn instead of laundry detergent. For a top loading (old school) machine, you’d use 1-2 tablespoons of Dawn. For an HE machine, 1-2 teaspoons. My HE machine only requires 1 teaspoon. After you’ve run the cycle, stick your head inside the washing machine. If you still smell Dawn, run another rinse cycle (for an HE machine that doesn’t have a rinse cycle, just run a short cycle without adding anything) until you don’t smell it anymore. The diapers should smell completely neutral.

That’s it! See how easy it is?

Go! Do it NOW!