Monthly Archives: April 2011

Embrace the Diaper Change: Discovering the Beauty of Cloth Diapering

During my pregnancy, when I first considered cloth diapering my baby-to-be, using cloth was an entirely foreign concept to me, and I’ll admit- a rather intimidating one.

My mind was flooded with questions…how would I wash them?   Which cloth diapers to buy?  Would it be expensive?  How could I possibly remember the name and method of every fold for those flats and prefolds?  How many diapers would I need?  Would my baby’s nursery smell like poo? How would I get the stains out?  Was any of this even worth it when I could just buy a giant box of disposables??

Today, as a seasoned cloth diapering mama, I wonder how I could have had any doubts about my decision.  I love it so much that I may have even become slightly cloth diaper obsessed.  I simply cannot imagine my life as a mother without cloth diapers.

Not only have I mastered every fold, style, shape, and washing method under the sun, but… [brace yourself]…I actually enjoy changing my baby’s diapers.  In fact, I don’t just enjoy it….I love it.

If cloth diapering is a new concept for you, as it once was for me, then I can imagine that you are utterly perplexed and perhaps are even mildly disgusted by this confession of mine.  But believe me…you’ll be there too, probably sooner than you know.

Yes, changing a cloth diaper can be slightly more time-consuming than throwing a dirty disposable into the trash can and throwing a clean one on your baby at lightning speed; and yes, cloth diapering does mean a few extra loads of laundry each week; and yes, there are some stinky, messy moments that must be endured… but in my experience, the benefits for your baby and the joy that you will feel far outweigh any minor inconveniences.

Cloth diapering will turn those dreaded diaper changes into unforgettable moments of love and adoration that you will never forget.

The extra bit of time you spend folding, tying, velcroing, snapping, and adjusting cloth onto your baby becomes time you cherish as you and your baby gaze into each other’s eyes, chat away in baby gibberish that only the two of you understand, laugh together, and exchange knowing glances.   I do this every day, multiple times per day, and often, I become so enthralled with my baby that I forget I am even changing a diaper!

These are the moments to embrace…those wonderful, fleeting moments you share with your baby that fill your heart with a love so strong that you just might burst.  For me, it’s the diaper change that I have come to embrace.  That moment is now, and once it’s gone, I’ll never get back again.

Embrace the diaper change.  It just might become the most beautiful part of your day.

The Truth About Plastics & How to Create a Safer World for Your Baby

In a perfect world, babies and plastic would never mix.   Babies would travel in wooden car seats inside of wooden wagons pulled by horses; mothers would wear their babies in slings and wraps while harvesting their gardens and preparing homemade meals; and babies would drink from bottles made of glass and chew on toys made of wood and organic cotton.

Wait…this sounds way too much like an era gone by.  How do we fit this concept into today’s modern society?   Unfortunately, in the real world of today, babies + plastic is actually quite a common mix, despite the widely known health risks.  Eliminating all plastic from our babies’ world proves to be quite a nearly unattainable feat.

There are small steps, however, that parents can take to at least reduce, if not eliminate, their babies’ exposure to the world of plastic.  First, it’s important to understand what we’re dealing with here:

A few of the Dangers of Plastic & Other Synthetic Toys:

  • Many plastic toys still contain Bisphenol A (BPA):  This is a dangerous toxin that exists in plastic that is used to make plastic clear, hard, and less breakable.   BPA can leach out of plastic and be ingested by infants.  Some research has found that BPA can affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in infants and children.  Canada and the EU have already banned its use in baby bottles.  BPA can mimic estrogen that can disrupt the function of your baby’s developing hormones.
  • Some plastic toys still contain Phthalates:  Phtlalates add flexibility to plastics and are used to soften plastic for baby items such as teethers and rubber duckies.  This substance can cause hormone disruption and has been linked to cancer in mice and rats (Rider 71).  As of February 2009, the US has banned the use of six phthalates in the concentration of more than 0.1% in children’s toys or articles that “a child 3 and younger would use for sleeping, feeding, sucking or teething.”  However, there are still many plastic toys that contain other phthalates.  Be sure to check the label or contact the manufacturer to see if the toy contains phthalates.
  • Many “Wood” Toys are Actually Plywood or Particleboard:  Be very careful when buying wooden toys, because not all of them  are made from natural pieces of wood, but rather from plywood or particleboard held together with toxic glues and that have finishes such as petrochemical sealers, paints, preservatives, and pesticides.   Avoid “wooden” toys that have a strong smell and do not let your baby chew on them (Rider 71).
  • Many Plush Toys are made from Synthetic Materials:  They look soft and loveable (and chewable!), but unless otherwise stated, they are most likely made from synthetic materials that contain similar toxic residues that many plastic toys do.  The stuffing of such toys often includes flame retardant chemicals as well.  For a safer, healthier alternative, look for toys made from organic cotton stuffed with organic cotton or organic wool.

This is frightening, to say the least.  Something must be done about this plastic world in which our babies live.  As parents, what can we do to reduce these risks?

There are a few simple steps you can take toward a less plastic world for your baby:

  • Purchase toys that are safe.  We all have to put our babies in plastic car seats from time to time, but we do have full control over what types of toys our babies play with and put into their mouths.  Reducing and replacing plastic toys and teethers with natural wooden toys and organic cotton or wool toys and dolls is a pretty easy solution and is fairly inexpensive as long as your focus is quality rather than quantity.  If possible, purchase toys made only from unfinished wood, wood painted and finished with non-toxic substances, organic cotton, organic wool or natural rubber.
  • Check labels on baby products.   If you must buy plastic toys, bottles, or teethers, always look for these labels:  BPA Free, PVC free, Phtlalate free.  If you don’t see the label, don’t buy it.
  • Spend quality time with your baby. This one can be surprisingly challenging, especially in today’s society, and especially when working, inside or outside of the home.  Our society has us convinced that we must have the latest, trendiest bouncers, carseats, strollers, jumparoos, walkers, activity gyms, “educational” computer programs, etc.  These devices all have two things in common:  a) The majority are made from plastic; and b) They are designed to “free” you of your baby so that can go about living and working as you did before baby came along.  I simply do not see the logic in this.  Instead of plopping your baby into a plastic babysitting device, invest in a good sling or other type of baby carrier and try wearing your baby as you get things done.  Instead of plopping your baby in front of the TV or computer screen, sit down on the floor and play or read to your baby.  The positive impact on your baby from real human interaction is immeasurable.

Babies are simple creatures with basic needs.  Why not create for them a world of simplicity, filled with love, real human interaction, and safe toys to play with?  They won’t miss a thing.

References:

“Section 108: Products Containing Certain Phthalates.”  US Consumer Product Safety Commission: Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  16 March 2011 http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/108faq.html

Rider, Kimberly.  Organic Baby: Simple Steps for Healthy Living. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

“Six Tips for Choosing Safe Toys.”   Organic Baby Resource.  16 March 2011.  http://www.organic-baby-resource.com/safe-toys.html

“Your Baby’s Environment.”  March of Dimes, 2009.  16 March 2011.    http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/faq_plasticbottles.html