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Cloth Diapers for Toddlers and Bigger Babies

…because nap time and night time are a long time to go without a potty break.

Although my son wore most of his non-fitted cloth diapers for a very long time (4 months to 24 months), his bigger thighs have rendered most of the smaller cloth one size rather unwearable.

You may have already read my extensive review on cloth diapers and tips for how to care for them.

Since I wrote the cloth diaper review in August 2008, more styles and brands have landed on the market. So, it’s time for an addendum particularly targeting bigger babies and toddlers.

Again, a great benefit of cloth is how it makes babies conscientious of their wetness or diaper fullness, thus encouraging elimination communication at an early age.  Even once your child enters the potty training stage and transitions to underwear during the day, there’s the sleep time periods that require something other than underwear.

My son wore disposable training pants…once.  Never again.  He borrowed a pair from his cousin’s stash.  The extra amount of chemicals (polypropylene, polyethylene, polyacrylate) was irritating to his skin and caused an instant diaper rash.  No thanks.  We’ll stick with cloth.

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Kushies Ultra Lite

Kushies Ultra Lite, $12.49 – $13.99

  • Effectiveness at night: 4/5
  • Aesthetics: 5/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 4/5
  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Maintenance: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Value: 4/5

The  ultra lite is for infants is designed for babies who weigh 10 – 22 pounds, while the toddler-size is for babies who weigh 22 – 45 pounds.

This is a fitted diaper with hook and loop closure tabs using 6 layers of absorbent 100% cotton flannel plus an additional attached flannel soaker that can be folded up (boys) or down (girls). The roomy legs of the toddler version allow my son to run, jump, and walk without a discernible bulky cloth diaper waddle (totally cute in babies, but not desirable in walking and running toddlers). Compared to the Classic Kushies Diaper, the Ultra LIte feature two fewer layers of cloth and a lighter waterproof barrier.

My son used the classic Kushies beginning when he was 8 months old.  They were fantastic–and they were hand me downs used by 2 other children (talk about a long diaper life). I love everything Kushies makes regarding cloth diapers–definitely a workhorse that’s light weight and built to last, plus super easy to clean without pulling out stuffed pockets or removing snappies.

The Ultra Lite diaper is available in variety of fun and mod prints suitable for girl (pinks with brown accents), boy (blues with brown accents), and neutral (greens with brown or multi-color as shown above). As a day use diaper, I found it worked well compared to the majority of other cloth diapers that my son can barely fit into.  The slimmer legs are perfect for mobile babies and toddler.  As a sleep time diaper, I needed to use an extra layer of soaker for my son who is a heavy wetter.  There’s room to add soakers as necessary with this diaper.

Easy to clean since they’re washing machine/dryer friendly, comfortable for my son, and delightful to the eye.

Read product details from Kushies. Purchase Kushies Ultra Lite Diapers.

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Envibum One-Size with absorbency pad $23.99, Absorbency pads $2.99

  • Effectiveness at night: 5/5
  • Aesthetics: 5/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 3/5
  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Maintenance: 4/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Value: 4/5

Envibum’s minkee soft outer features a PUL water barrier lining inside; plus, there’s an unbleached cotton waffle with extra absorbency.  It works like a pocket or with extra flannel soakers on top.  Washer-friendly and line dry to keep this super cute and super soft diaper beautiful for the long haul.  It’s designed to fit the tiniest newborn to a growing toddler for babies weighing 8 to 40 pounds.

The soaker pads are optionally fit with hook and loop closures to keep them in place (no need to deal with stuffing and unstuffing soiled soakers in pockets!)–or you can get them without the hook and loop closure.

Envibum has a high commitment to creating green products that are useful for moms from all walks of life.  This is a very high quality diaper that feels like a super soft stuffed animal.  You’ll want to snuggle your little one in this beautiful diaper.  My son stroked the minkee fabric saying, “So soft!  My diaper!”  It’s definitely his favorite cloth diaper and easily one of mine.

I LOVE that Envibum is owned and operated by a family who gives back $2 toward every all-in-one cloth diaper sale to a non-profit (based on the color of the diaper).  Read more on their giving back page. Available colors include green, pink, red, aqua (each color related to a specific non-profit).

Envibum

Mom4Mom diaper cover $12.99, t-shaped liner $9.99.

  • Effectiveness at night: 3/5
  • Aesthetics: 4/5
  • Lack of bulkiness: 4/5
  • Ease of use: 3/5
  • Maintenance: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5

This is Envibum’s take on prefolds with a cover.  The t-shaped prefold is made from flannel–it’s much less bulky than a rectangular chinese prefold, yet just as absorbent and durable.

Envibum claims you don’t need to use pins or snappies to keep the front flaps of the prefold in place before applying the waterproof, hook and loop closure diaper cover, but I thought it was very hard to keep the prefold in place while applying the cover (and my son is old enough to hold relatively still for diaper time).  Snaps  or hook and loop closures would help with securing the prefold. 

For every Mom4Mom diaper cover purchased, Envibum gives one to another mom in need.  Reading about how moms in third world countries re-use disposable diapers as diaper covers…for months…made my heart heavy.  Learning about the hope that Envibum provides for these moms (there and here in the US) and why they use brown velcro makes me want to support this company with all future cloth diaper purchases.  Period.Read product details from Envibum and purchase diapers.

Note: I received diapers, soakers, and cover samples for the purpose of this review.

Hug the Earth

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

Ancient Native American Proverb

My generation and my son’s generation are at a point where we have lost the art of “waste not, want not.”  The skill set of taking and using only what we need, reusing items for practicality, and being intimately aware of our carbon footprint on the earth is something we must learn. . . chances are, these things have never been demonstrated or taught to us beyond tossing a plastic bottle into a recycling bin.

As a parent, I think the greatest impact I can make to help the future of this planet is to make smart choices about green living every day.

My son won’t learn about green living through a television special or even an educational pamphlet, but he’s going to learn about growing and culling food, cooking from scratch, re-using fabric scraps, avoiding items of waste, and other green practices by learning from his mom and dad.

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I grew up in the eighties where littering on the side of the road was common practice (until the famous Don’t Mess with Texas anti-litter ad campaign put a grinding halt to that mess).

Recycling wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary until I attended a girls’ leadership, math, and science camp where I turned into an eco-activist overnight (with a letter from the city Mayor to thank 11 year-old me for my fervor and passion).

Years later, I’ve toned down my passion and put it into practice with breastfeeding and cloth diapers.  I’ve picked up a few sewing skills to create loving handmade gifts (instead of buying things with wasteful packaging), and I’ve learned some fun options for food preparation and stretching leftovers to improve my family’s health and to stretch our dollars.

Green living may be the “cool” thing to do these days, but if the trend ever swings the other way, I hope that my son appreciates the practicality of being resourceful and thoughtful of the earth.  May he teach his children to leave this place better than they found it.

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National Geographic recently published the Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella.

Printed on recycled fibers, this 400 page reference book gives eco-friendly and budget-friendly tips for raising baby and minimizing your footprint and toy closet.

Chapter 1 includes tips on creating a safe and eco-friendly home to purchasing and making your own household cleaners, parents are armed with tools to have a toxin-free home.

It’s not a super comprehensive guide to cloth diapers, but there’s a basic intro with extra green tips that will help a new parent get started well in this arena in chapter 6.

I like the ideas for eco-friendly holidays, parties and celebrations in chapter 9.  Those are definitely times where pretty packaging and decor lead to unnecessary waste.

Beyond the home, this guide arms families with ways to introduce recycling and reducing toxins in schools  (chapter 8 ) plus how to take “green” vacations (chapter 10).  To urge the next generation to care about green living, chapter 5 is dedicated to that purpose.

Overall, the book is mostly positive toward breastfeeding, but on page 196, it mentions “toxics in breast milk” discussing various chemicals that mom can absorb through skin, environmental contact, or pharmaceuticals that can be passed along to baby via milk.

I thought it was a little unusual that this section of the book states, breast milk can contain toxic substances that have negative consequences to developing babies, leaving some of us to wonder if breast milk could be harming the cognitive development of babies.  All of the chemicals listed below have been found in breast milk and are known to cause cognitive deficits. . . these contaminants are no reason to choose formula, however.

Unfortunately, the editor failed to mention the studies that indicated breastfed babies tested with higher IQ’s than those who weren’t breastfed.  True, she’s referring to the chemicals and decreased IQ, but she links the chemicals directly to breast milk.  By generalizing the statement, she makes it sound as though all breastfed babies are exposed to those chemicals, when in fact, it’s babies who’s mothers are taking prescription medications, using shampoos with phthalates, and around heavy metals and toxins.  I hope that moms on the fence about breastfeeding won’t read this section of the book and think that perhaps they should use formula instead.

There’s a lot of info that’s touched upon in this book, as a result, it skims the surface of some topics that have more detailed options, discussions, and information.  There are no pictures, drawings, or diagrams in this book.  It is purely a text reference.

I hope the future revised edition includes pictures of the different types of cloth diapers, pictures of examples of green baby toys and party decor, and it changes the misleading negative paragraph on breastfeeding.

Otherwise, I think it’s a fairly comprehensive resource to help new parents embark on the journey of green parenting with a great start.

The Green Families Guide retails for $21.95 from National Geographic, and it’s also available through Amazon.com.

Happy Earth Day!

Your turn: How do you teach your child about green living practices?  What’s the easiest (and most difficult) green practice that you do in your home?

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