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Cloth Diapering a Newborn

Baby wearing an old-fashioned vintage cloth diaper with pins

We were all cloth diaper newbies at one time or another although cloth diapering a newborn comes as natural to me these days as brushing my teeth; I've been at it that often and that long. Sigh...many loads of laundry have passed since I took a crash course in cloth diapering 101. In fact, when I had my first baby I had quite a few boxes of disposables in my stash since I was still working full time and had read that using cloth diapers were not going to solve the planet's environmental problems.
A baby wearing a bulky, old-fashioned cloth diaper.

Yes, I was all ready to wrap my baby girl's bottom in a disposable diaper until her sensitive skin that was already broken out in (what we believed to be at the time) eczema added diaper rash to the mix. At my wit's end, research convinced me that it would be wiser (and CHEAPER) to diaper with organic cotton.

As a cloth diapering newbie, I had SO MANY questions about cloth diapers. Here's the short list stuff I wanted and needed to know:
  • What kind of cloth diaper should I buy?
  • What was the best brand of diaper
  • Where could I find deals on cloth diapers to ease the initial investment
  • How do you wash baby poop out of cloth diapers? Would I have to swish them in the (GAG) toilet bowl?
  • What kind of detergent is best to use when washing cloth diapers?

Old-fashioned, vintage baby ducky, yellow duck diaper pins.

And I'm sure there were many, many more including a real dumb one; How do you secure the diaper on the baby? Do you still use those old-fashioned safety pins?

Yes, I was perhaps worse than a cloth diapering newbie; I was a cloth diapering IDIOT! You may be curious as to why I knew absolutely nothing about cloth diapering a newbown but you see, I never held a baby until I held my own. There were no babies in my family when I was a kid. The only babies I saw getting their diapers changed were on TV and the cameras tend to not do closeups of the business end of a diaper change so my early education in Cloth Diapering 101 was sketchy at best.

As you might imagine, making the jump from using disposable diapers to a full-on campaign of diapering with cloth was kind of scary. And then came the opinionated in-laws to throw a guilt trip on me.

Their rants covered everything from "Do you know how much all those cloth diapers are going to cost?" and "Who's going to wash all those diapers?" to "Are you turning into some kind of a fanatic?".

Their generation apparently believes that disposables are the best invention since sliced bread but what do they know? They are the geniuses that over-dosed us all on antibiotics which is most likely the reason my husband and daughter have MRSA!

So that YOU will not have to go through the torment that I did, I'm going to post a complete series of instructions to show you how to cloth diaper a newborn and share the answers to all of the questions that I had in very beginning. I was thinking of calling the series Cloth Diapering for Dummies but that's kind of insulting. My moms are NOT dummies so I'm calling it Claire's Cloth Diapering a Newborn 101 so stay tuned!


Water Saving Landscaping Ideas

Water saving landscaping ideas

Water is for humans, not the yard especially during droughts! However, by using some of the water saving landscaping ideas on this page you may not have every blade of grass turn brown or lose all of your plants every summer.

One of the best ways to not be tempted to waste water watering your yard and plants in the landscape is to plant drought resistant plants. Learn more aabout xeriscaping, mulch all landscaped beds and plant native species.

To give you an idea of how much of our precious water supply is wasted outdoors; reports estimate that in the United States over half of residential water used is used to maintain landscape and lawns. That's pretty sad for a country that I believe to be one of the greatest on the planet!

One of the ways that we can make that number (and citizens of North America) look better is to religiously engage in xeriscaping. This practice can reduce use of water to maintain landscaping by as much as 50 to 75%.

What is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is the name give to a style of landscaping specifically designed to save water. These methods are nothing new. In fact they have been used for centuries to grow food in areas prone to drought conditions. It finally dawned on some landscape designer that xeriscaping might be something of interest to the modern homeowner.

The benefits are many! Xeriscaping:

  • saves water
  • saves money
  • is low-maintenance

The drawbacks are truly not worthy of consideration but I will give you the main objections of those who hold back. Xeriscaping:
  • often involves (what some perceive to be) less attractive plants

There you have it; the only negative is that native plants are not as exciting as plant species that were never meant to be in drought stricken areas to begin with. People should not be planting ferns where cactus grow naturally; get it?

If you landscaped your lawn long before you heard of Xeriscaping, chances are that your bushes and plants are established and no longer require as much watering as they once did. Rather than dig everything up and start over, the next best thing is to mulch like your life depended on it! Don't laugh! Our lives DO depend on having enough fresh water to drink.

If you have any profound water saving landscaping ideas that you would like to share with readers of my green living blog, please drop them in the comments section! We would also appreciate tips on where we might see pictures of areas landscaped using native or drought resistant plants so post the address if you know of any that we should see!


The Conservation of Water

Drought stricken cracked earth.

The subject of the importance of the conservation of water came up recently at a new parents meeting. I wasn’t prepared to field questions about how to conserve water since the meeting was about easy steps for having a green home and a chemical free, organic baby nursery.

But since we are smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest summers on records, with a record number of states suffering through either a full on drought or drought-like conditions I decided that there would be no harm in venturing slightly away from my notes (that had tips on reducing chemical exposure in the family home) to focus on current events. I’m posting some of the FAQs and tips I offered to the audience below.

What is conservation of water?
Water conservation is nothing more than saving water. There are many, may ways of doing so on both a large and small scale. Each and every person can do some small part from not wasting water by leaving the faucet running while you are brushing your teeth to the CEO of major corporations searching for ways to manufacture products with less water.

Why is it important that we conserve water? We have plenty! After all the earth is literally covered in ocean water.
Yeah, we have plenty of salt water, which should be great news for you if you are a fish. What we don’t have enough of is unpolluted, fresh water suitable for drinking by humans and we especially have very limited water resources during record heat waves.

Here are 5 easy ways to save water at home.

Save money and time by washing a sinkful of dirty dishes in the dishwasher!
1. Dish washing techniques with the conservation of water in mind.

If you have a dishwasher fire it up and use it! The automatic dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. To be sure that you don’t counteract your savings, don’t use the extended, pot scrubber cycle unless it is necessary and do not pre-rinse.
If you hand wash, do NOT rinse the soap off each dish. As you wash, load each dish in a wire, in sink rack and use your sprayer or a pitcher of water to rinse them all at one time.

2. During a heat wave, it’s inadvisable to wash your car at all. Wash the windshield if you must, but let washing the body of the car wait until the water shortage is over. Even then, it’s best to use an automatic car wash over washing with a hose in your driveway. If you prefer the old-school method, install a sprayer on the end of your water hose that will shut off the flow of water when you don’t need it.
Don't play in the water or wash your car during a heat wave!

3. Getting clean without wasting water is so easy, just take shorter showers or keep the water level in your bathtub low. Showers feel so darn good it’s easy to fall into a habit of enjoying the spray for much longer than we should. To be sure you don’t stay too long in the stall, set an egg timer and step out when it dings. If you want to be really fancy, buy a special timer that sticks to the wall of your shower.
To give you an idea of how shaving those minutes off the length of your shower time pays off; consider that anywhere from 20-40 gallons of fresh water goes down the drain every 5 minutes. OUCH! When I think of how much water I’ve wasted, I feel so ashamed!

4. Water is for humanity not your yard.

I, personally, have a problem with people who water their yards any time much less when the conservation of water is so important. What’s more important, that we have water to drink or that they have a lawn like a golf course (chemicals and all but that’s another article).

5. Cover your swimming pool when you aren’t swimming in it!

Who knew that swimming pool cover was good for more than just keeping leaves and your neighbor’s Labrador out of the pool? Your pool cover keeps you from having to add water to your pool that was lost to evaporation. During times of low humidity or windy conditions, pop the pool cover on top.

Most of the tips for saving water in your home are virtually pain free other than the last one; dragging a pool cover around can be aggravating when you’re ready to go swimming. But even if there is no painless path towards the conservation of water, since we can’t live without it, it’s worthwhile to do what we can to be sure that there’s always a drink of water ready and waiting when we open the tap.