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Displaying items by tag: kids how to make simple changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle? Have you wondered where to buy your organic food and goods locally? Or how to be more energy efficient? Do you know what is recyclable in Belgium? We do - or we know someone who does! This site is intended to be an information rescource and focal point for ecologically minded people living in and around Brussels. Please revisit the site often, because we update it on a regular basis. http://sunbeams.eu Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:30:55 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Biodiversity and Children http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/223-biodiversity-and-children http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/223-biodiversity-and-children Biodiversity and Children

What could be more rewarding than spending some time with your children observing life in your garden (or even your balcony or park)? Whether it is planting some seeds and watching them grow into veggies, or watching butterflies visit a flower and roll out their long “straw” to drink nectar, if you just take the time, your garden will give your children a moment of internal quietness while they witness amazing buzzing activity.

Before you start, try to make enough free time in order to enjoy nature’s activities with the family. With a bit of patience and flexibility, you can involve even small kids in the preparation phase and pick and choose your favourite activities:

1. Give your children their own little plot of land or their own plant container. Ownership is important here! No mum/dad or big sibling needs to interfere in the young child’s personal approach when it comes to gardening! A little freedom can create miracles (be prepared to bite your tongue if it does not look pretty or neat)!

2. Find some easy, fast-growing plant seeds which the children can also enjoy, such as giant sunflowers (they grow taller than dad), sweet peas (nice to harvest and eat right away) or the edible nasturtium (the tall growing 3-4m ones). Make it into a routine to check the process daily and talk the waiting time away with stories and riddle games about nature and by looking at nature books...

3. Small-sized garden tools and little gloves can make it into a special moment, working alongside mum or dad!

4. Planting indigenous bushes and flowers which attract butterflies, bumblebees, and bees (see our 4 language-list on our website www.sunbeams.eu) can make your patch of land into a feast for the eyes and nose. You can easily find nature books and websites which can help you and your kids to learn all about local species.

5. Do not forget to leave a patch of land to nature: the host plants for butterfly eggs and larvae are often called “weeds” by humans. Sowing some wild flower seeds in between makes it look very pretty. Leaving some piles of wood and stones will offer shelter for them as well!

6. Making your garden into a haven for birds is very rewarding: shrubs for birds to hide from predators, bushes with berries for their food (go for the local species), a little pond or water area, all of these will make a huge difference. Extra feeding is only necessary in winter time (November-February), but water is always welcome.

7. Hedgehogs and rabbits might visit your garden if you leave a space in and/or under the fence/wall/hedge of your garden for them to pass through.

8. And of course, it is not ideal to use pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides when you have children around. There are many alternatives available: e.g. eco-labelled garden products, homemade potions (internet!), or rediscover some old wisdom by combining the right plants to keep away insects (e.g. permaculture techniques).

9. A little pond with a shallow slope will automatically bring guests and permanent inhabitants: salamanders and frogs will find their way to your garden (do not get eggs from other places as these might bring with them the wrong bacteria for your local amphibians), and all kinds of dragonflies will become regular visitors!

10. Planting a domestic tree is a lovely thing to do with kids (local species can be found on our website in several languages)! Make sure you plant them in the right season (October to March) and that you find the right spot for them to grow big!

11. Last but not least: composting. There is no better educational process to observe with your children: the complete cycle! Involve your children in composting your kitchen waste, putting it into the right bin, bringing it outside in a little bucket, adding the right green and brown layers, maybe some more water or cardboard and watching the worms do all the work. Then, finally to end the cycle, add the compost to their little garden to make their next season seeds grow tall....

Enjoy!

If you want to know more about what you can do for biodiversity take a look at the special page on our website www.sunbeams.eu or at the suggested activities with children on this page.

The Sunbeams Team

A few nice addresses:

    • Toy shops such as e.g. Nature et Découvertes (www.natureetdecouvertes.be)Woluwe Shopping Centre, City 2 and Esplanade in Louvain-la-Neuve) and Lokilino (Tervuren) offer many ideas for nature activities;
    • Webshop of Vivara (www.vivara.be) gives a commission fee to nature organisations like Natuurpunt (www.natuurpunt.be ) and Vogelbescherming (www.vogelbescherming.be );
    • Some English bookshops have a good selection of nature books for kids, e.g. Treasure Trove (Tervuren).

Activities with kids:

www.naturalsciences.be: Many activities for the whole family including an exhibition on biodiversity in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

 

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Articles Thu, 28 Jun 2012 19:11:39 +0000
Mobility with Kids http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/221-mobility-with-kids http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/221-mobility-with-kids Mobility with Kids

I live less than 300 metres from a large grocery shopping complex.  Due to my lack of a driver's license, this proximity to the shops was of primary concern when we chose our house (right behind price!).  Yet shortly after moving in, I realised that my dream of popping up at the shops to do the weekly re-stocking of groceries had turned into a nightmare for one reason - the kids. 

In my dream, I had never bothered to work out the seemingly impossible logistics of transporting three small children (at the time, all under 5), four large bags of shopping and my own, increasingly lagging morale, for 300 metres.  What had initially seemed a hop, skip and jump from the house was suddenly more daunting than a marathon.  Finally, after yet another epic excursion with me trying in vain to strap babies to my body, toddler in pushchair, bags of groceries to said pushchair and still have a hand free to escort the five-year-old across the road, I decided to take action.  With persistence, I came up with three possible solutions: the bike trailer, the bike wagon (bakfiets in Dutch) or a Radio Flyer-type pull wagon.

A bike trailer is a sort of cart that can be attached to nearly any standard adult bike.  Most trailers can fit a maximum of two children and have a small "boot" area in the rear.   Some models can be transformed into a three-wheeled pushchair as well, albeit a large and cumbersome one.  Bike trailers have several advantages: they are reasonably priced (a dedicated eBay search can find new models costing around 200 euro including transport), they are (usually) easily removed from your bike when you aren't bringing the kids for a ride, they are a convenient method of transporting more than one child at a time and they are remarkably stable.  Bike trailers are built so that even if the bike tips over, the trailer stays upright.  They also provide shelter from the elements for the children - but unfortunately not the cyclist!  Finally, they can be used with very young babies, provided you install a proper baby seat.  Some models will accommodate a Maxi-Cosi-type seat, but there is usually room for only one of these.  A more practical option is the baby-seat designed for cycling with a trailer.  These are very popular in The Netherlands where they are called a "babyschaal" and common brands include the Melia, Weber and Chariot.  Several online shops offer transport to Belgium.

However, there are some other considerations when deciding on a bike trailer.  First, make sure the model you choose will fit through any doors you will need to pass through to get it from where you are storing it to the street!   Even with the wheel guards removed, a bike trailer is wider than most things you are likely to try getting out of the front door.  You will also want to make sure you have adequate space to store it; unlike a collapsible buggy, once it is constructed, you are unlikely to want to completely dismantle the contraption after each use.  You will likely also want a basket and saddle bags for your bike; the "boot" space in a trailer is far from spacious.  Safety is another concern.  Although trailers are stable, they do "trail" behind the bike and the not-so-vigilant driver might not notice their presence.  The best way to mitigate this is to attach a flag to the trailer and to swallow your pride and just walk the thing across the zebra crossing.  And of course, strap a helmet on yourself and your passengers.  Finally, even the lightest bike trailer can become agonisingly heavy when loaded with kilos of toddler, baby, shopping, nappy bag, etc.  If you are serious about doing the shopping with a bike trailer, and you aren't in the running for “World's Strongest Parent,” make sure your bike has gears.  And as you sweat your way up the hill, remind yourself how much money you are saving on gym memberships!

A bike wagon attached to the front of an adult bike is one way to avoid the risk of drivers not noticing the children they are dragging around.  Most drivers are bound to see it coming, especially if you have invested in one of the attractive pioneer-style canopies to protect your urchins from the meteorological elements.  But investment is the key word here.  These wagons do not come cheap - expect to pay at least 500 euro.  And because they are not as easily removed from the bike as a trailer, if you want to do any cycling without the wagon, you're going to need a second bike.  Due to their impressive size, locking them up can be a logistical challenge.  However, for all that, they ooze old-world charm.  And you'd be hard-pressed to find a kid that didn't want a ride.

For those not inspired to join the "peloton" of urban-chic cyclist mommies, why not try a simple pull wagon?  Sure, they can be a little large and unwieldy, but imagine the fun of trekking out to the shops with the kids able to hop in and out as often as their little hearts desire (or as often as mommy feels inclined to stop and wait for them to clamber in/out, again).  And unlike the tipsy pushchair, you don't need to worry that your hoard of groceries (or whatever) is going to cause Junior to do a backflip the second you let go of the handlebars.  Again, you're going to need space to store it, and it isn't the most practical option for the baby who can't sit unaided, but for those of us with toddlers and pre-schoolers ,it can add a dash of sanity to the chaos that is shopping with children.

In the end, I chose a bike trailer and invested in two special seats: one for the newborn baby (Melia Babyschaal 0-8 months) and one for the toddler (Melia Babyschaal 8-18 months).  The seats were a pain to install, but once in, were sturdy and, what with their faux-sheepskin coverings, provided the itsy-bitsies with luxurious first-class travelling quarters.  I use the trailer for nearly all distances under 6 km and within six months it had paid for itself with money saved on tram and bus tickets.  And the best bit: I didn't feel guilty about that bar of chocolate - surely I'd earned it! 


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Articles Thu, 28 Jun 2012 18:59:07 +0000
yoga kids http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/component/k2/item/91-yoga-kids http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/component/k2/item/91-yoga-kids

yogakids

YogaKids is a unique approach to integrative learning using yoga as a pathway. Reading, music, creative arts and earthcare blend seamlessly with yoga movement to educate the "whole" child. The YogaKids curriculum provides children, from the ages of 5 to 12, with an exciting new way to explore and appreciate their creative potential. Children learn invaluable skills that set the groundwork for meeting challenges and growing strong physically, mentally and emotionally, cultivating self-esteem for a lifetime of successful achievement.

Yogakids has recreated traditional yoga techniques in playful, simple and fun ways. Using the Multiple Intelligences Theory of Harvard educator Howard Gardner as a foundation, each pose becomes a springboard for activities that open the doorway to fully integrated learning. We hiss like snakes when we do the cobra pose and squawk in the eagle pose.

The dog pose is always a favorite because, not only do we bark, we also walk around the room on all fours and cock our legs, "pssssss!" That gets everyone laughing. There's a serious purpose too. When we do the flamingo pose, for instance, we talk about their ecology (what flamingos eat, where they live, why their feathers are pink). I also teach basic anatomy so the children can understand how their bodies work, and how they're building strength, flexibility and coordination through yoga. YogaKids creates the ultimate learning adventure while helping youths de-stress and relax. If you'd like to learn more about YogaKids, please do not hesitate to contact me or visit the website: www.yogakids.com

Please contact Courtenay Willis for more details on her course in Tervuren: courtenay11@telenet.be or give her a call on 0479/46 55 18.

text provided by yogakids

 


If you think you could help us realise our goals or would like to contribute or cooperate in some way please contact us

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Pages Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:58:44 +0000
Re-usable nappies http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/14-re-usable-nappies http://sunbeams.eu/index.php/information/our-articles/item/14-re-usable-nappies

reusable_nappies-17Susan Bushe is Cloth Nappy Advisor to the Brussels Childbirth Trust. In this article, he has summarized all you need to know about reusable nappies. If you have subscribed to our mailing list, we will let you know about her presentations on these nappies at a Sunbeams event in the near future. You can also contact her directly on this topic and on making natural soap.

Reusable Nappies – Take Another Look!

Cloth nappies? Why bother when we have disposables these days? Many people are becoming more concerned about what disposables are doing to our baby’s health, the environment, and our wallets, so more people are turning to cloth than ever before. But, where to start? Gone are the days when you only had terry squares with a plastic cover. There are soooooo many choices for using cloth nappies, it is important to take a little time to find the one that best suits you. A lot of things depend on what you want from choosing cloth over disposables. For example:

  • To be more green (then selecting natural fibres, like cotton and hemp, may be a preferable choice)
  • To be more environmentally friendly by cutting down on what goes into the rubbish (any cloth will do)
  • To have an easy alternative to disposables (consider an all-in-one or pocket nappy)
  • To save money (any cloth will save you money in the long term and even more if used for more than one baby, and the old terries used in the past are the cheapest of all – but most difficult to use)
  • For health reasons: To have something soft and gentle against your baby’s bottom – without unregulated chemicals in it! (some of the fleece lined nappies are great for this)
  • To reduce nappy rash instances (again, cloth is superior for this)

Most babies will suffer the dreaded nappy rash at some point, but it should never be a regular occurrence, and if it is then the root causes need addressing. ‘Nappy Rash’ is caused by prolonged skin contact with irritants such as moisture, friction or by chemical substances found in nappy materials. Contrary to popular belief, cloth nappies are not a leading cause of nappy rash, in fact quite the opposite. Instances of nappy rash increased dramatically alongside the arrival of the disposable nappy, with all of its adhesives, plastics and chemicals - and in turn, along came the nappy rash creams - which now go hand in hand.

Things to consider when choosing cloth

Your preferences and habits

It is important to choose a nappy system that you will find rewarding to use. Consider your own personality and habits. Different people find different aspects of their cloth nappies rewarding - Will you enjoy knowing that your whole system cost you under €300 or will you revel in your nappies being the newest, coolest thing around? Will you love being able to use the same set of nappies for your baby from birth to potty, or will you marvel at the neater fit of multi-sized? Will bold or bright colours or cute prints make you go gooey or will it be white and fluffy? Is quick and convenient going to be what keeps you going after a broken nights’ sleep or will you enjoy learning a bit of origami and folding nappies “just so” for your baby? Does the simplicity of having one type of nappy in your nappy kit appeal to you or will you enjoy choosing from a selection of different nappies to suit each particular occasion? Also consider if you are willing to change your baby more? Using cloth means changing during the day about every 2.5 – 3 hours, and actually you should be changing the disposables that often too.

Ease of care and washing

Many people worry about the extra work required to use reusable nappies, and are justifiably put off by the thought of getting too involved in the pooey ones. Reusable nappies do require a bit more effort than disposable nappies. With a disposable nappy you wrap it up, put it in the garbage, and then you never see it again (though you might get the odd reminder whiff from the garbage can as you walk past!).

Of course your descendents in a few generations might see it too. An interesting aside here is that it is actually illegal to put human waste products in the garbage due to the risk of disease contamination of landfill sites. Disposable nappy manufacturers recommend that you scrape the solids off your nappies before you dispose of them in the garbage.

Another consideration is do you have a washing machine that has at least a 60 °C wash cycle? And, is your plumbing able to take extra washes? Today's nappies really are easy to care for – take soiled nappy off, shake solids into the loo, put the nappy in dry bucket with lid (lined with nappy mesh bag). On wash day put whole mesh bag into machine and put on rinse cycle, then wash at 60 °C (or 40 °C) with 1/2 of the usual amount of detergent – then tumble or hang dry. FYI, hospitals wash their linens at 60 °C. Using reusable nappies will mean an extra load of washing every two-three days – truly unnoticeable compared to the other washing babies and young children produce!

Type of nappy to select

Each type of reusable nappy has different pros and cons, which are discussed in this handout, and many people find that having a few different types works best so that they can choose which suits the occasion best at the time. Are you willing to do a bit of trial and error to find the best system to suit you?

Cost

No matter how extravagant you are with the reusable nappies you choose, you will almost certainly spend less than you would on disposable nappies (unless of course you become ‘addicted’ to cloth nappies: you know who you are and you are not alone!). However the money you spend on reusable nappies will be more noticeable as you tend to spend in ‘chunks’ rather than the €20 or so lost in your weekly shopping with buying disposable nappies. There are a lot of calculations performed by many people comparing the costs of reusable versus disposable nappies, and reusable seem to come out ahead in terms of savings every time. Also consider that many garbage collection services in Belgium are beginning to introduce charging based on weight when collecting your trash, and that’s another expense against disposables. By choosing to use cloth, you could also be eligible for refunds or subsidies from your local government (commune/gemeentehuis) or by the refuse collection company in your area.

The Often Overlooked Health Reason

Most people underestimate the ability of the skin (your largest organ) to absorb all with which it comes in contact. There is a reason pharmacologists created a birth control patch that adheres to your skin and releases chemicals that alter the hormonal functions of your internal system: Your skin is like a sponge. Consider what you will be putting against your baby’s vulnerable skin for the next 2 - 3 years, 24 hours a day. Chemicals of varying kinds are present in disposable nappies and it is unclear to what extent these are absorbed into the skin or precisely what the effect of this might be, especially over the long-term. The scary fact is that disposable nappy manufacturers are not regulated with regard to what they can or cannot put into their disposable nappies.

What types of nappies are there?

Colorful cloth nappiesThere is a massive diversity of cloth nappy styles, and this can make them seem more complex than they really are. That’s what this handout is all about, and why we encourage you to let us help you to make your decision.

You can also find an enormous range in the types of nappies now available: from plain old terry squares like those used on us or on our parents, to colourful or whimsical. There is bound to be a nappy type to suit you and your baby, your needs, and your budget.

In the following section, we will try to de-mystify the seemingly complex and confusing range of reusable nappies now available.

Cloth Nappy Lingo

A colourful array of prefoldsIf you are new to the idea of using a washable cloth nappy system, this should briefly explain the different parts that make up a cloth system.

WRAP (aka SOAKER)

A cute wool soaker, made to order

Starting on the outside you have the wrap. This is the waterproof part of the system which stops the clothes getting wet, and could be plastic, PUL, fleece, or wool. Different sizes of wraps are needed as the baby grows bigger, if you use a multi- sized nappy system. A cute wool soaker, made to order.

Traditional plastic (or PVC) nappy covers/pants are - quite frankly - disgusting and should be outlawed! You would not wear them yourself, so why make your baby wear them? Most importantly, plastic pants are hot and sweaty, and they tend to leave painful red marks on the waist and legs. Because of this environment, sweat rashes easily develop, especially with night nappies. They may seem very cheap, but because they go hard so easily and need to be replaced, it is a very misleading economy.

NAPPY

A shaped nappy with extra absorbant insert

Inside the wrap you have the nappy that absorbs the wee and can be either shaped or flat (for you to fold). Nappies are either available as a sized system needing maybe 2 or 3 sizes from birth to toilet training or as a birth-to-potty system which is one size of nappy and is adjustable to fit for the entire nappy wearing period.

LINER

Inside the nappy and against the baby’s bottom you have the liner, which is designed to catch the poo while wee passes through to the nappy. Liners are either washable (e.g. cotton, fleece, or silk) or disposable. They are not theoretically essential, but make dealing with reusable nappies much easier.

BOOSTER

At night, most babies need extra absorbency and this is provided with a booster. Some birth-to-potty nappies have daytime boosters which can be popped in/out according to the size of the baby and the absorbency required.

Nappy Types

  • A two piece nappy system means there is a separate nappy and wrap.
  • In an all-in-one nappy, the nappy and wrap parts are built together into one item.
  • A pocket nappy is a two piece nappy that you stuff with something absorbent and can be put together beforehand to act like a kind of all-in-one.

Nappy Sizing

One-sized reusable nappies are adjustable so that you can adapt the nappy to fit from birth to potty training. With multi-sized nappies you will need to buy several sizes from birth to potty (usually two, sometimes three or rarely four, depending on your baby’s size at birth, build, growth and when he or she potty trains).

There is no single best nappy system and most people find it useful to have a few different nappies.

Nappy sizing overview table

* Even if you don't choose this nappy as your main nappy system, it is handy to have a few all-in-one or pocket nappies for quick changes when you're out-and-about, for the childminder, or for travelling.

If you are going to be stressed using cloth nappies while out and about, I suggest you don’t do it! It’s not against the law to use the occasional disposable.

What do I need to buy?

Just like anything to do with babies, you can go overboard with things to buy, but what do you “really” need? This is just a guideline:

  • Your basic nappy system, which may comprise separate nappies and wraps, All-in-Ones, or Pocket Nappies.
  • Liners, can be reusable cotton, fleece, or silk or disposable paper liners
  • Extra absorbency for night use (boosters or fleece boosters)
  • Lidded nappy bucket
  • Something to clean baby's bottom with (disposable wipes / washable wipes / cotton wool)
  • Waterproof nappy bag for trips out
  • Changing mat

Illustrations of some of the types of reusable nappies (diapers) available

Fitted diapers Pocket diapers

All-in-one diapers Contour diapers

Prefold diapers

How many do I need to buy?

The number of nappies you will need depends upon the age of your baby and how often you intend to wash your reusable nappies. This is intended as a rough guide and some people will find they need a few more or less.

  • You need to consider that newborns may need a nappy change up to 10 times a day! As the baby gets a little older this will reduce to 6 – 8 times whereas an older toddler may only need 5 nappy changes a day.
  • Most babies require three sizes of the multi-sized type nappies from birth to potty training (small, medium and large). Smaller or more petite babies may only need small and medium before they potty train in the daytime, though may go on to need the large size for night time until night training (which may take another few years after your child is dry in the day). Based on this, for one day, you will need as a minimum:
    • Pile10 small sized nappies
    • 9 medium sized nappies
    • 7 large sized nappies
    • With the one-size system, the minimum number of 10 per day will be required if you are using the nappies from birth or soon after.
    • Nappies can be washed with other laundry at 40oC or 60oC and some types dry very quickly, so it is possible to wash the nappies daily and hang them in a warm place to dry ready for the next day. This way you will only need enough nappies for one day.
  • However, you may find it more convenient to have enough nappies for two days and do a ‘just nappies’ wash every other day. In this case, you will need a minimum of 20 small, 18 medium and 14 large of the sized nappies. If you are going for the one-size nappies a minimum number of 20 will be required if you are using the nappies from birth or soon after.
  • You may be able to manage with fewer nappies and still wash every 2 – 3 days. Many people manage fine with 18.
  • Most babies potty train in the day earlier than at night and can be in night nappies for a long time after they are dry during the day. You may well need to buy a set of XL nappies for this stage, but you will not need many (maybe 3 nappies and 1 – 2 wraps).

Remember, you can use cloth nappies for more than one baby, meaning if the cost from the number of nappies you need scares you off, consider the long-term cost over one or more babies.

Where to buy?

We have compiled a list of resources over the years, some we know, some we have had recommended by others. We can’t guarantee you will have the same experience as others have had, but it is a starting point for you to see what is out there and available to you. And we are always interested in your feedback and recommendations.

There are many places to find cloth nappies, but to get you started, we have compiled some resources that may be of interest:

Babykind and The Nappy Lady are both competitive suppliers of cloth nappies, and the UK doesn’t tax baby items (!) making them both very cost effective options. Both Babykind and The Nappy Lady let you buy several different kinds and offer nappy trial packs, and will take returns if they don’t suit you or your baby. Plus, you can arrange to set up a “list” should you want friends and family to be able to gift you part of your chosen system.

With the sometimes low US dollar, some of the suppliers such as Fuzzibunz can become quite competitive to get directly sent over from the US. You could try Nicky’s Diapers to check out US prices.

To see & touch a range of cloth nappies in Belgium, the following have a good selection:

You can order cotton and "bio-friendly" disposables from this website and then pick up your order at your nearest Colruyt store.

For nappy washing/delivery service, we’ve been told about the following:

A home delivery company is Ecotribu, reported to use bicycles for pick-up and delivery. www.clairedelune.be/ramassage-nettoyage-couches-lavables.htm LUCE Luierservice http://www.luierservice.be/ (in Dutch) Local Belgian WAHMs made-to-order nappies: For those wanting something more personal, there are many SAHM/WAHMs who make nappies and wraps and soakers and much much more, such as Tucana’s Dream. Tucana’s Dream (www.tucanasdream.be) is run by a Work At Home Mum who will make what you want to order, and while her site is in Dutch, she speaks and writes English well. Or you could also try these WAHM’s sites: http://users.telenet.be/hetkakkernestje/luiers1.htm http://www.mamaskindjes.be/ http://www.flanelleke.be/index.htm Do-it-yourself nappies: If you know your way around a sewing machine and fancy making your own nappies, there are a lot of online resources to help you with what you need including patterns and support. Just do a search on “cloth nappy (or diaper) patterns”, and you are bound to find a site that will help you.

reusable_nappies-13

An amusing, and true, story about The Adventures in Folding a Cloth Nappy

How many people does it take to fold a cloth nappy? I don’t know...I lost count!

Imagine an array of people with years of mothering experience and high levels of education all being completely lost when it came to folding a nappy... and not even a piece of loose cloth but one that is pre-folded. Yes embarrassingly it’s true!

I’m happy to report that we eventually solved the puzzle and are now happily using cloth nappies on our darling eco-baby but it was a journey... We chose to buy the Chinese Unbleached Prefold Nappy. This type of nappy was new to both my Mother and Grandmother who had used the plain unfolded type, so I was clearly charting my baby’s bottom into new territory. Excited about using them, I scanned the online world to find the numerous ways of folding. I found some great sites with clear diagrams and, after practicing on a teddy bear, I found that I liked the Angel Fold the best. This was going to be simple... or so I thought!

When baby was born, a petit 2.7 kg, the hospital nurses wrapped her in a tiny disposable. I felt smugly confident that on the next change I would have her in my desired cloth, but that was not to be. Suddenly the fold that was easy on the teddy bear was a highly complex piece of origami on a live and fragile baby. After a few failed attempts I decided not to traumatize the newborn child and postponed the endeavour until we got home.

However, despite many subsequent practices at home the simple fold refused to work. There was simply too much cloth, it was bulgy and made baby’s legs splay wide apart. I felt like my manifesto to be an all-natural eco-Mama was being diminished with each disposable and I kept scouring the net for further support. With the days flying by and noone else in my support network having much of a clue what to do, I decided to get creative and try to modify one of the prefolds by cutting it into the shape of a disposable and fitting it around baby’s bum without the bulk. Without a sewing machine I was left to sew the frayed edges by hand and, as demands on my time were being made by much more important things, I simply got fed up of the laborious project.

I then became concerned that I had selected the wrong type and that the thickness of these nappies were going to prove unsuitable for the Caribbean climate. I fretted that I would find no use for the several boxes that had been kindly purchased for me. So I purchased some of the plain cloth squares that my mother had used but these were utterly useless as they were so thin and got wet every 2 minutes. In the spirit of recycling these were transformed into great burp cloths!

So what became of my foray into cloth diapering? Well quite unspectacularly in a humble ‘Eureka!’ moment it all fell into place and the fold was suddenly easy, simple and fit perfectly. How? Well quite simply, baby had put on a few kilos, I had begun to feel more confident in handling her tiny body, and I was very persistent in my attempts. The prefold now fit snugly on her and I entered the wonderful world of cloth diapering!

But how do I know what to choose? One nappy advisor parent’s experience

Nappy basket

Upon the arrival of our first baby, we started with Ella's House hemp nappies with Motherease wraps. I was gung-ho and keen to begin from day one when we left the hospital. This was tricky because newborns are so small, and if we didn’t fit the nappy well, we had a lot of washing to do (pjs, bedding, the baby...) due to leaks. But after a lot of “mistakes”, we finally mastered their use and set up our changing area to handle the particular needs of using cloth and because we were using a two-part system. This meant we wanted a place to air the wrap not in use (we put up a small clothes line on the wall over the changing table).

We eventually got a handle on how to use the nappies without “accidents”, plus our son grew so they began to fit him better. We used Ella’s House nappies with Motherease wraps for overnight use until my son became potty-trained. These are nice nappies, and are very absorbent. I also used a couple of Tots Bots and Swaddlebees I had, and both are also good for overnight use.

However, when using a system that has an “inner” nappy and an “outer” wrap, I found it tricky when needing to do a nappy change while away from home, especially in a place with less then great changing facilities. I discovered that I needed to have an extra pair of hands, 2 waterproof nappy bags, one for soiled nappies to be washed and one for used wraps to be aired and used later, in addition to carting along the clean nappies. This led us to trying another system for daytime use.

But, because I was so keen in the beginning, I’d ordered both the small and medium sizes of Ella’s House nappies and Motherease wraps, and ended up having to return most of the Ella’s House medium nappies (we kept several for overnight use and 3 wraps). This was handled surprisingly easily and without stress, so that was a great relief.

For daytime use, we selected Fuzzibunz pocket nappies but not happily initially – I didn’t like all the poppers – but now I swear by them and they are hard for dextrous little hands to open unlike the aplix of the system we were using. Fuzzibunz have been around a long time and I have come to believe they are one of the easiest styles of cloth nappy to use (as in being closest to being like a disposable). This type has an outer and inner sewn together, and you stuff an absorbent pad into it. Pre-stuff them, and they snap on and off as easily as disposables. They are fast to dry, but are made with man-made fibres, so I was initially reluctant because I really wanted to be “green” and go for all cotton or all hemp. But now I am a convert. Pocket nappies are fantastic...

Until baby #2 came, and she could pee the Atlantic into her nappy! With only one “inner” in her Fuzzibunz, she would leak if left in one for more than an hour. So, most of the time, we double-stuff her nappies, which works for us. Overnight was a huge challenge because even the Ella’s House and Motherease 2-part system with booster (that worked for our son) would mean leaks when used on our daughter.

So, we found a great solution – soakers. We got 4 wonderful hand-knitted merino wool soakers from Tucana’s Dream and use these wonderful, luxurious naturally water resistant and breathable wraps over the top of the Fuzzibunz for night time use. No more leaks at night time! And the soakers are simply lovely and easy to care for (and we can use them as shorts when she gets older).

What did we learn?

  • Nappy pileDon’t take on too much at once. In the hospital, and in the very beginning, it is easier to start with disposables... Unless you are a die-hard like me. But if you aren’t, and you don’t want to scare off your partner, then I would wait a few weeks or a month before beginning with cloth. Newborns are so tiny, it’s hard to get a good fit with cloth. Starting early may not be for everyone, so don’t push it and be turned off for good.
  • If you are going to be stressed using cloth nappies while out and about, I suggest you don’t do it! It’s not against the law to use the occasional disposable.
  • You must have a 60 °C wash cycle on your machine (or access to one), otherwise you are limited to nappy services, boiling the nappies yourself (charming thought, not!), going to a laundry mat, investing in a new machine, or disposables.
  • Just when you think you have a system that suits you, something (or a new baby!) changes things and you need to adapt accordingly.
  • Cloth is worth it, not only financially, but the effort isn’t much more than disposables. And we feel good knowing we aren’t contributing to even more waste, and our babies have a healthy start in life. The initial investment was a bit ghastly to swallow at first, but over the long term and 2 babies, we are well ahead.
  • Don’t think you need to buy a complete set all at once – you can stagger your purchases and build up your stock over time.
  • If, despite everything, you have ended up with a nappy system that is fine in principle but just not suited to you, be aware that there is a very good secondhand market for most nappies on the internet or in the BCT.

Cloth Nappy Support and Information

Susan Bushe, BCT Cloth Nappy Advisor, is more than happy to help you with your decision. There is also a small BCT nappy library where you can trial a basic pre-fold system. Susan is also happy to “show-and-tell” the nappies she uses. You can contact her at: Susan Bushe 0495 59 47 50 or susan.bushe@gmail.com.

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Articles Wed, 17 Mar 2010 14:30:13 +0000