Monday, October 31, 2011

Win $50 at No Sugar Added

Peachy Keen Birth Services has teamed up with the most awesome all-natural family boutique, No Sugar Added, to give you a chance to win a $50 gift certificate!!  read more here:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Breastfeeding: A Childless Woman's Perspective

Maternity by Pablo Picasso

DISCLAIMER: Please do not read my avid support of breastfeeding as a judgement against those who choose not to.  My primary objective is to normalize breastfeeding in our society!

This week the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and breastfeeding advocates in more than 170 countries worldwide are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) for the 19th year with the theme "Talk To Me!  Breastfeeding: a 3-D Experience"
When we look at breastfeeding support, we tend to see it in two-dimensions: time (from pre-pregnancy to weaning) and place (the home, community, health care system, etc). But neither has much impact without a THIRD dimension - communication! 

Communication is an essential part of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. We live in a world where individuals and global communities connect across small and great distances at an instant's notice. New lines of communication are being created every day, and we have the ability to use these information channels to broaden our horizons and spread breastfeeding information beyond our immediate time and place to activate important dialogue. 

This third dimension includes cross-generation, cross-sector, cross-gender, and cross-culture communication and encourages the sharing of knowledge and experience, thus enabling wider outreach.
As a childless, and therefore not nursing, woman, this issue may not seem to pertain to me.  Though, WABA’s call to action  is to reach beyond the borders of nursing moms and health care professionals, and include traditionally uninvolved parties. Supporting breastfeeding is EVERYBODY's job!  

Living Simply
There is nothing more organic, natural and whole than human milk for your human babe.  So, if you are into simple living, breast isn't best, it's the only option!  Also, there is no better way to save a boatload of cash than breastfeeding your baby for the first few years of her life.  Especially now that the Affordable Care Act requires the following to be covered by insurance without a copay, coinsurance, or deductible:   

Comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment. -Women's Preventive Services: Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines
Insurance will pay for pump rentals, lactation consultants, and maybe even breastfeeding classes.  That means that exclusively breastfeeding mamas will spend $0 on nourishing their baby.

The ability to swim is instinctive in most mammals.  While swimming comes naturally to some, others require more education. But we all possess the innate ability to keep ourselves afloat.  Generally, if one takes swimming lessons, and learns proper techniques, she can swim like a champ!  Likewise, breastfeeding comes easily to some women, while others find it to be one of the biggest challenges of being a new mother.  Just because it is supposed to be natural and instinctive, does not mean one can't benefit from education and support in the art of breastfeeding.  

Unfortunately, this education is not readily available in a lot of hospitals.  While you would hope that nurses working with first-time mamas would be super educated in the art of breastfeeding, this is not always the case.     If you are interested in furthering your education in the art of breastfeeding, find a certified lactation counselor.   The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLC) is the global authority that determines the competence of practitioners in lactation and breastfeeding care.

La Leche League has been supporting nursing mothers for more than 50 years.  You can attend a local LLL meeting or use their extensive online resources!  All LLL leaders are experienced mothers who have breastfed and have been specially trained by LLL to help moms with all aspects of breastfeeding.  They are also available by phone whenever you have breastfeeding questions or concerns.

But education doesn't end with breastfeeding moms.  Western society at large needs to be exposed to and educated about breastfeeding.  When kids are taking reproductive health classes in high school, they need to be taught about the functionality of breasts and the benefits and normalcy of breastfeeding.  They need to understand their bodies in order to appreciate their power.  

 Hortense Breastfeeding Paul by Paul C├ęzanne
As was the case with overcoming previously held social taboos, we must bring breastfeeding out into the open in order for it to become a social norm.  The idea that nursing in public is somehow immodest, indecent, obscene or gross is completely absurd.  First of all, if you have issues and can't handle seeing a mom nourish her child, perhaps you should examine why that is.  Because you are the one with the problem, not the nursing mom.  If you are not willing to examine your own issues, there is an even simpler way of dealing with it:  LOOK AWAY!  NOBODY IS FORCING YOU TO WATCH!!!!!

There are many reasons why people claim to feel "uncomfortable" around breastfeeding, and I would like to discuss and respond to them all.  However, since there are so many I will just leave it at this.  If you have a problem with seeing a woman nurse her child, you are wrong and you need to fix your issues.  This is not a matter of opinion.  It is just truth.  Women have the right to nourish their children in whatever way shape or form they deem is best.  In most states, legislation affirms a woman's right to breastfeed her child in ANY location where she is otherwise permitted to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding at the Cloisters, NY

Are you a lactivist?  Well, you should be!  Here are a few events that will be taking place this month;

This protest was made necessary after a mother was harassed by employees for breastfeeding at her local Whole Foods.  The purpose of the nurse-in is to convince Whole Foods Market to publicly and officially support the healthy and natural act of breastfeeding within their establishments by providing a nondiscriminatory environment for families who choose to breastfeed and by adopting a global policy to ensure such an environment.   Visit the Whole Baby Foods blog for more info.

Big Latch On
On Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 10:30am local time in locations across the USA and beyond, nursing mothers will gather to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and try to break the world record for the most women breastfeeding simultaneously!  I will be offering my support locally at No Sugar Added in Claremont, CA.

In Closing
To all of you nursing mamas out there, I offer my undying support of your decision to nourish your babes the natural way!!  

To mamas who were or are unable to nurse, I can only encourage you to seek out as much information and professional help as you possibly can.  Your OB/GYN and even your primary care physician may not be the best sources of help, try a lactation consultant or La Leche League.  I understand that some moms have genuine medical issues that prevent them from making enough milk for their babes, but there is always donor milk!  

To everyone else, I encourage you to do what you can to support breastfeeding moms in your community.  When you see a mama nursing in public, use it as a teachable moment with your kids, whatever their age.  If you are still around when she is finished nursing, approach mom and thank her for setting such a great example for the community at large and commend her for her thoughtful decision.  Every time I have done this, I am always greeted by a warm, yet sometimes surprised, smile!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Homemade Baby Food: One More Reason I Love My Mom

My parents adopted me when I was 5 weeks old.  They are my real parents in every sense of the meaning (except genetically).  The woman who gave birth to me was only 17 when I was born, and did not breastfeed me. 

I can understand how breastfeeding a child that you are relinquishing could be heartbreaking.  Though, I wish I could have had the benefit of the customized nutrients and immunities that only she could give me.  My mom tried to breastfeed when they got me, but was unsuccessful.  Breastfeeding resources for adoptive moms were limited if not non-existent in the late 70s.  But at least she tried!!

Despite the fact that I was never breastfed, my parents say that I was a very healthy baby.  I believe that my good health was primarily due to the fact that my mom made all of my baby food in our kitchen at home. 

I recently asked her what led her to the decision to make my baby food.  She said the main reason was that it was better for me than store-bought baby food.  She didn't base this decision on any scientific studies or professional opinions, just the common sense that whole foods were better than processed ones. 

The secondary reason was the high price of jarred baby food. She said,  "You ate A LOT and it would have gotten really expensive if we had bought baby food from the store.  You really ate A LOT.  I'm sorry.  Let's just say you were a good eater."  Oh, my funny mommy.

I wasn't starving!  That's for sure!

She explained that every Saturday, while Dad was doing yard work, she would set up my playpen in the kitchen and crank up the radio while she made my meals for the week.  She cooked a variety of fruits, vegetables and meat and then put them through a food mill which she cranked MANUALLY, thank you very much.  She put my food in ice cube trays, which she then froze.  Later, she would put all of the frozen baby food cubes into a freezer-safe tupperware container.  When it came time to feed me, which sounds like it was a fairly frequent occurrence, she would simply defrost a cube or two.

The idea of Natural Parenting is moving outside the crunchy granola circles and gaining momentum in the mainstream.  Combine that with the state of our economy during recent years and it is easy to see why more and more parents are choosing to make their babies' food at home.

Not surprisingly, this increase in the popularity of homemade baby food has been met by a myriad of products designed to make the process easier.  Here is a run down of some of the baby food products on the market right now.  They all have the same function, that is to turn whole foods into mush so your baby can consume them.  Some of the more expensive ones claim to have options for different textures (blend, puree, chop).
  • Manual Food Mills ($8-50) -  These are operated by hand, but when you consider the fact that most of the food you will be milling is soft, it won't take too much muscle.

  • Electric Baby Food Processors ($25-$90) - These work much faster than manual mills and require little to no effort on your part.

  • All-In-One Steamer/Processor Combo ($60-210) - These electric units have a steamer to cook the food and a processor to mush the food, further simplifying the process of making baby food.  Most units also have the added feature of being able to defrost and reheat the baby food.  Some have the ability to sterilize pacifiers or anything else that fits and needs to be sterilized.  Also, most are dishwasher safe.  Some are sold as a package that also include a rubber scraper, portion freezers (like ice cube trays), and storage containers.

While the all-in-one products can seem to make things easier, there are more cost-efficient alternatives.  Chances are, you already have everything you need to start making baby food.  But if you don't, I believe that you can get started for less than $20.  Visit your local thrift store or 99 cent store.  You will easily find a basic steamer (the metal kind that fans out), ice cube trays, and freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.  If you don't already own a food processor or blender, you can purchase a small single serve blender for less than $15. has the Hamilton Beach blender (seen below) for less than $12.

There are several benefits to making your own baby food, including saving money, saving the environment and giving your babe the most nutrient-rich food available besides breastmilk.  As I have already mentioned, the cost of store-bought baby food is ridiculous.  It's just food that has been pureed, but somehow it costs up to 4 times more than "adult food".  There is nothing special or better about baby food from the grocery store.

In fact, store-bought baby food has added water and starchy fillers.  My mom never added chemically modified food starch to my applesauce, but Gerber adds it to theirs so they can charge you more money for less nutrients.  Makes a lot of sense, right?  When you make your own baby food, you can be assured that your baby is getting the most out of every bite she takes.

And then there's the planet.  By the time a baby is 12 months, she will have consumed an average of 600 jars of baby food.  Multiply that by the 4 million+ babies born in the United States every year.  Where the heck do all of those jars go?  Food packaging in general is a huge source of waste in this country, but you can make a tiny dent in the waste, by avoiding those thousands of jars and making baby's food at home.

Read this awesome article by the Center for Science in the Public Interest about baby food.  It's long, but the Intro summarizes it pretty well.

When I told my mom about some of the all-in-one baby food makers on the market, she was impressed at the fact that they existed, and even admitted that they could make the process easier.  But she said that even if they had been available when I was a baby, she still would have done it the way she did.

There is one ingredient that my mother included in every batch of food she made for me, and it cannot be found in any jar of store-bought baby food:  LOVE!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why I Stopped Shaving

Call me a hippie.  Call me gross.  I am a mammal.  And mammals are supposed to have hair.  So, I guess the question is: Why did I ever START shaving in the first place?

I stopped shaving more than a decade ago, and have saved thousands of dollars in the process.  When you consider the cost of water, shaving gels, razors, razor burn creams, and the like, hair removal is clearly an extremely costly practice with few benefits.

When I was a young teenager, I could hardly wait to start shaving my legs.  Not necessarily because I wanted smoother, prettier legs, but more because it was something that grown up ladies did.  At first, I did not mind shaving, and I certainly enjoyed the benefits.  One of my favorite things about shaving was the way it felt when I got into bed.  My legs felt so smooth and silky against the soft linens.

It wasn't long before I realized that these so-called benefits of shaving were extremely short lived.  As soon as I got cold and got goosebumps on my legs, there would be stubble.  All of the careful work of shaving my very long legs was made pointless in mere seconds if the bathroom was too chilly when I got out of the shower.  And even without any external environmental stimuli, my legs didn't stay smooth for very long before the hair grew out enough to make stubble.

And then there was the issue of ingrown hairs.  As a person with naturally curly hair, I am constantly dealing with ingrown hairs.  Shaving only makes it worse. 

It was sometime toward the end of high school when I cut my shaving down to once a week, usually a day when my legs would be seen by the general public.  I was a cheerleader and played varsity softball, so I had to wear a short skirt or short shorts at least once a week for most of the school year.  But when I went to college, shaving became an even rarer occurrence.  This can be directly attributed to two things.  First, I was suddenly financially responsible for myself and everything I needed, including razors.  Second, my wardrobe changed drastically when I went to college; I stopped wearing short skirts and shorts, except on rare occasions.

I suppose there was a certain amount of laziness involved when making the decision not to shave.  I am almost 5'11"  That's 71 inches.  My legs are 35 inches long.  They are like tree trunks and it takes at least 40 minutes to shave them completely (and carefully).  A simple cost/benefit analysis easily concluded that shaving was not a necessity in my life.

My husband has never had a problem with my hairiness.  And I trust him, because he is always very honest about things he doesn't like.  Unfortunately, he is a minority in this respect.  Most men would be shocked and disgusted if their partners did not engage in regular hair removal.  Though, if body hair on a woman had been a sexual deal-breaker for men throughout history, we wouldn't exist as a species.

I hate to say it, but men expecting women to shave is completely sexist!  UNLESS, the man is willing to shave the same things he expects a woman to shave.  I understand that a shaved leg or armpit looks better and feels better, but the same would be true of a smooth man, right?!? 

Regarding the removal of body hair around your pubic area, I refer you back to my opening statement.  We are mammals.  We are supposed to have hair.  The hair down there is part of a beautifully designed self-cleaning system.  Please read the monologue Hair from Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. 

I will admit that shaving one's pits does help control odor, but if that was reason enough to shave, why don't men do it?  I will tell you why!  I have often wondered when and why women began shaving their legs and pits.  Recently, I did some research and found a few answers.  The jazz age ushered in new fashions that included sleeveless dresses.  In 1915 an ad in Harper's Bazaar featured a woman with her arms over her head revealing shaved armpits.  The ad claimed that new fashions combined with modern dancing made it necessary to remove underarm hair.  Later, as skirts got shorter, women were told by fashion magazines that they now needed to remove their leg hair as well.

Don't get me wrong, I shave on occasion.  My legs get shaved 4-6 times a year and my pits get shaved 1-4 times a month depending on how hot it is.  Every time I shave my legs, I put my best sheet set on my bed and enjoy that fabulous feeling of freshly shaved legs against 800 count Egyptian Cotton.  I'm not advocating for everyone to stop all hair removal.  But for those of you ladies out their who think they HAVE to shave, maybe this will make you think again.

I want to hear from you!  Are there other non-shavers out there?  Are you completely disgusted at the idea of NOT shaving?  Feel free to comment anonymously!  I want to know what you think!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Do You Drive Like That Around Your Kids?

Before I start, just wanted to point out the new share button on the left side of this page above the "About Me" section.  Now you can share your favorite posts with friends on facebook and twitter!!

No one follows the rules of the road anymore. 

Before you get all defensive, take a moment and really think about it.  Can you honestly say that you obey ALL the rules of the road, ALL of the time?  If you answered yes, I still don't believe you.

As most of you know, I ride a bicycle as my primary form of transportation.  I put myself at great risk on an almost daily basis by sharing the road with hundreds of distracted, tired, lazy, careless and just plain stupid people.  And I'm not talking about my fellow cyclists.

Driving is not a right.  It is a privilege.  When you obtain a driver's license, you agree to abide by the rules set forth by the state in which you are driving.  They are not rules that are meant to be followed some of the time, or when cops are around, or when you feel like it.  They are meant to be followed ALL THE TIME!!!

Do you drive like that around your kids?  Is that how you want other people to drive around your kids?  Is that how you want your kids to drive?  These are just a few of the things I say to people when they almost hit me with their cars.  In order to ask these questions, I chased a woman down Foothill Boulevard for a mile after she came within inches of hitting me one day last year. 

She seemed shocked that I confronted her, and explained that she hadn't seen me and that she was sorry.  I asked her if those words would make her feel better if someone said them to her after hitting her daughter.  Because I didn't think my husband or parents would be very comforted by them.  I told her she would have been really sorry if she had hit me, or killed me.  How can you be so sorry about it, when you could have so easily prevented it? 

Two and a half years ago, I was hit while cycling in Pasadena.  I was on my way to meet my husband about a mile away.  I was not wearing a helmet.  The car was only going about 15 mph.  I was thrown face first into the middle of the street.

After that accident, I didn't ride for almost a year.  It took a few months to physically recover, but it was the psychological scars that prevented me from riding.  I felt utterly betrayed by humankind after the driver who hit me sped away and several other drivers drove around me while I was lying in the street.  After a lot of time and a very cautious transition, I bought a new bicycle AND a new helmet and began to ride again.  I have never ridden without a helmet since then.  And I make it a point to proselytize for driver and cyclist safety. 

I want to address some of the most commonly ignored rules of the road.  They might seem simple and harmless little violations, but it really doesn't take much to seriously injure someone.

Distracted Driving
We are all aware of the real dangers that distracted driving poses, and yet everyday I see several  people on their cell phones while driving.  Is there a phone call or text message that is worth causing an accident and potentially injuring or killing yourself, your loved ones or anyone at all, for that matter?  I don't think so.

Unfortunately, distracted driving can occur even when using wireless technology like bluetooth.  Simply having a conversation distracts you to the point where you are not 100% focused on the task of driving.  And when you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, that is the only task that matters.

Coming To A Complete Stop
Red lights and stop signs are signals for drivers to STOP.  Always.  Even if you are turning right.  While you are allowed to turn right against a red light, you are only allowed to do that after you have come to a complete stop and have yielded to pedestrians and cyclists.

And then there is the matter of where to stop.  You are supposed to stop before the first white line you come to, not in the middle of the crosswalk!  If you can't see intersecting traffic, you are still supposed to stop behind the first white line.  Then you should slowly move forward to spot where you can see intersecting traffic.

Using Turn Signals
It amazes me how many people ignore this one.  It is essential to safe driving as it lets everyone know what you are planning to do.  It takes so little effort, and has such obvious safety benefits. Just turn your damn blinkers on, people!

Speed Limits in School Zones
The speed limit in school zones is 25mph.  Obey it.  Its just that simple.  I don't care where you are going or when you need to be there, it is your responsibility to plan accordingly.  SLOW DOWN in school zones!

Yielding to Emergency Vehicles
It's common knowledge that you have to pull over to the right when an emergency vehicle has its lights and/or sirens on.  That's where the common knowledge ends.  I have observed that several people think that you do not have to stop, but rather, drive slowly in the far right lane.  Another common misconception is that you only have to pull over when the emergency vehicle is travelling in the same direction as you.  You must pull over and come to a complete stop when an emergency vehicle is approaching from ANY direction.
Yielding to Pedestrians
You must always yield to pedestrians.  ALWAYS!!  Most intersections have crosswalks, whether or not there are painted lines on the street.  When you see pedestrians standing at the corner waiting to cross the street, you are supposed to STOP and let them cross. 

 It is NEVER okay for a car to be in the crosswalk when there is a pedestrian there.  You must wait until both of the pedestrians feet are out of the street, before driving through the intersection.

Yielding to Cyclists
When you get behind the wheel of an automobile, you are strapping yourself to a potentially deadly weapon.  You are relatively protected by a seat belt, a steel frame and a completely enclosed space.  Cyclists are completely exposed and vulnerable, and they deserve your respect and consideration.

Cyclists have just as much right to be on the road as you do.  Cyclists are allowed to ride in the center of the lane when:  they cannot safely ride against the curb, when they are passing parked cars or when they are travelling at the posted speed limit. 

Keep in mind that cyclists are using tons of muscles all over their bodies to propel themselves, while you are using a couple of muscles in your right leg to control the gas pedal.  Once momentum is lost for a cyclist, it takes a lot of work to regain it.  Don't make cyclists yield to you.  I am constantly forced to slam on my brakes because some jackass wanted to shave a few seconds off his commute by NOT yielding to me.  BTW, slamming on one's brakes while cycling can be extremely dangerous.

In general, just slow down and be respectful of the people with whom you are sharing a road.  Have patience.  How much are a few seconds worth to you? 

Cyclists of all ages should wear helmets when riding.  A helmet CAN prevent serious brain trauma and even death.  I was extremely lucky that I was not more seriously hurt in my accident.  My right eye socket has permanent damage and is noticeably different from the uninjured eye.  If I had been wearing a helmet, my facial injuries may have been prevented.  My mom cried when she saw me after my accident and my dad had a hard time looking at me.  No one wants to see their child (even an adult child) hurt or in pain. 

Think about that, the next time you let your child, spouse, roommate or friend ride without a helmet.  In most states there are laws requiring children to wear helmets.  While I am not a fan of laws that infringe on our personal freedoms (seat belts, helmets, etc.), it is still the law.  Parents have a responsibility to teach their children respect for the law of the land in which they live.  No one forces you to live here, you choose to.  That choice implies an agreement to abide by the rules.  So abide.

And if the law isn't enough to get you to comply, then just use an ounce of common sense!  It is obviously safer to wear a helmet!

In Closing
Please drive safely and obey the rules of the road.  Your kids spend 16 years watching how you drive.  Lead by example.  Be the kind of safe driver you would want them to be.  Drive as safely as you would if every cyclist or pedestrian you pass was your child, spouse or best friend.

For all of my readers of faith, you should employ the WWJD method (or similarly faith-appropriate sentiment) every time you get behind the wheel.  For everyone in general, drive the same way you want people to drive around your kids.  Be respectful, courteous, and patient.  It takes such little effort and has endless benefits!

And the next time your kid gives you crap for having to wear a helmet, please feel free to show them my accident pictures!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Simple Living Doesn't Have to Mean Boring Living

Tony Award-Winning musical Cabaret at The Met Theatre

Living on a limited budget does not mean that one cannot enjoy the finer things in life.  I have been known to spend the equivalent of one month's groceries on a single night of indulgence.  Though, I still never pay full price for ANYTHING!  Last summer, I saw In The Heights four times in two weeks, which cost me a total of $194 (less than 50% of the tickets' face value!)

Of course, those nights of extreme indulgence are few and far between, and in the meantime my aesthetic appetite needs to be appeased.  Contrary to what many might believe, there are several ways to enjoy the arts for little or no cost!

Goldstar is an invaluable resource for art lovers on a budget.  Sign up for free and get discounted or comp (free) tickets to a myriad of events in your area.  Goldstar helps people get out more to enjoy live entertainment, like theater, comedy, sports, music, performing arts and even things like wine tastings, sushi making classes and rodeos.  Their website is easy to navigate, the service is reliable and service fees are low and fair.  Yes, there are service fees, but they range from only $2-$5.  The service fees can be on the higher side for comp tickets, but ultimately you still pay far less than full price! 

Lanford Wilson's modern classic Burn This at the Mark Taper Forum

But wait, there's more!!  After you sign up for Goldstar, you can tell all of your friends about this great new money saver you have found.  For every friend that signs up, you earn a $1 credit towards service fees.  This means your comp tickets can truly be complimentary if you have earned enough credits to cover the service fees.  There is no limit to the number of friends you can refer or the credits you can earn.

The next Goldstar event my husband and I will be attending is "The Autry Celebrates Earth Day:  Sustainable Living in the West".     The Autry celebrates Earth Day with a museum-wide festival designed to inspire simple changes for a healthier planet. Drawing on Native cultures and traditions, this family-friendly event includes local environmental groups, community organizations, and hobbyists offering practical tips on how to get started on an Earth-friendly path. The day also includes tons of live entertainment geared towards children and adults, including storytelling, music and film as well as Kid's Planet activities, lectures and demonstrations.

Full price tickets are $11, but Goldstar is offering comps with a $3.75 service fee per ticket.  If eight of my readers sign up for Goldstar, our field trip to the Autry National Center will be completely FREE! 

Make sure you check out this website today!  Goldstar has been an invaluable part of my life for more than five years, and its time to share the savings!!  Sign up today!!

Goldstar serves the following cities and surrounding areas:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Diapering Our Way to a Better Planet

The Great Cloth Diaper Change in conjunction with the anniversary celebration of Claremont's premiere natural baby boutique, No Sugar Added, is happening this Saturday, April 23, 2011.
 As a local sponsor of The Great Cloth Diaper Change, and since Earth Day is fast approaching, I decided it would be a good opportunity to discuss cloth diapering.  My goal is not necessarily to convert every reader to cloth diapers.  Rather, I hope to educate people about the viability of cloth as an option. 

Cloth diapers have changed exponentially since I wore them 30 years ago and they have never been easier to use.  Upon starting my research for this article, I was shocked and a bit overwhelmed at the copious types of cloth diaper options.  There are all-in-ones, hybrids, pocket diapers, prefolds, and many more!  However, it doesn't take long to form an opinion about which kind is best for you.  Each type has specific features and conveniences that appeal to almost every mom.

Of course, the most common roadblock for people considering cloth, is the unpleasant task of cleaning the diapers.  However, this part of cloth diapering has never been easier.  I was amazed to find a brilliant product called biodegradable diaper liners.  It is a roll of material that visually resembles a dryer sheet, but it is made of biodegradable materials.  Just place the liner in the cloth diaper before you put the baby in.  When it's time to change, you simply pick up the corners of the liner and conveniently place it (and your baby's deposit) into the toilet to flush.  This eliminates the need to dunk diapers in the toilet to rinse them out.

Laundering diapers does take some time and energy, but can be worth it, when you consider the benefits of cloth.  Also, diaper services still exist and will do the dirty work for you. In Los Angeles, we have a few organic diaper services including Blessed Bums and  Luludew!  Both have the added bonus of setting aside diapers just for your baby, so you get the same ones every week.  This can give you the peace of mind of knowing that only your baby has worn those diapers.  And, Luludew diaper service is less than $20 per week!

Of course, it can be more convenient to be able to dispose of every diaper you remove from your baby, but there is high price to pay for such a convenience.  As a nation we spend more than $3 billion on 18 billion disposable diapers every year!  A baby can easily use 8000+ in the first 2-3 years of life.  While it is certainly possible to spend more on cloth diapers, than on disposable diapers, the opposite is usually true.  All things considered, cloth diapering is usually much less expensive than disposable diapers.  If you make your own cloth diapers, or buy them secondhand, you can save even more!

The graphs, below, show the average cost of several different diapering options.  The following was assumed to calculate costs:  8 diaper changes per day, and 3 disposable wipes OR 1 reusable wipe per change.  When calculating cloth costs, I assumed 1 flushable/ biodegradable diaper liner per change, unscented dye-free detergent, 50 reusable cloth wipes, 5 wet bags, and 30 all-in-one cloth diapers.  I did not include the cost of laundering the cloth diapers, because water and energy rates are too variable for me to do a decent national analysis.  I did, however, include the cost of an $80/month diaper service in one category.  The costs listed are the total cost to diaper one baby/child for two and a half years.

The first graph shows the costs of two categories of disposable diapers and wipes.  The first is a basic, no frills, bleached, scented, cheapest you can find diaper and wipe.  The second is a more "eco-friendly," undyed, unscented, partially biodegradable diaper and wipe.

The second graph shows the cost of four different cloth options.  Online w/ Service: purchased online plus the cost of diaper service.  Local:  Purchased locally at a non-chain store or boutique.  Online:  purchased online.  Secondhand:  previously owned or you make your own diapers and wipes.

Cloth diapers offer even more saving possibilities if you plan to have more children.  If you think ahead and buy gender neutral cloth diapers, you can use them for your subsequent babies.  If you don't or can't use them for subsequent babies, you may still be able to save money.  No Sugar Added, a natural baby boutique in my beautiful city of Claremont, California, has a trade-in program, in which they offer store credit to customers who bring in "slightly-loved" cloth diapers.

Environmental Impact
Studies are varied regarding the comparative environmental impact of disposable versus cloth diapers.  Though, common sense can go a long way when making your decision on how to diaper. 

70% of a disposable diaper is made from trees.  Unless you are spending extra money on eco-friendly diapers, you can safely bet that the trees responsible for making your disposables were not sustainably harvested.  30% of a disposable diaper is made of synthetic petroleum based plastic, which is very much non-renewable.  The manufacturing of disposables also negatively impacts the environment.  There are several dyes, scents and chemicals used in disposable diapers.

 And then, of course, there is the most obvious impact of disposables:  we throw them away.  Ah, that magic place:  "Away..."  After all of the time and resources it takes to make, a disposable diaper is used for mere hours before excrement is snugly entombed in its undegradable plastic and dumped, primarily in landfills, where it sits for hundreds of years.

There are several obvious reasons why cloth may be healthier for your baby.  As I mentioned earlier, most disposables are bleached, scented, and contain synthetic petroleum based plastics and chemicals.  So when you use disposables, your baby is constantly exposed to those things for the first 30 months of life.

Here's something you may not know:  It is illegal in most states to put human waste in trash bins for collection.  Did you know that you are supposed to dump the poop out of disposable diapers into the toilet before you dispose of said diaper?  It's true!  Sewage belongs in the sewer, not in your garbage can.

What Now?
Like I said at the beginning, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to exclusively use cloth diapers.  Many families use both cloth and disposable depending on the setting (home or away) or time (night or day).  I am a big supporter of parents making decisions that are best for their families.  I can't tell you what is best for you, but hopefully I can open a few eyes to alternative options.

I want to hear from you!  Please share your experiences with diapers.  What factors did you consider when deciding what method to use?  If you exclusively use disposables, did you ever consider cloth?  Would you consider cloth in the future? 

Have a wonderful Earth Day!  Hope to see you Saturday at No Sugar Added!