I didn't realize quite how much I'd appreciate having a newborn and for which reasons exactly. It's funny because I've had two before. But I guess a certain amount of selective amnesia is to be expected. I forgot about how they force you to do NOTHING because, well, you haven't got hands to do anything with. And yes, third time around forced immobility IS appreciated.
I also forgot about the challenges of cloth diapering a newborn, and while for your average person this might not be so significant, for a co-owner of AppleCheeks™ who supports her customers through their own newborn trials, it's nice to have a hands-on refresher. So thank you to Ione for the opportunity to write this post!
First off, let me back up a step. I mentioned the challenges of cloth diapering a newborn. Really, I should have said diapering a newborn. Because cloth or otherwise, newborns are in a category of their own when it comes to containing their output.
My oldest daughter has this Baby Alive doll that takes a bottle. What goes in comes out right away, and while said baby lacks a digestive system, this is pretty much what you can expect with a newborn baby. What goes in must come out. And out it comes, in impressive quantity!
When Azure was about two months old I took her to a restaurant in a throwaway diaper, and she chose halfway through dinner to explode. The poop channeled right up the back of her diaper all the way up to her hair. My mother and I had to strip her down and wash her in the sink, it was so bad.
Guess what? Neither Phoenix nor Ione, both of whom were in cloth from day one, EVER experienced a blowout. We've had minor leg leakage only because there are times when nothing short of a duct taped seal will contain the mess, but the poop stays inside the diaper where it belongs for the most part. Yes, I might be doing an extra load of laundry or two a week for my diapers, but the clothes and linens are staying clean, which means far less of that sort of laundry compared to if I'd gone the throwaway route!
I often get asked if AppleCheeks™ are good from newborn, and I am happy to report that although I already knew this based on the extensive testing we did prior to launching our line, I can say from first hand experience that there is NO reason why AppleCheeks™ can't be the first item of clothing to touch your newborn's skin.
There are a few issues that seem to concern people, so let me address them one by one:
1. Meconium - We get MANY emails about meconium and staining. The fact is, meconium is far less inclined to permanently stain your diapers than regular breastmilk poop. Meconium is a tarry mess of all kinds of gunk that your baby accumulated in their gut in utero, and it's actually not very liquid or even all that sticky. It washes perfectly off diapers and mine don't even have the slightest residue. Ione pooped at least five times before my milk came in. If you are very concerned, consider using a disposable liner to keep it off the fabric, but really, it's not something to concern yourself with in as far as not using cloth from the get go is concerned. See number 5 below regarding staining.
2.The umbilicus - When a baby is born, the cord is clamped and cut and for a day or so baby is left with this big plastic thing attached to the stump. After a day, your doctor or midwife will undo that clamp and the stump will be left largely alone until it dries out and falls off. It will take anywhere from three days to two weeks for this to happen, but the fact of its presence does NOT mean you can't use AppleCheeks™.
I regret not having taken pictures of Ione's stump before it came off but as you can see from this photo, the diapers fit nicely below her belly. Mind you, Ione is not a small baby and at just over three weeks old when this photo was taken she was already pushing 11lbs, but when she was born at 7lbs12oz I simply left the snaps at the waist done up loosely and they did not interfere with her belly button at all. The cord dried up nicely and fell off into her diaper during a change at five days old. If you have a small newborn you could always avoid doing up the waist snaps at all and just fold down the front flap to keep it off the cord.
3. Fit - This is the biggest challenge when it comes to diapering a newborn, in my opinion, and it's SO important because newborns are so little and yet they EXPLODE. This is also the benefit of a sized system vs. a one-size diaper. AppleCheeks™ REALLY fit. We've even had 4lb preemies in our diapers despite the fact that they are designed to start fitting a 7lb newborn. If you haven't already, please take the time to watch the two videos found here.
As well, some parents find that our one-size insert seems a little large on their tiny newborn. Though we do suggest folding your insert in thirds to fit nicely inside of your size 1 diaper, I have found that folding mine in four (as in in half and then in half again) makes for a much slimmer fit between the legs.
Alternately, we do make a two layer booster which is much thinner than an insert folded in half, and it could be a great insert for a size 1 if you have a small newborn that requires frequent changes. And if you do end up spending a little extra on our boosters you'll appreciate having them once the baby is older or for nighttime diapering.
4. Quantity - This is a tricky question so I'll base my recommendation on my experience and on what we've found works well for our customers. But really, the quantity you purchase depends on how often you're comfortable washing diapers. I prefer not to have to wash more often than every three days and if I can go longer I'm very happy. I unfortunately kept adding to my stash without really counting how many diapers I'd taken. But I'd estimate I have about 36 and for the first month or so I was washing every two days!
Why, you ask? Well, let me remind you about what I'd said about newborns in one of my opening paragraphs - remember Azure's Baby Alive doll? Yes, that was Ione. By the time she hit two months, however, she was down to a once-a-day poop so now I can easily go three days with my 36 diapers.
Remember, however, that when I say 36 diapers I actually mean 36 CHANGES. As AppleCheeks™ can be used as either a pocket-style diaper (1 insert + 1 cover) or as a cover/insert (3 inserts + 1 cover) you have to take your preferred method into account.
5. Staining - Fact: Diapers are there to contain poop. Fact: Poop stains. It's kind of hard to get away from this. So inevitably you will have to deal with some sort of residue/staining.
When used as a pocket-style cover with the fleece against the skin staining is minimized because the microfleece is not as absorbent.
When the bamboo inserts are used against the skin you can end up with quite a bit more staining because of the nature of natural fibres. They're just not as slippery as synthetic fibres.
So what can you do? First thing's first, DON'T PANIC. They're just stains. If your diapers smell clean then they are clean, even if they don't really look it. Staining is aesthetic and really, no one sees it but you. Your baby presents the stain-free side of her diapers to the world for the viewing pleasure of her admirers. They won't recoil in horror if the diapers are slightly stained on the inside. Check out the baby clothes of people who choose throwaways and THEN you'll see what staining is all about!
But if they do bother you, there are a few great ways to remove them. The first tried and true method is the sun. This is a great option for inserts, but we do not recommend hanging your covers in the direct sunlight as it can dry out the elastic.
The second great option is a prolonged soak in an oxygen bleach. I don't mean a product like Oxyclean but rather a simple product that is made from hydrogen peroxide. These products tend to be pretty mild and shouldn't harm your diapers, but they are excellent at breaking down the buildups that cause the staining. Fill your laundry sink with very hot water and add half a cup of the oxygen bleach and soak for two to four hours before washing.
As well, certain detergents, such as Lulu's Glamour Wash, are made with ingredients that are proven to minimize staining.
6. Creams - Along with most cloth diaper manufacturers, we're not fans of the use of creams. First off, creams are created to prevent a moisture barrier and moisture barrier = repelling. You don't want your cloth diapers repelling as that sort of defeats the purpose of diapering in the first place. Secondly, the conditions that cause rashing in throwaway diapers are controllable with cloth so we prefer to trouble-shoot with you and figure out what's irritating your child so it can be eliminated.
However, there are circumstances where creams are necessary, such as in the case where a circumcision is chosen and a cream has to be used to protect the incision if it heals.
Repelling is not the end of the world because it can be fixed but so long as you are using any creams we recommend the use of a throwaway liner (our own will be available towards the end of August!). As well, it's much more challenging to remove cream buildup from the microfleece than it is from our natural-fibre inserts, so you may not want to stuff your diapers for the period of time that you need to use the creams.
I think that's about it in a nutshell! If you have any other questions or concerns that I have not addressed, please email me and I'll do my best to answer your questions!