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Ilana is co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mother to three girls - Azure, Phoenix and Ione. She's also the owner of A Jaded Mama, a blog about mothering, small business ownership and all things green. When she's not busy coming up with new product ideas, working on social media campaigns and co-managing the business, you'll find her doing handstands, doing pull-ups, co-sleeping, raising school-aged children and reading.

Amy is the other co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mom to three boys - Bailey, Davray, Sacha, and to beautiful DAUGHTER, River. She's a dedicated and very attached parent and just adores the company of her enormous, gorgeous boys. When she's not busy juggling the company finances, talking on the phone with suppliers and trying to talk Ilana down off a cliff, you'll find her very involved in her community activities and enjoying the great outdoors.

Natalie is the Social Media Coordinator for AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers. You can find her on @AppleCheeksDipe on Twitter or Instagram or the Facebook page! Natalie is the mother of three children - Elinor (6), Grant (3) and Roslyn, who will celebrate her first year of life - fully diapered in AppleCheeks - in December! If you follow her personal account on Instagram @justgnatty, you'll know that she's just a little obsessed with taking fun photos of these diapers and has an outright addiction to MiniZips. Got a blog topic, giveaway wish or product feature idea? Send a note to natalie@applecheeks.com!

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9:22AM

Why are you guys so expensive?? Uh, we're not!

ACLittleBundleSM Have you all been reading the reviews we're getting from blogging moms who are trying and LOVING our products? If not, here is a quick link to the list of them (it's not updated but we're working on it!). Pretty impressive, huh? We think so too, though we're not the sort to toot our own horns. See how we're modestly hanging our heads and shuffling our feet?

The reviews of the AppleCheeks™ system are consistently fantastic, without exception. We get top ratings for quality, performance, and customer service. But we keep falling short on the price point, and that's what I want to address in this post.

Let's look at the features that go into making every AppleCheeks™ diaper a high-end performer. Because really, when it comes to cloth diapers, you get what you pay for!

• Modular : The envelope cover can be used as all-in-one, or as a cover + insert

• A two-size cover and a one size insert. Thanks to the adjustable 2 row snaps, the two-sized covers fit baby from birth to toilet training, whatever her shape or size.

• Economical : The AppleCheeks™ system is designed to be attractive as a whole kit.

• 8 gorgeous colours and frequent limited editions that would suit even the most fashion conscious parents.

  I_pic_applecheeks_envelope_


Now, when we created our system, we really thought it all through. Though we understand that there's a large portion of the population who prefers their cloth diaper stash to be an assemblage of a variety of brands (we totally get that desire, don't get us wrong! Fluffy mail is SO MUCH FUN!) there is also a large group who wants one, easy-to-use, well-supported system. AppleCheeks™ offers some great, pre-assembled packages that take the guesswork out of diaper shopping, and you know that when you invest in us, we invest in you (for proof, check out our Facebook Fan Page or trying emailing us with your question). This is the case whether you own one cover or a whole assembly! We don't care. All we care is that you're satisfied with our product!

If you place our system up against a system that is 1) manufactured outside of North America,  2) uses a synthetic insert system, 3) uses hook and loop closures instead of snaps or has only one row of snaps, 4) kind of, sort of fits, but not really, and 5) can only be used as a pocket diaper and not as a cover/insert system or vice versa, then yeah, we're going to come out LOOKING expensive. But at what cost? Ultimately, if a system doesn't really work or if it's going to cause problems and send you running back to the grocery store for your diapers, then sure, you've saved in the short term, but in the long term you're back to square one!

As the market's most versatile diaper (see our tutorial video which demonstrates how you can use your AppleCheeks™ as a pocket OR as a more economical cover/insert), AppleCheeks™ ultimately does not cost more than the leading competitors. It's all about the hard numbers!

Have YOU done the math? As the mother of a newborn (again) I find it hard not to think about how much money I'm saving by choosing to use cloth. Just pretend I actually bought my stash for this exercise. A full-time two-size AppleCheeks™ kit costs $836, which will give you 36 changes and be good for up to 35+lbs:

1. Ione goes through about 12 diapers in a 24 hour period, sometimes more.

2. I have about 24 changes in my stash at this point, which is not enough. I need another days' worth. So say I have 36 and I'm washing every three days. I expect that her usage will decline somewhat as she grows and stops pooping so much, so after three months let's drop the number to 8 diapers per day.

3. Throwaway diapers cost about $0.15 each around these parts for the cheap ones. So the first 3 months of usage would cost about $162 and the next 2 years and three months about $1000 for a total of $1162. If you use premium diapers or the so-called "environmentally-friendly" diapers, you can easily double that figure, so let's say $2200, because a lot of people prefer higher end brands for whatever reason. And those throwaways can only be used once. My AppleCheeks™ are on their second child now, so double my savings. Had I had them when my first was born, you could have tripled my savings, but we weren't around then.

So based on the equations above, I've already saved a couple of hundred to a thousand dollars on child one, and any subsequent children (there won't be any around here but there might be in your household!) will not cost anything.

Now, compare us to the leading retailers of one-size pocket diapers, which average about $24 for the whole shebang, cover and insert. For around the same price as our system you get 36 of their diapers, BUT you compromise on fit and performance as they are not nearly as customizable.

Remember, AppleCheeks™ is a two-sized cover because fit is NOT something we're willing to compromise on. But our inserts are one-sized and we've got some great additional options to make sure our system REALLY works for your baby!

The fact is, after over two years on the market and feedback from hundreds of satisfied parents, we KNOW that AppleCheeks™ meet the high standards parents have come to expect from their cloth diapers. Performance-wise we're right up there, and in terms of customer support we get top marks. We're moms too, so we treat you like we'd expect to be treated. And you shouldn't expect less!

Check out our retailer listings to find a source of AppleCheeks™ products near to you. More retailers are being added on a weekly basis, so check back regularly if you don't find someone in your neighbourhood!



8:49AM

Newborns and AppleCheeks™

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! IMG_0428

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 IMG_0429 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!



2:16PM

Got buildup? Don't panic. Just strip! And a note about dryer sheets too.

Girlindryer Before I launch into the meat of this post, I want to reference the stock photo I've chosen to head it. Please tell your children NOT to try this at home. It's incredible how many photos there are of people crawling into and out of washers and dryers. Am I missing something?

Today's question of the day from my The Mommy Playbook guest spot pertains to dryer sheets. Many parents are unaware of the impact dryer sheets can have on their diapers. But even before we talk about diapers, let's talk about the sheets themselves.

Do you really need to be using them?

First of all, if your clothing is all cotton, you are not going to get static cling. Static comes from the drying of synthetics like polyesters and you can avoid this and keep your clothes looking good for longer by hanging said articles to dry instead of putting them in the dryer.


Secondly, dryer sheets are made from a non-woven polyester (it's way more complicated than that but I'm not a textile specialist) and I once heard an environmentalist say that they are the scourge of the environment because they NEVER biodegrade. So by using these and then throwing them out we're contributing to the whole landfill problem, which, of course, is a large part of the reason we've chosen to cloth diaper, right?

Thirdly, think about what you're coating your clothing with by using dryer sheets. I'm not going to get into those details because they're boring but here is the Wikipedia link if you're interested. Yucky. Remember, your skin is your body's largest organ and whatever touches the skin also gets absorbed by it. And then that stuff then has to be processed by your kidneys and liver. Your organs are one thing, but your baby's organs are a whole lot smaller...

If you do want your clothes to be extra soft and if you do wear synthetic fibres, there are other, more natural options available on the market and there are a bunch of good suggestions on The Grinning Planet page. Note that this article was written in 2004 and yet the common sense methods still apply. Did you know that for some fibres, vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washing machine can actually be as effective as fabric softener?

Now, if you DO still use dryer sheets, or have used them in the past (and I'm not judging you either way! It's your choice), let's talk about the implications their use can have on your diapers.

Q: If you had previously used dryer sheets in your dryer - can that affect your cloth diapers? If so, how do you "clean" out your dryer?

A: Yup, it can cause some pretty yucky repelling, and I actually really like it when parents write in with repelling concerns and answer yes to the dryer sheet question because it makes the problem SO easy to solve.

So what happens if you do use dryer sheets? They tend to coat the drum of the dryer and that coating gets transferred to your diapers when you dry them, and repelling is the unfortunate side effect. Not the end of the world, of course, because you can strip and fix them (see below), but it's always better to prevent!

Note that if you do use them, you should also consider washing your lint filter pretty regularly with dish soap as you'll get a buildup there too, which can apparently result in an elevated fire risk.

What we suggest is that if you think a dryer sheet might have been in your dryer in the load prior to your diapers, run a damp towel for about five minutes before throwing in your diapers so that the towel cleans off any residue and your diapers won't get exposed!

And while we're on the subject of stripping (insert silly joke here)...

 

Q: I have somewhat hard water...I don't have any stink issues, and I'm hoping I won't have them anytime soon, but I know I'll have to strip them sometime...what do you recommend as the best way to do so?

A: Here is our approach, which we find works really well for most parents UNLESS they have fancy HE front loaders, in which case there are additional steps you might have to undertake.

1. Throw all diapers (covers, inserts, bags, accessories) into your machine and run a cold pre-rinse to get any fresh residues off.

2. Add your usual amount of detergent plus half a cup of baking soda and run a heavy-duty, hot wash (or the closest equivalent) cycle.

3. Run the heavy-duty, hot wash cycle again with another half cup of baking soda but no detergent.

4. Run as many water-only heavy duty, hot wash cycles as required until your diapers come out REALLY smelling clean. Sometimes it's just one more for a total of three, but sometimes you may have to do as many as five.

And that should do it! If it doesn't, email me so we can try to figure out if something else is preventing your diapers from really getting clean (like your high end HE machine!)

If you do find you're dealing with stink issues a lot, then it's time to re-evaluate your washing technique. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes just adding a bit more detergent will make all the difference.



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