Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cloth Diapering with Special Needs - Christine's Story

As many of you know, we have been cloth diapering our micro-preemie son since he was a week old, which included his 7 month NICU stay. He's six years old now, and we still have to use cloth part time for car rides, etc. due to his developmental delays. We've found more and more families find us because they are researching how to use cloth diapers with their children with special needs, and we felt it was time to put together a resource for those families.

We reached out to well-known members of the cloth diapering community and asked if they'd be willing to share their stories. We share these stories with you with the hopes that you will find them helpful and feel free to share these far and wide as a resource for other families with differently-abled kiddos so we can normalize acceptance and #makeclothmainstream!

If you're looking to get started with cloth diapers, please check out our cloth diapering starter kit HERE as a great, affordable way to get off on the right foot. We'd be happy to customize it to fit your child's needs if you just send us an email!
Our first story comes from Christine Bondi Cerrato, a mom I "met" in the GroVia Families Facebook group back when her son Ethan was born. I can't tell you how much I appreciate these moms and their willingness to share their stories.

Christine and Ethan

My amazing 3 year old son, Ethan, was born 6 weeks prematurely fighting for his life. He was born with a chromosomal defect known as Currarino Triad. This syndrome is characterized by anorectal malformations, presacral masses, and/or sacral agenesis. In less obscure medical terms, Ethan was born without a rectum, with a large tumor, and parts of his sacrum missing/malformed. He was taken into surgery six times during those months as surgeons attempted to create a body that was compatible with life.
Against all odds, they succeeded.

We brought our baby home with a colostomy, mucous fistula, and vesicostomy. These are urinary and bowel diversions that bypass Ethan's 'broken' anatomy and allow him to pass urine and bowel movements safely through stomas on his belly. To complicate an already complicated situation, he also has paraplegia, epilepsy, hydronephrosis and kidney failure.
Having already cloth diapered two older children, I felt confident in my ability to diaper a typically abled infant/toddler. This was a challenge that was way beyond my scope and I needed advice. But when I asked Ethan's urologist how I should diaper Ethan, he sort of chuckled and said that he wished us the best of luck, because it was going to be a long, wet, miserable few years.
I was aghast at the lack of guidance given to parents who were newly on this special needs journey, but I refused to be discouraged. Likewise, I refused to allow my son to have the dismal experience that the urologist assumed would be his fate.

It took many hours of research and a good bit of money to finally find a cloth diapering answer that worked for us and we haven't looked back!!!
We use GroVia ONE's and they are still going strong! In that first year, when Ethan was just a tiny thing, we were able to successfully diaper him using the ONE cover and channeled soaker pads that come as a part of the system. As he grew older, larger, and his urine output increased, we created our own hybrid system of a GroVia ONE cover and disposable soakers.
Three years into the journey and he has recently had a foley catheter and a urine leg bag placed to collect his urine. We still use the ONE shell to help pad, protect, and carry the weight of his urine bag!

His anatomy and needs have been constantly changing, but we have consistently been able to find cloth options that really WORK for us! The urologist never mentioned that cloth diapers could be a safe and affordable option. Had I not already cloth diapered other children, I may never have looked back to all of the varieties, styles, and options available in cloth that just are not available in disposable diapers.
Sometimes, you have a special child, and when you have a special child, you may need to adapt a special way of diapering that is unique to your child, your family, and your situation. That's what we did, and that is what we keep doing each day as his needs change!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Make Cloth Mainstream Giveaway - Buti-Pod Wipe Cases, Thirsties Cloth Wipes & Spray!

Anyone using cloth diapers will find that a common next step is making the switch to cloth wipes. If you haven't tried them yet, what's holding you back? We shared 5 great reasons to switch to cloth wipes, and if you still haven't made the switch, maybe winning the perfect starter set will help convince you! ;)

Every other Monday, we team up with a great brand for a cloth diaper giveaway! This week's #MakeClothMainstream Monday Giveaway brand partner, Butibag, has the perfect partner for cloth wipes; the Butipod. These refillable wipes cases are available with a flip closure or a zip closure, and several fun designs. Whichever style you choose, Butipods are soft, compact, and feather-light, making them easy to take anywhere.
The winner will receive a Butipods variety pack!
What's a wipes case without cloth wipes? The winner will also receive two packs of Thirsties cloth wipes, plus a bottle of Booty Luster, both from Spray Pal!

Total prize value is approximately $48.99.
Grab your entries in the Rafflecopter form below and share with a friend to help make cloth mainstream!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Cloth Wipes

If you're using cloth diapers, you've probably considered making the switch to cloth wipes, right? When we switched, we still had disposable wipes left over, and we found it was actually MORE of a hassle to use them with cloth. Don't you hate trying to pick them out of the diapers and throw them in the trash? Have you ever washed one and had a weird mess to pull out of the dryer? Maybe your baby is sensitive to their ingredients, or you're just plain tired of buying throw away wipes, but you're not quite sure if cloth wipes are right for you. Spoiler alert: yes, you should be using cloth wipes, and here's why!
Cloth wipes are soft - You are putting the softest diapers on your baby by using cloth diapers, so wipe them with buttery soft fabric too! If your baby is irritated by disposable wipes, their hiney will love cloth.
Cloth wipes are thick and sturdy - Have you ever used 10+ disposable wipes for a dirty diaper? Ever had one slip or rip leaving your hands dirtier than you'd hoped? Cloth wipes are so thick and sturdy, you'll find yourself using far fewer of them, and keeping your hands clean!
Cloth wipes are versatile - Sensitive baby? Moisten with just water. Need extra cleaning power? Try a solution like Thirsties Booty Luster, or make your own. Pre-moisten the wipes, or use a spray bottle as you go. Stack them up, use a wipes pouch...the possibilities are endless.
Cloth wipes are reusable - Seems like a no-brainer but you can wash and reuse cloth wipes over and over. There's no waste, and the more you use them, the more cost-effective they become. BONUS: If you already have a Spray Pal diaper sprayer and shield, you can clip the messiest wipe in with your diaper to easily spray clean before you toss in the wash!
Cloth wipes have so many other uses - When your baby is out of cloth diapers, you will still want to have a stack of cloth wipes handy. They are excellent nose wipers, clean little hands in a snap, and do a better job than dinky baby washcloths. You might even find yourself using them to remove your makeup because they are just that good!

So, for all the same reasons you love your baby's cloth diapers, you'll love cloth wipes! Save money, reduce waste, and keep harsh chemicals off your baby's sensitive skin. Maybe we should start talking family cloth next, am I right? ;)
Have you made the switch to cloth wipes yet?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Why we LOVE prefolds and covers for cloth diapering, and why you should, too!

If you're considering cloth diapers to save money, don't be intimidated by prefolds and covers. They really are so easy to use, no matter how you fold them! We've even created a Prefolds and Covers Starter Kit to take the guess work out of it. Keep reading to see if these affordable cloth diapers are right for you!

When you think of Osocozy cloth diapers, you may think of the prefolds that our parents and grandparents used with safety pins and plastic pants before the dawn of modern cloth diapers. Some families are intimidated by this old school way of diapering, but we love prefolds and they're such a great option for those who are cloth diapering to save money! We found Osocozy prefolds so versatile and absorbent, we've added them to our own shop. If you've been hesitant to try prefolds and covers, you've come to the right place!

Why Prefolds and Covers?

Prefolds and covers seem to some like a tricky endeavor compared to the ease of an all in one diaper. While it is very convenient to put on a cloth diaper exactly like you would a disposable, prefolds and covers really aren't that much more difficult and you'll be saving even more money. An average AIO cloth diaper costs around $25 and you'll need a whole stash of around 24 cloth diapers. With prefolds and covers, if the prefold is wet, you can simply take it out and put it in your pail liner and reuse the cover with a fresh prefold. Which means you don't need to purchase as many covers because you don't need to wash them every time you use one like you do an AIO. Thirsties duo wraps for example only cost $13.25 and a 6 pack of prefolds start at around $14. So you get 6 diaper changes out of that purchase for only slightly more than the cost of a single AIO.

Of course the style of diaper you decide to use doesn't have to be all or nothing. We loved our AIOs, but we always had a few prefolds and covers around for those times we just couldn't pass up a new adorable print or needed a couple extra diaper changes to get us between laundry days. Covers and prefolds allow you to enjoy all the beautiful prints and "buy all the diapers" without all the guilt of the extra spending! They're the best option for those who are switching to cloth for economical reasons or those who are reluctant to switch due to the initial high start up costs.

How to Use Prefolds

Throughout our cloth diapering journey we always had a stack of prefolds on hand. We would simply trifold them and lay them inside a cover to put on our baby almost exactly like an AIO. Sometimes we'd trifold them and lay them inside an AIO or stuff them in a pocket for added absorbency for naps or bedtime. When you're baby is smaller you may want to use a Snappi or Boingos to fasted the prefold on your baby before putting the waterproof cover on, but it's not always necessary. It really is that easy!

Osocozy is known for their innovative prefold products such as better fit prefolds (sized to trifold), premium bamboo/organic cotton prefolds, and even prefolds with a stay-dry layer. Whether you're looking for organic cotton or traditional bleach or unbleached prefolds, Osocozy has you covered. Though Osocozy has become one of the largest suppliers of prefold & flat diapers in North America, since their beginnings in the 1990's, they also offer all-in-ones, fitteds, wipes, liners and more.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Make Cloth Mainstream Giveaway - Spring Style with Will and Ivey & Cloth Diapers!

Every other Monday we team up with a mainstream brand to bring you another fun and easy cloth diaper giveaway! This week's #MakeClothMainstream Monday Giveaway brand partner,  Will & Ivey, features adorable, organic baby clothes so your baby can be eco-friendly and stylish! It's the perfect #CDOOTD (cloth diaper outfit of the day) all in one prize package!

Will and Ivey offers clothing with grab and go easily-coordinated, modern, comfortable, minimalist designs. The romper (size 3-6 months) in this prize pack is organic cotton and tencel, which is produced using recyclable, Earth-friendly solvents, making it biodegradable. The romper is fully lined, with a front zipper and great style.
Finish off this adorable outfit with 2 newborn diapers from Spray Pal!
Total prize value is approximately $75.
Grab your entries in the Rafflecopter form below and share with a friend to help make cloth mainstream!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 9, 2018

Is an Affiliate Program right for your Small Business?

Our small business is constantly working toward finding the perfect balance between offering our customers amazing deals and keeping our business in the green. We're always experimenting with different ideas, and one thing we tried over the last two years was an affiliate program. Well, we recently discovered a way that big coupon/promo code websites are taking advantage of this system which is why we had to end our program. Read on to decide if an affiliate program is right for your small business.

The cloth diaper industry is in what some might call a slump right now. I'm not sure if it's limited to cloth diapers, or if small retailers in general are struggling to keep up with the big guys like Amazon and Walmart. I feel like it's probably more of the latter because cloth diapers as a whole have made some great strides toward becoming more mainstream over the years. But as a retailer myself, I've had to come up with some pretty creative ways to promote our online cloth diaper shop to the masses without getting lost in a sea of Amazon links. As you can imagine, this hasn't always been easy and we are constantly learning from our experiences.

One of the things we set up a while back was an affiliate program. Basically, we had lots of bloggers reaching out to us wanting to promote the Spray Pal cloth diaper sprayer and splatter shield, so we wanted to give them a way to make some sort of commission off of their work. They could sign up on our website and share their personalized link, and when a customer clicked their link and made a purchase they would get a 5% commission back to them for helping us spread the word. We really hoped this would be a great win/win situation for the influencers who were helping us spread the word and for our brand in getting our name out there. It sort of just ran on autopilot without any issues until just a couple weeks ago when I opened my inbox early one morning in February.

I opened an email from someone who had signed up as an affiliate on our website back in Fall of 2017. It was basically a form letter, and it was asking how we preferred to pay them their sales commission. We could request an invoice from them or we could just autopay a certain amount each month in advance. This took me off guard because as I mentioned, the affiliate program had been on autopilot, and no one had used any one link frequently enough to require a monthly payout (the minimum payment amount is $50 before the system will cut a check to the influencer). So I went into the backend of our website to see how often her link had been used since she signed up in October, and wouldn't you know our affiliate traffic had DOUBLED via this particular link.

Normally, I would have been ecstatic to have an influencer promoting our brand SO MUCH that we were gaining this many new customers via her recommendations and blog posts. But, here's what happened. I quickly googled their company website and Spray Pal to see what wonderful things she had been saying about our products, and here's what I found:

The orange "activate coupon" tabs you see there? Can you guess where they lead? Directly to our website. Via this company's personal affiliate link. Does it activate the coupon that they are claiming it will activate? No, it does not. So basically this a huge scam intent on misleading our customers into clicking their affiliate link so they get a 5% commission on each sale, even though they did NOTHING to promote our brand or talk about our products.

After realizing this tangled web of lies, I did a little more digging into who had actually used this affiliate link on our website because I thought, "Well, hey. If it's bringing new people into the site and turning them into customers, that's great!" But guess what. The people who had used the link were ALREADY our customers. They were people I recognized via interactions on social media. And I want to be clear, I'm not upset at these customers AT ALL. They did exactly what I MYSELF always do when I'm online shopping and I see an empty box at the checkout that says "Enter Promo Code" - I always do the google search. Open a new tab, search for Spray Pal promo code or coupon, land on this website pictured above, and click "activate coupon." WE ALL DO IT. And I never realized before this incident that so many of these sites will just take old coupons and post them with an affiliate link that leads to nothing but the website just to get people to click through and earn them money.

So, I've emailed this company back and told them that I will only pay them the commission for those customers who were brand new to our website when they used their link to purchase. And that effective immediately we will no longer offer an affiliate program. I'd rather use that money to offer you all discounts and promos like reward points directly than pay a company to run a scam that's unfair to you as a consumer and us as a small business.

And if you all wouldn't mind helping us spread the cloth diapering love and tagging us our sharing our links in the meantime, you know we'll love you for it. ;) Thanks for being so awesome and supporting our small, family run business!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Do Natural Detergents Really Work for Cloth Diapers?

As we make our way across the country with our #makeclothmainstream IRL booth educating families about the joys of cloth diapers, you can imagine that one of the most common cloth diapering questions we get asked is: "How do you wash them? Do you need to use a special detergent?" And while the technical answer is no, you don't NEED to use a special detergent on your cloth diapers as long as your detergent of choice is free of fabric softeners, there are some really valid reasons why many families do choose to use a more natural option.

Many of these questions come from parents who have started researching online and stumbled upon cloth diaper Facebook groups that troubleshoot laundry issues. The problem with joining a large cloth diapering community whose purpose is to troubleshoot issues before you actually start using cloth diapers is that you end up freaking out and anticipating that it's super difficult and challenging, but I promise it's not! It just seems like it in a group like that because everyone in there is posting their issues. No one goes into that group to share a post like I would have when I started my cloth diapering journey, which would have looked something like this:

Yes, in case you're wondering, I did in fact just post that on my personal page just to take a screenshot and delete. HA!

My point is, troubleshooting groups are simply for that. Don't go looking for trouble if you haven't already experienced issues! I would highly encourage you to test the laundry waters on your own before you do too much research. Start with whatever detergent you're using with your regular laundry, or switch to something more natural if your reason for cloth diapering is trying to eliminate harsh chemicals from being against your baby's sensitive skin. If mainstream detergent is something you prefer, that's great! But I will say, I've had people come up to me and tell me how frustrated they are when they post into a group asking for natural detergent options based on their own personal preferences and/or skin sensitivities only to have a dog pile of responses saying, "You shouldn't use natural, they won't get your diapers clean. Tide is the only thing that works." While Tide does in fact work for so many families (and again, that's great if this applies to you!) there are many families who are looking for a good nontoxic laundry alternative.

So I asked for recommendations on the Spray Pal page and we had some great responses. This post is for detergents in general:

General Laundry Tips for cloth diapers

And this post is for those looking for a more natural alternative:

Natural Detergent Tips for cloth diapers

The biggest takeaways I can offer personally are these:

1. We successfully cloth diapered both kids with natural detergents and zero issues. Here are all the brands we have used and can recommend:

2. Many issues can be prevented by following these tips:
  • Spray poopy diapers and super full overnight diapers with your Spray Pal diaper sprayer and shield before putting them in your pail liner.
  • Do a short wash cycle first and then a full wash cycle with detergent to get them extra clean.
  • If you do experience issues, talk to someone local first who will know your water better than a giant FB group.
If you ever want a somewhat smaller, less intimidating place to ask questions or troubleshoot issues, feel free to join us in The Cloth Diaper Experiment Facebook group! We hope you found this helpful. If you have any cloth diaper laundry tips you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!