Never thought about cloth diapering? Grab a coffee and let's talk. There's a whole new world out there, and for me, it all started with cloth diapers...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Welcome to The Diaper Lady

I am a former mainstream parent who fell into cloth diapering on accident. When that happened, the door to a whole new world was opened! Decisions that I once let doctors make for my baby became very different, from vaccinating, to making my own baby food, and even SIDS prevention measures I first learned about on the internet. What I've learned is that natural parenting is about doing what's best for our babies, rather than doing what everyone else is doing, even if the advice comes from a doctor.

My introduction to natural parenting was through cloth diapering groups, which I joined to learn more about cloth diapers. It didn't take long to realize that Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers were the hot thing on the market. Before long, I had both my two month old and twenty-one month old in Fuzzi Bunz diapers full time. I had already practiced many attachment parenting techniques such as baby wearing, room-sharing, and breastfeeding- though I didn't know they were called "attachment parenting" at the time.

A few months later, I learned about the BabeSafe mattress cover, which was perfect timing,
because my daughter was approaching 6 months and I was tired of fearing "the worst!" This product  had a 100% successful SIDS prevention track record for over a decade- surely it would work for us, too!

Soon after, I learned about the danger of chemicals in personal care and cleaning products, and I switched over to natural baby care, and even started making our own cleaning products!

When my focus began changing from cloth diapers to other health related products, I started Eve's Best. I now have many other websites and blogs relevant to sharing what I feel is the common sense approach to daily living. Enjoy your visit and let me know if you need anything!

Cloth Diapers Overview

When my son was born, there was no question what I would put on his bottom 24/7... disposable diapers. What else was there? Weren't those "cloth diapers" at the store supposed to be used as burp cloths? mean people still use those as DIAPERS? Why in the world would they do that?!

Yes, people still use those, but not me. Those rectangular pieces of cotton cloth (prefolds) and even diaper pins are still used, but people who are afraid of that need to realize that there are MANY more choices available to them, and they DON'T have to use disposable diapers! To make it a little easier for you, I will tell you what I've discovered about cloth diapering and the choices available, in hopes that you will find something that sounds appealing enough to make the switch.

So what ARE your options? Below are some examples of diaper types and definitions. While some die-hard naturalists would never use anything else but prefolds and wool diaper covers, you might be more interested in the cloth diapers which are more like disposables, such as all-in-ones or pocket diapers. Or perhaps you are kind of in the middle and prefer fitted diapers with a separate cover. No matter where you fit in, there is definitely a diaper out there that your baby will fit in that you will be happy with, too! Here we go...


These are the rectangular diapers that were once folded and pinned on. They can be made from all kinds of cotton fabrics like flannel, gauze, birdseye, and others. For the most absorbency, they should be made from 100% cotton or hemp. These diapers can also be put on with a "Snappi" or can be laid into a diaper wrap (a special cover) and held on by it. Some people even still use pins! They are available in assorted sizes, and you will find a few popular kinds- Chinese Prefolds (CPFs) Indian prefolds, or Diaper Service Quality (DSQ). From what I have read about the two, CPFs seem to be the more popular, but it always comes down to your personal preference. Prefolds work better the more they are washed and generally need to be washed 3-4 times in hot water to reach acceptable absorbency.
PROS- They are the cheapest solution for diapering, and they can be re-used later on for burp cloths and cleaning rags, or even to diaper subsequent children.
CONS- Unless you use the diaper wraps to put on the prefold, it will require a little more work to get the prefold on (pins, Snappi, etc.) and they will need to be folded correctly if you pin or Snappi. They are also quite bulky. You will also need to use a waterproof cover, or make sure you change your baby immediately after soiling (which you should be doing anyway!)

Contour Cloth Diapers

Contour cloth diapers are a cross between prefolds and fitteds. They can be used in a diaper wrap similar to the way prefolds are held on by the waterproof cover/wrap. They are hourglass shaped like a fitted, but do not have elastic or means of closing attached to them. They must be held on by pinning, Snappi, or diaper wrap.
PROS- Cheaper than fitteds, they are easier to use than prefolds because there is no folding. They are also easy to make yourself, which could save even more money.
CONS- You sacrifice some absorbency by using these instead of prefolds. Compared to fitteds, they will leak more because they don't have the elastic to hold in those explosive poops we all know so well (and if you're new at this...just wait!) This may result in having to wash covers more frequently, because what the diaper doesn't hold in will often get onto the cover. So unless you want to wash more frequently, you will need to purchase a few more covers.

Fitted Cloth Diapers

Also called "fitteds," fitted cloth diapers are hourglass shaped, similar to disposables, and will have elastics along the legs, and probably front and back as well. They are made from either cotton knits or wovens (knit has stretch, wovens don't) and also from hemp. They will usually either snap or close with touch tape or Velcro. Depending upon the absorbency of the diaper, you may need an additional lay-in soaker. The core of the diaper is called the soaker. A lay-in soaker (extra layer of absorbent fabric) lays inside the diaper and will touch the baby's bottom.
PROS- Fitted diapers hold in explosive poops quite well, as long as you have a good fit. They are easy to put on, and come in cute prints if you want your baby to go coverless.
CONS- You may need a waterproof cover. They take longer to dry than prefolds or other diapers that come apart or unfold. (Some are made with a soaker "flap" sewn in just one spot in the diaper so that the diaper will dry faster).

Cloth Diaper Covers

A cloth diaper cover is a waterproof outer cover that fits over the cloth diaper to help protect your baby's clothes and bedding. They are made of vinyl, PUL (polyurethane laminate), Pro-care, wool, fleece, acrylic...generally anything waterproof or that doesn't hold water can be made into a cover. You will find covers that snap on, Velcro (or touch tape) on, or even pull-on. Covers are more commonly used at night or for outings. Some people will never go without a cover, others only use them when necessary. Some covers are also "wraps" that will actually wrap a prefold or contour diaper on so that you can skip the pins.
PROS- Will protect clothes, bedding, or car seats from getting wet, especially for "heavy wetters." Can be reused; they don't have to be changed as often as diapers so you don't need that many.
CONS- Can be an extra step in the diapering process. Lets less air get to baby's bottom. They don't hold up as well as diapers and usually need to be laundered differently.

All-In-One Cloth Diapers

These are just what they say- the diaper and cover in one. Very much like a disposable, there is only one step to the diapering process. With All-In-Ones (AIOs), the waterproof fabric is attached to the cotton/absorbent part and all are laundered together.
PROS- Great for day care, church, or dads who refuse to use anything else. Easy to use.
CONS- It is difficult to get these clean. Water can't circulate to the innermost core of the diaper, and water can't come in through the waterproof part, so you can imagine what hangs on inside the diaper. It is also difficult to dry them and when it stays a little damp deep in the diaper...I won't even go there. Let's just say things will grow. The waterproof fabric will wear out faster, as you have to launder it along with the other soiled part. If you can find an AIO with a sewn in flap soaker, that would be your best bet. But I would not use these for full time use!

Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are the newest type of diaper on the market. Generally, but not always, the diaper is made with a fleece lining and a waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL) outer. All edges are sewn together, except for an opening in the back, which is where the "pocket" comes from. Inside the pocket you can put anything from prefolds to custom made inserts to microfiber towels. You can even put a kitchen towel in it if you get desperate!

When the diaper is soiled, you simply remove the insert and put both pieces in your pail. A clean pocket diaper and insert must be used each time. In a pinch, however, I have been known to lay a towel inside a "wet" pocket diaper and it worked just fine. The benefit of fleece, or other polyester fabric such as microsuede, is that because these fabrics don't hold onto wetness, the baby's urine flows through the lining and is absorbed by the insert inside the pocket. It pulls wetness away from baby's bottom like a disposable diaper (but without the gel!)  Because the diaper can be disassembled for washing, some are even making cotton pocket diapers because they dry faster, and some prefer natural fabrics like cotton.
  • They come in lots of styles, so you are sure to find one that fits your baby well.
  • You can adjust the absorbency for your baby by using extra inserts for heavy wetters, or fewer for light wetters.
  • They are very adjustable, and are available in one size options as well. 
  • They hold in poop and pee very well as long as you have a good fit.
  • The pocket diaper is a great choice for dads, babysitters, and day care workers who want a one step diapering process.
  • They are the more costly choice. Custom designed diapers are the most expensive on the market, but as a basic diaper, pocket diapers are generally at the top of the list.
  • It is more difficult to tell if a baby is wet in a fleece lined diaper. Other caregivers will not know your baby needs changing unless they take the time to notice how a wet insert feels (sort of a heavy feeling).
  • Some choices do not hold up well. Avoid diapers with a cotton PUL outer if you plan on using your diapers for another baby. These are usually the cute prints (some prints are not cotton- make sure you ask). Cotton PUL pocket diapers will fall apart much, much faster than those made from synthetic fabrics. Cotton also wicks, so even though the waterproofing is laminated onto the cotton, wetness will find its way around the front of the diaper and wet baby's clothes in the process. Cotton PUL diapers are better for daytime use for this reason. Nighttime diapers get more saturated, and they are more likely to wick the wetter they get; daytime diapers are typically changed before they get this wet. 
Fuzzi Bunz, the first pocket diaper on the market, was once known as a nighttime diaper, but people quickly realized that they make a great full time diaper. The microfiber inserts are a favorite for many pocket diaper users because of the high absorbency rate while keeping the diaper trim as well. Others prefer hemp inserts, or a combination of microfiber and hemp. While hemp is a natural product, the hemp inserts don't hold up as well as the microfiber inserts.

Why Cloth Diaper?

If you are thinking, "Eeeeewwwww! How gross!" then you need to get educated about cloth diapering. I thought the same thing when someone first mentioned to me that they use cloth diapers. I was very ignorant about them and put up every argument I could think of: they lead to more rashes, you have to change them more often, they are as environmentally detrimental as disposables, and way more inconvenient. Why in the world would I switch? I started doing research, and the picture in my head of the old cloth diapers (you know, the ones we use for burp cloths) and pins quickly faded away. What I found was a slew of mommas out there who knew WAY more about diapering than I could imagine, and they were making their own diapers! To quash the arguments I had previously given- here are the things that I learned:

Myth 1. Rashes. ANY baby who is left in a wet diaper, whether cloth or disposable is prone to rashes. The fact is, babies are more likely to develop rashes in disposables because they do not allow the sensitive areas to breathe, and babies are more likely to react to the chemicals in disposables. Many moms started cloth diapering BECAUSE their babies were suffering constant rashes from the chemicals in disposables that we cannot even pronounce.

Myth 2. You have to change them more often. Well, shouldn't we be changing our babies when they wet or soil their diapers? With disposables we try to get our money's worth  so we leave them on until we can feel the squishiness (you know what I'm talking about) and sometimes until the gel inside is bursting at the seams.

No matter what diaper you use, your baby should be changed as quickly as possible after soiling or wetting. Would you want to sit in a wet diaper all day? Also, if you use a polyester-lined diaper, the liner gives the same stay dry effect as the disposable diaper. The lining of the diaper wicks the wetness away from baby's body, making it a perfect diaper for night time. They can be used during the day as well.

Myth 3. They are not environmentally superior to disposables. This is a common misconception. You would think that using all the water to wash the diapers, and all that detergent (don't you have to use bleach?) would really lower the environmental friendliness of cloth diapering. But it doesn't. To make disposable diapers, MANY trees have to be torn down to make the fluffy wood pulp, bleaching with chlorine gas gives them the nice white color we all like (which produces toxic chemicals), and dangerous chemicals (the gel) are added which has caused many problems for babies. This doesn't even touch on the non-renewable natural gas needed to make the waterproof backing and packaging; and THEN they have to be driven to your local store, right?

Let's look at cloth. Even IF cloth diapers were as dangerous to make, because they are used over and over again, they far outdo disposables in environmental friendliness. You do use water to wash them, but don't you use water to wash your clothes? You don't have to use bleach, and as a matter of fact, VERY little detergent is used to get them clean- 1/2 to 1/4 the recommended amount. Any time you are able to reuse something instead of throwing it away, you are helping the environment. And while we're on the topic, have you read your disposable diaper package lately? Did you know that you are supposed to dump poop from disposables into the potty before you throw them away? Our landfills are not set up to handle the enormous amounts of poop that are filling them up, but our water systems are. If you prefer using disposables, please flush the poop.

Myth 4. Cloth diapers are not convenient. Well, neither are the rashes your baby gets, the asthma caused by the chemicals in disposables, driving to the store at midnight because you just ran out of diapers...for that matter, changing a baby isn't convenient at all! Take it from me, I have two in diapers as I write this and I am changing diapers all day long. There is a little more work involved in cloth diapering, but the benefits far outweigh the extra time.

Since we have already established that we are supposed to dump poop with either disposables or cloth, I will go on to the other things people might find inconvenient: storing dirty diapers and washing them. I use a regular trash can with a lid. Nothing special. And the good thing about cloth is that they don't smell as bad as disposables when they are soiled. Disposable diaper users (I once was one) search far and wide for a diaper "genie" or some other gizmo that will get rid of the diaper pail odor. Honestly, we store our cloth in a trash can in a very small bathroom and you wouldn't know it was in there if I didn't tell you!

As for the laundry, that was my biggest fear. I hate laundry. But when considering cloth, I discovered what I hated about laundry was the folding, hanging, putting don't have to do any of that with the diapers. You can toss them all in a cute basket and store them that way, and pull them out as you need them. The machine does all the work!! With a cloth diaper, you remove it, put it in the pail (dump out any poop), wait until you have enough to wash, and then wash. And no more lugging out 25 lbs. of soiled diapers every week! The only thing I don't like about using cloth: the sticky poops that don't fall off the diaper. We have a hose for that, connected to our potty.

Other benefits of using cloth?
  • They are MUCH cheaper. You will spend over $2,000 for disposable wipes and diapers, and only $200 to $600 for cloth. And the best part: if you hold onto your cloth diapers, you can diaper subsequent children for FREE! 
  • Baby's comfort. I hated wearing pads during my period- I certainly don't want my baby (who spends 24/7 in diapers) to feel the same yucky I felt. Cloth diapers breathe, and are much softer to baby's delicate skin.
  • Potty training is easier. When they can feel the wetness, toddlers are much more likely to want out of diapers. Cloth diapered babies are more aware of their eliminating functions because when they wet, they feel it.
  • They are more attractive. This benefit was irrelevant to me until I had been using cloth diapers for a while. A diaper's a diaper, right? NOT! You can get cloth diapers in so many cute fabrics and colors. Photographers prefer cloth diapers because they are so much cuter, and I agree. Disposables are a dime a dozen (don't you wish?!) and it's rare to find a baby with a cute cloth diaper.
  • For more facts and statistics, visit Real Diaper Association.
Now, if you are thinking, "Eeeeeewww! How gross!" I hope you are thinking about disposables and not cloth. Because it is YOUR baby's poop (which doesn't smell, right?), your baby's bottom, and your baby's environment that disposable diapers are affecting the most. And if you want to do what's best for your baby, well, I think you'd agree that cloth is the way to go.

Washing Cloth Diapers

Washing routines vary according to where you live, hardness of water, etc. but I will share my simple routine that has worked for some time. I have probably tried EVERY washing method and too many detergents to count, so I consider myself an expert when it comes to getting Fuzzi Bunz clean! These instructions are for Fuzzi Bunz diapers, but in my opinion, they are the toughest to get clean because polyester tends to hold onto smells. So you can do this with any other diaper and should find it easy and effective.

First, when you remove a wet diaper from your baby, you will need to shake the insert out of the pocket. Put both into a covered pail. If the diaper is poopy, dump the poop into the toilet. If there is sticky poop on the diaper still, you can swish it around in the toilet. I recommend getting a spray hose connected to your toilet line that you can use to spray off diapers. This is not only much easier, but your husband can get involved with the diapering process by getting out his tools and doing something mechanical! Don't have a husband? Well, it's actually easy enough for anyone to do it! You can buy these on-line or you can get the parts at Home Depot and do it yourself.

When it's time to wash the diapers, set the water level on the appropriate level (probably medium for one diapered child, large for two diapered children) and run them through a rinse cycle. After this, run a long hot wash. Put in 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent. The only detergents I can strongly recommend are Sensi-clean and Allens Naturally. I alternate these two to help keep detergent build up down. Do not use All Free and Clear or Melaleuca. Both of these caused the fleece to repel and caused leaks. There are others that will as well, and if you start having leaks out of the blue it is probably your detergent. Also, detergents with strong perfumes will hold in stink.

You may want to rinse out the diaper pail, but it is not necessary every time.  When it is finished washing, run a short hot wash/cold rinse cycle with nothing added to help rinse out any leftover detergent. After this cycle, remove a few diapers and smell them. If they don't smell clean, rinse again. Rinse until they smell clean. You may need anywhere from 1-3 rinses.

If your diapers don't seem to get clean, you may need to adjust your water level. If you have too much water the diapers will just float around in the machine and not benefit from the agitation provided by the correct level. If you are washing less than 12 diapers, you may need a "small" water level. But more than 18 diapers will require a "large" water level. It depends on your machine, and the best way to judge is to open up your washer and watch what is going on.

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you don't need to do anything with the poop; just dump the entire soiled diaper (shaking out the insert) into your pail. Once you start your baby on solids, you will need to do a little more because the poop will start to smell at this point, and will see...LOL.

Washers require maintenance in order to prevent scum build up. If you notice a bad smell in your washer when you remove your clean clothes, it is time for maintenance! Here are instructions on how to do this.

Cloth Diapering IS For Everyone!

I am a busy parent. Are any parents not busy? I have a 27 month old son and an 8 month old daughter. Unfortunately for my son, I learned many of my mistakes on him that I now do differently for my daughter. He’s turned out all right (so far!) but I feel I’ve learned a lot along the way about not just doing for our children, but doing what’s best.

I stumbled into cloth diapering on accident. My son had been wearing disposables for a year and a half, and then my daughter came along. It’s amazing how your viewpoint changes when you see twice the number of dirty diapers leaving your house each week! Yikes! I still never considered cloth, because I didn’t want to mess with those pesky rectangular poop catchers that you somehow had to fashion onto the baby with pins without drawing blood, and well enough to hold in poop. People who used cloth were crazy!

Then I caught wind of a new cloth diapering generation, where diapers were fitted, contoured, with snaps or Velcro. They had elastic, colors and fun prints! Some even had the cover built in, and some were even self-cleaning! Okay, maybe not self-cleaning, but these things were cool. Different styles and makers can be found on the internet, where work at home moms dominate the market place. You will not find the best selection at big name baby stores like Babies R Us, because I guess they don’t think the 15% of babies who are cloth diapered are a big enough market. There are also so many different kinds available, they probably wouldn’t know where to start.

Even with all of the cool diapering products out there, most people run from the thought of cloth diapering because they abhor laundry. And adding more to their current load is just out of the question. But it really isn’t that bad. I was afraid after my $200 investment I would grow tired of the laundry and give up. Not only did I keep it up, I added my son into our cloth diapering venture and we have been at it now for 7 months. I won’t pretend that I’ve never thought to myself, “I have to wash diapers again?!” But for the most part, it’s so easy that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Diapers don’t have to be soaked in a wet bucket. They don’t have to be dunked and swished in the toilet. They don’t even require much detergent! Only about half to one-fourth the recommended amount is necessary to get the diapers clean. Any more than that, and you might have detergent residue problems that will actually make the diapers stink. When I change a diaper, I wipe with a wet cloth, dump any poop into the toilet, and then place the dirty diaper into the pail. With disposables, I would do the same thing (and yes, you are supposed to dump poop from a disposable as well) except the diaper goes into the trash- adding to ALL of the disposable diapers that have still not disintegrated from the very first disposable diaper ever used. Diapers don’t require bleach to be “clean.” If any stains remain after a good washing, you lay them in the sun for a few hours, and the sun will bleach them out naturally.

And most importantly, you don’t have to be rich, or poor for that matter, to cloth diaper. The initial investment is substantial, but in the long run you end up saving thousands of dollars. Even more savings add up when you use the same diapers on subsequent children. The most expensive cloth diaper out there will still save you big bucks when compared to disposables. And the cheapest- the good ol’ prefolds that you fold and pin (or Snappi) are still used by die hard naturalists who want nothing but 100% pure or organic cotton next to their babies’ bums. There is something available for everyone and every size baby. If one style doesn’t seem to work, believe me, there will be others that do. There are even stay at home moms that will make your baby custom fit diapers. And no matter which version you choose, you can bet that they will be more comfy than the paper and plastic you are currently putting on your baby’s most sensitive body parts.

I really do believe that cloth diapering is what’s best for our babies. It’s healthier, more comfy, and better for the environment that we will be handing down to our children. I am a busy parent. But not so busy that I can’t take a little extra time each week to do what’s best for my babies. And if you think I’m crazy, you should talk to one of those elimination communication parents that don’t use diapers at all! ;o)

I wrote this article many years ago and reading it brings back memories of my kids in diapers! They are now 13 and 15, and before long I will hopefully have grand kids in cloth diapers. If you are a mom with a diapered baby, cherish these years, because they fly by fast!

Baby Wearing

For mainstream parents, the term "baby wearing" may seem very odd. Why would you want to "wear" a
baby...and HOW do you "wear" a baby?! When my son was born, I had seen the infant carriers in stores and before I gave up had tried 3-4 of them. Mainstream baby companies tend to make everything with buckles, snaps, straps, loops, and pockets to make their products more appealing. All those bells and whistles also get in the way. So I wanted to address a few pointers on baby wearing so that ALL parents can get a feel for what it is and its benefits.
Baby wearing is just like it sounds...strapping your baby onto you and going about your day. Why in the world would someone want to do this?! Here are a few reasons:
  • Baby wearing helps satisfy the baby's need for closeness, touch and affection.
  • Baby wearing promotes and strengthens parents' emotional bond with their baby.
  • The movement that naturally results from carrying your baby stimulates his neurological development.
  • Babies cry less when worn or held.
  • Holding helps regulate your baby's temperature and heart rate.
  • Baby feels more secure.
  • Baby wearing facilitates easy outings and travel.
Companies like Graco, Cosco, Fisher Price, and Safety First just LOVE pregnant women! Especially if it's your first baby. They have convinced us that we need travel systems so that we can carry our baby around in a plastic seat all day, and swings, exersaucers, play gyms, and bouncy seats. I know that there is a place for all of these. Both of my children were very active at early ages, and I could not wear them for long before they wanted down. But we think that because all of these are available, we must have them all, and from day one. Not so!
Baby wearing can be hard on you. If you start from the beginning, you will get stronger as your baby gains weight. Sort of like how we get "mommy arms" from holding and picking up children all day. It is much easier to leave your baby in swings, exersaucers, and bouncy seats, but if you want what is BEST, then spend more of your day wearing your baby and use your gadgets for moments when you are doing things that are
impossible to do while wearing your baby. If you are a working parent, it is especially important to wear your baby during the times you have together. If it is important to you, you may even be able to find a caregiver that will wear your baby during the day while you work. I have a friend who wore twins that she cared for. And you would not believe the things she could do while wearing them!
I feel it is important for moms to know about baby wearing because it would have helped me a lot when my son was born. He was a high needs baby, and wanted to be held ALL the time. He cried constantly. He would not sleep. But at that time, I wouldn't have even known what to look up on the internet for help! The carriers I tried were not working, and I tried the Nojo sling with no success, probably because I didn't have help using it. But now you can find all kinds of styles and prints of slings, and moms (and dads) are wearing their babies all kinds of ways.
So what kind of carrier do you need? I wish it were that simple. We are all made differently and want different things. Some parents like the bells and whistles on the carriers found at stores. Many parents like a simple piece of cloth that ties around in a certain way. There are so many options out there! If this is the first time you've heard of baby wearing, try a search on the term under Google or Yahoo. If you have someone close to you, it would help to try on carriers so that you can find one that is comfortable. If the first one you try isn't comfortable, try another one until you are happy. Sometimes it is just a matter of tying it differently or pulling it tighter or more loosely. Just find one that works because it is well worth it in the end!
Our thanks to Heather at Mom4Life for furnishing baby wearing pictures for this article.


I don't know everything when it comes to breastfeeding, but I do have some unique information based on my personal experiences. I planned to breastfeed my son, but did not plan on having a high needs baby. I didn't even know there was a name for his behavior until much, much later. So even though I had the best of intentions, I did not know how to handle this difficult baby and how he made me feel. The biggest problem was that I didn't know why my baby was crying and constantly wondered if it was my milk or something else. And if it was something else, what was it?!
After two weeks of trying to nurse my son, I gave up, and pumped milk for the next two months, supplementing his formula. After that, he was on formula exclusively, which I hope to NEVER have to do again. All those bottles were such a pain, and I know that formula was not the best thing for my son and that was very hard.

Breastfeeding Support

The most important thing I can tell new parents about breastfeeding a high needs baby, or any baby having difficulties nursing, is that it requires LOTS of support. If a new mommy is struggling, the last thing she wants to hear is that, "formula isn't so bad," or, "if it's easier, let's just give him a bottle..." She needs encouragement, sleep, meals cooked for her, sleep, foot rubs, sleep, and lots of love, not to mention sleep. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I told my husband, "No matter what happens, I am relying on you to help me nurse this baby. Don't let me use formula if it's easier. Do everything else that possibly needs to be done in the house so that I can work on my nursing relationship with our baby. I am depending on you to encourage me no matter how much I may want to quit." Luckily, it was much easier with my daughter, but I felt very comfortable that I would have the support I needed if we had problems. It still wasn't easy, but once the first four weeks or so went by, it got easier and easier, especially because she was sleeping so well and I was getting more rest.

Breastfeeding Is NOT Always Easy

That is the second thing I like to tell new mommies. It isn't always easy. With my son, I kept thinking I was doing it wrong, because the class I had taken made it seem natural, easy, and painless. I didn't learn until after I had weaned him that it CAN be painful, and usually is, to an extent. It is not excruciating, but it can be uncomfortable until your body gets used to having somebody sucking on it 8 hours a day!
If you do feel excruciating pain, there could be something wrong. There are a number of places to call or contact if you have problems. If it is during normal office hours you can try your midwife or doctor, or even your local La Leche League. They will be able to tell you what the problem might be, and remedies to fix it.

Breastfeeding Problems

Blocked Ducts and Mastitis

I suffered from mastitis (a breast infection) with my son, and it was very bad. The breast pain was nothing compared to the way my body felt. I had a fever of 103, chills, and could not sit up because I was so exhausted. Mastitis can develop from a number of things, usually from having a blocked milk duct that gets infected. A blocked milk duct can be described as a localized ache in the breast. To prevent or relieve them, nurse often, use different positions, and if necessary, use warm compresses before you nurse or pump. Because my daughter slept for such long stretches, when I felt a blocked duct coming on, I would pump while she was sleeping and store the milk for later. To help relieve the duct, I would massage the painful spot while I pumped and usually it was gone within hours.


One thing almost every nursing mom experiences is engorgement. This is where either the milk supply has finally come in, or baby has slept a long stretch and a feeding was skipped. Engorgement is characterized by hard, plump breasts that are somewhat painful. They can be relieved by taking a warm shower and hand expressing a little milk. Cabbage leaves also help. Try applying chilled cabbage leaves for 15 minutes, but be very aware that relying on this or using this technique too often will lead to diminished milk supply. You can also pump a little bit before the baby nurses. It is harder for the baby to latch on to an engorged breast. By following some of these steps, not only will you be more comfortable, your baby will not become frustrated and will be able to latch on like she normally would.
Booby Tubes 


Something I was terrified to get was thrush, which is a yeast infection. It is very difficult to get rid of and painful as well. It can be easily diagnosed by a phone consult, and your doctor or midwife can give you something to help it go away. Symptoms include cracked, swollen or red nipples and possibly itching, flaking, or a burning sensation of the nipples. The baby's mouth may have white patches on the tongue, cheeks, insides of the lips, or gums.

Cracked Nipples

Something that lots of breastfeeding moms suffer is cracked nipples. Breastfeeding properly will help prevent cracked nipples, but just one improper feeding can lead to an awful disaster. Once they are cracked, you have to pamper them in order for them to heal. The best thing to do is rub in some expressed milk after baby nurses, and let as much air to your breasts as possible. If you are wearing a button down shirt, leave it open. Wear cotton shirts or night clothes. Naked is best, especially once you realize that a shirt rubbing on cracked nipples can be excruciating. My solution to this was wearing my bra, but unhooking the shells so that they were open, but covering my nipples and protecting them from a shirt rubbing back and forth on them. If they don't seem to heal, try lanolin by Lansinoh. It goes a long way, and can be used later for diaper rashes if necessary.

Baby Allergies

Sometimes, babies don't respond very well to our breast milk and you may see reactions such as general fussiness, eczema, runny nose, and even bloody diapers. All of these are signs of allergies. BUT, don't worry! Your baby is not allergic to your breast milk, but to something that you are eating. The usual culprit is dairy, but it really can be anything. Cybele Pascal, author of The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, was not sure what was wrong with her baby, but after trial and error, soon found out that he was allergic to a LOT of stuff. Her second son, Montgomery, faired no better. But lucky for them, their Mama was an expert at cooking and proved to do just as well with limited allowable foods! She shares her recipes with the world in her book, including 200 recipes which eliminates the top eight food allergens as identified by the FDA. These include milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. If you suspect that your baby has similar allergies, you should definitely get her book. We love the recipes and it has something for everyone, no matter what cuisine you prefer!

Milk Production

There are lots of other things that can go wrong with breastfeeding, including milk production, and failure to thrive. You would assume that if you had plenty of milk your baby would grow, but it's also important that your baby get the right kinds of milk- both foremilk and hind milk. If your baby doesn't seem to be gaining weight, what do you do? If you are certain that you have enough milk, the best thing to do is get a baby scale and weigh her before and after feedings. This way you will know how much she is getting. It is hard to realize how much your baby is getting when you can't count down the ounces like you can with a bottle. We usually know they are getting enough because they are able to sleep after nursing (they don't seem hungry), and they gain weight. If you determine that she is getting enough milk, is she getting the hind milk? There are three basic "kinds" of breast milk:
No More Milk Tea
  • Colostrum is the yellowish breast milk that is produced in the first few days after baby's birth and before normal lactation begins. Colostrum is especially rich in nutrients and antibodies, and is the perfect food for a newborn baby. Even if you have decided to use formula rather than breast milk, you may wish to breastfeed your newborn for at least a few days after birth, so that he or she can receive the antibody protection and nutritional benefits offered by colostrum.
  • Foremilk is the milk which is first drawn during a feeding. It is generally thin and lower in fat content, satisfying the baby's thirst and liquid needs.
  • Hindmilk is the milk which follows foremilk during a feeding. It is richer in fat content and is high in calories. The high fat and calorie content of this milk is important for your baby's health and continuing growth. Make sure to let your baby drain one breast before moving on to the other, to ensure that she receives all the benefits of both foremilk and hindmilk. The hindmilk is important not only for weight gain, but for brain development as well. Babies need fat for so many bodily functions, but especially for the brain.

The Breastfeeding Mom

This leads us to you and how you are taking care of yourself. Let's face it, right after having a baby is the last time we want to cook healthy meals that will benefit our baby the most. Nor do we want to drink gallons of water. But even though you've delivered your baby, you still need to watch what you eat if you are breastfeeding him. You may also find, quite by accident, foods that will upset your little one that can include chocolate; spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chili pepper); citrus fruits and their juices, like orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit (also including strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple); the gassy veggies (onion, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and peppers); and fruits with a laxative effect, such as cherries and prunes. Another big one is dairy. I've known a few moms who had to quit dairy while nursing their babies, and they later turned out to have dairy allergies. You may have no problems with foods on this list and may even find that there are others that your baby has trouble with that aren't on the list! But other than these foods aversions, you really need to try your hardest to eat a well balanced meal, with a variety of foods, AND nutritional supplements. Notice I did not say prenatal vitamins.

Prenatal Vitamins and Nutritional Supplementation

Most prenatal vitamins are not worth the money you spend on them, and if you haven't already, find an alternative. I recommend Life Force Multiples by Source Naturals. It is not labeled as a prenatal vitamin, but it is chalk full of goodness for before/during/and after pregnancy.

Too Much Milk?

Speaking of an ample supply, one thing that can be aggravating in the beginning is squirting and leaking milk. Usually once your supply is well established you don't have these anymore, but I know moms who still had them months after their babies were born. The worst, however, is having a newborn baby get so much milk that she pulls away only to get a huge squirt in the face. If this happens, you can express some milk before your baby nurses, so that she doesn't get a big rush of milk. Leaking also happens when your breasts become full and the baby is either sleeping longer than usual or is not with you. Breast pads are available to absorb these leaks, and they fit right inside your bra. Be sure to change wet breast pads, because it is not healthy to keep wet pads on your breasts. Use cloth for better air circulation, and unless you are going out of the house, avoid the waterproof pads that prevent air circulation. Disposable pads are the worst, and cotton is the best to use for breast pads.

What about Breastfeeding in Public?

To learn about your rights as a breastfeeding mom, read this article by Elizabeth Pantley on Breastfeeding in Public. This topic has stirred up a lot of commotion recently in the US. Most of us form our decision about breastfeeding in public based on our own self-image and insecurities. There is nothing wrong with a modest mommy who only wants to nurse at home. But for others who believe the breast is more than a sexual object for men to ogle, feel free to feed your baby as necessary when out and about. It is your right!

Breastfeeding Your Toddler

Some of you new to natural parenting are cringing right now. I mean WHO would want to breastfeed a TODDLER?! Unfortunately, many parents feel that one year, or even less, of breastfeeding is enough. But if you really do your research, you will find that the health benefits of extending that period are well worth any stigma you might associate with a child who can ASK to nurse. We tend to transfer the child from breast to whole milk, and unfortunately, cow's milk is not particularly healthy. Not to mention, an early weaner might find that her toddler is allergic to milk or dairy. And THAT is a pain. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that "breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."  The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years. You can read more about breastfeeding your toddler.