I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all. You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting the announcement post. This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world!
Last year during the FHWC, I used flour sack towels and Thirsties covers. This year, I have decided to change things up a bit, because when it came time to experiment with folds and such, I found that my baby has grown quite a bit over the past year, and I was finding it difficult to figure out a way to use those old flour sack towels in a way that would be effective. I really wanted to be able to use my regular wool covers, but that requires using a fastener on the flat. I absolutely loathe Snappis, by the way. My baby is now 18 months old and weighs about 27 lbs. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a fold that would give enough rise and enough absorbancy where it counts and still be able to be fastened with a Snappi or pins.
So, my solution? Receiving blankets. Well swaddling blankets, actually. I have quite a few swaddling blankets that I made last year for my big baby who liked to be swaddled up until she was about 10 months old. I couldn’t afford those lovely Aidan & Anais ones, which were the perfect size for a big baby (and nice and thin, so they aren’t too hot), so I took it upon myself to be resourceful and try to solve my problem with things I already had on hand. Fabric. Soft, cotton, flannel fabric. I was not interested in anything fancy, so I simply took a pair of pinking shears and cut large rectangles of flannel. I was not too strict with the measurements, either. Most are 36″x45″ (a yard cut of standard fabric, with selvages intact). I washed them and trimmed the strings off, and now they have soft, fringey edges.
I had made about 6 of these swaddling blankets, and as I sat pondering what to do about my dilemma with the flour sack towels, they popped into my mind. I have recommended folks using receiving blankets as flats before, because 30″x30″ is a standard size for both blankets and flat diapers (genius?). The 30″x40″ ones are even better for a larger baby, because they can be quarter-folded and used just like a prefold. The blankets I made are a bit larger than that, but I figured I’d try them out and see if I could make them work. I found that quarter-folding them and then laying my baby on them with the longer part horizontal (unlike with a prefold, where the longer part is vertical — running up and down the child’s body) works great. This way, the rise was not too long for her, and there was plenty of room for a fastener.
I brought out the diaper pins (like I said, I detest Snappis). With some of the blankets, I am even able to get away with one pin in the middle, since there is enough fabric on either side to overlap in the middle, and I just pin through all 3 sections (which ends up actually being 12 layers of flannel, but my pins get through it easily). Yes, there is a lot of extra fabric, and if I were to use this as my regular diaper system, I would take some measurements and trim the blankets down to a more practical size (and zig-zag the edges for a cleaner look, like the one pictured above). But for now, I’m leaving them be. I liked the way this worked so well that I went to my sewing room to pull out more flannel and make more of these swaddling blankets! I think I now have an even dozen. Perfect!
The best part of this (other than there is a lot more absorbancy and softness than the flour sack towels) is that I get to use my wool soakers! And the extra fabric is no biggie, because the way my soakers are made, there is a lot of coverage of the bum and upper thigh, so all of that fabric the blankets leave around the legs fits just fine under the soakers, even though I do tend to tuck some of the excess blanket in with my fingers after pinning.
Oh, and another best thing: such adorable “diapers!”
Other than the blankets and wool soakers, I am using my flannel wipes (most made by me, some out of the same fabric as the blankets) with my homemade wipe solution (1/4 cup each of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile liquid soap and organic olive oil, filled up to 1 gallon with water). For the handwashing part, I have an old-fashioned washboard (like the one pictured below) and 2 wooden drying racks (like this one). Last year I used old-fashioned lye soap to wash with, but this year I think I will try actual laundry detergent (All Free & Clear is what I’m using these days).