Wellness Wednesday: My Low-Maintenace, DIY, Non-toxic Beauty Routine

I know that many people are fed up with seeing posts online (mostly via Facebook) about essential oils, nail products, skin care, body wraps, eyelash extensions, etc. I apologize in advance because I am not trying to be one of “those people”. Simply put, I have found a few things that have been major game changers for me in my beauty routine, and I am just excited to share with you all. Before our son was born, keeping my hair and makeup well-kept was much easier. While I was always very health-conscious and concerned about using products that were environmentally friendly, I tended to use whatever worked best in the beauty department before I was a mom. Ever since I was pregnant with our son, my whole perspective on beauty products changed (previous post here). I started searching for natural options, and things free of all of the toxins. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least. Some things that I have tried did not go well.

I had actually planned to do this post months ago, but it took me a while to be able to put it all together. Plus, there were a few variations that I wanted to experiment with to make sure that I was giving the best possible advice.

The first thing in my repertoire is dry shampoo. I have very curly (frizzy) hair, and curly hair always tends to be dryer because of the uneven hair cuticle. One of the best ways to care for curly hair is to not wash it every day. That works great for a busy mom because it takes me a long time to blow dry my hair (air-drying is not an option for me…my hair is way too wild and it just gets too matted, tangled and unruly for me, despite a lifetime of trying everything and anything to get it to air-dry nicely). Let’s be honest though…skipping shampoos does wonders for my hair (and my time management), but my scalp is oily so it is kind of a double-edged sword. I used to buy those fancy dry shampoos in a bottle that you spray in your hair, which worked great. However the good ones are expensive, and full of pollutants and strange chemicals. I decided to try making my own dry shampoo, and this has been amazing.

Recipe:
1. 2 tablespoons corn starch
2. 2 tablespoons cocoa (or cacao) powder (omit for blonde hair)
3. 3-4 drops each dōTERRA essential oil: lemon (for cleansing), melaluca (also known as tea tree – for itching and cleansing), lavender (for cleansing and soothing), and peppermint (invigorating and refreshing).
4. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times until well blended.
5. Transfer contents to mason jar or other container.
6. When using, dab small amounts of the powder onto scalp with a makeup brush, massage into scalp, then brush thoroughly.

It helps with oilyness, itchy scalp, gives your hair a great refresh between washings, and saves tons of time (and money)!
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The next thing on my list is my recipe for the perfect detangler/leave-in conditioner/texture and shine spray for perfect beachy waves and curls. I use fresh aloe vera for a lot of things, especially when any of us gets a cut, scrape, bruise, rash, etc. It has such amazing soothing and healing properties for our skin, and I started to wonder if it would do the same for my hair. Spoiler alert…it does. 🙂 I have spent most of my life hating my hair, wishing that I had been born with anything other than such frizzy, unruly hair. I am not exaggerating by any means, but ever since I started making this spray, I have finally started loving my hair for the first time ever. See, major game changer, right?

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1. To start making the spray, a piece of fresh aloe vera plant is essential. Cut off a piece about an inch in length, and place it in a food processor or blender. Liquify the entire piece until it is mostly smooth and creamy.
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2. Then poor that mixture over a very fine mesh strainer. It is slow to strain, but you want to separate out all of the fresh juice, leaving behind the bigger chunks and bits.aliciainwonderlandblog
3. Then mix about 1 teaspoon of the aloe vera juice with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 2-3 teaspoons of filtered or distilled water, and 8-10 drops dōTERRA lavender oil (for soothing and healing the hair, as well as masking the scent of the raw aloe vera).
4. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle.
5. Spray onto hair before styling, when tangled, etc. Keep refrigerated between uses. Let sit out for a few minutes before using to reach room temperature, and shake very well before applying.

The other major breakthrough I’ve had with my hair lately has been with these jumbo foam curlers that I found at Target (similar ones here). My mom used to use foam curlers on my hair when I was a kid, and I wanted to try it out in an effort to use less heat styling. The first few attempts with the foam rollers were a bit disappointing. I even tried using them with things like coconut oil, steam, etc. and everything had slightly disappointing results. However, once I came up with the spray above, my results were drastically different. My hair came out with perfect Pinterest-worthy big waves and curls, without using the curling iron or hot rollers! This may not work the same if you are lucky enough to have naturally straight hair, but if you have wavy, curly, or frizzy hair, I definitely highly recommend trying this out!

I start with blow drying my hair to smooth it out. Then as I am getting ready for bed at night, I put in the aloe vera-lavender spray, brushing well to work the spray through. Then I section my hair into chunks and put in the big foam rollers. It works incredibly well, and my hair stays nicer all day than it does when I use the curling iron or hot rollers! It took my husband and son a few days to stop laughing at my hair in rollers each night, but they definitely appreciate seeing my hair down and nicely styled instead of shoved into an ugly bun in desperation. 🙂

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Cell phone selfie of my hair…first time I was ever proud of my hair. 🙂
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Speaking of getting ready for bed, I also made a natural makeup remover. Previously, I had always been afraid to use anything oily on my face because I tend to have acne-prone skin (thanks hormonal imbalance!). Then I kept reading online about how people were having great results with using coconut oil and castor oil to remove their makeup, and how it applies the like-dissolves-like principle. I knew that my regular face washing routine was not fully removing all of my makeup each night, so I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, it works great, and has not given me any breakouts! I just apply it, massage it in, and wipe it off with a soft towel.

For the makeup remover, I mixed together:
1. 3 tablespoons organic coconut oil
2. 1 tablespoon organic castor oil
3. 3 drops each dōTERRA lavender (for cleansing and soothing), frankincense (for skin renewal and anti-aging), and melaluca oils (for cleansing and anti-acne).

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The last thing on my list has been something that I’m sure many people have heard of, but perhaps have not considered trying yet. I’m talking about Jamberry nails. When I was pregnant with our son, I started trying all different types of natural nail polish. None of the non-toxic options seemed to last longer than a day without chipping, even on my toe nails. I honestly don’t care if my fingernails are polished unless I am going to a fancy event (with all of my gardening, crafting, and cleaning the house, I am just happy if my fingernails are all the same length and clean), but I can’t stand going in public with unpolished toe nails. Since we live in Southern California, we keep our sandals in heavy rotation most of the year (it is almost November and still in the 80 degree range most afternoons lately).

I have been using Jamberry nail wraps for the past several months on my toes and have been so happy with them! They stay on for weeks at a time, which is amazing! They even hold up through all of my barefoot gardening and beach walks. 🙂 Over the past few months, I found a few tips that work best for me with applying the Jamberry nails. The first couple of times I applied them they were okay, but once I got the hang of a few tricks, they have been beyond amazing.

Alicia in Wonderland blog - low maintenance, nontoxic DIY beauty

If you haven’t heard of Jamberry nails before, they are basically like a DIY, non-toxic alternative to salon gel manicures. They are adhesive strips that you apply to your nails with a hair dryer. It is pretty simple and great for moms because you don’t have to worry about your kids coming over and smudging your perfectly painted fresh pedicure (has happened to me many times before I tried these)! Also, they have so many fun, amazing designs to choose from! I have seen some nail wraps at the drug stores, but the patterns available there do not come anywhere close the the amazing options that Jamberry has available. 🙂

Here are my tips for the perfect Jamberry manicure/pedicure:
1. Be sure to prep your nails well. Soak to make sure they are nice and clean.
2. Dry completely, then push back/clip any messy cuticles.
3. Lightly buff your nails, trim, and file them to get them prepared.
4. Wipe nails with rubbing alcohol pad.
5. Apply Jamberry strips per instructions.
6. Be sure to trim any excess tiny bits around the edges and sides of your nails. Anything that is not trimmed off will lift up, leaving your manicure or pedicure falling off when it could stay on for much longer otherwise. The easiest way I have found to trim all those excess bits is with a pair of sharp cuticle nippers (seen below).
7. Pay attention to the size and shape of your nails when applying. I am very petite, which means I have small feet, and therefore tiny little toe nails. I initially had a problem with keeping my pinky toe nail polished, but then I realized a trick that worked best for me. The cuticle bed of my pinky toe is tiny and flat, not rounded like the other toes. Once I trimmed off that rounded bit on the pinky toe wrap, it stayed on much longer! Trimming to fit your own toe nails’ shape/size is the most important part. 🙂
8. Don’t rush when using the hair dryer to apply them. If you need to, stop the process and come back to the next few nails instead of cutting the applying time short. I often do a few nails, deal with the round of “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom”, and then come back to finish up the rest. 😉

Alicia in Wonderland blog - low maintenance, nontoxic DIY beauty

If you would like to try Jamberry nails for yourself (and I definitely recommend that you do!), I have a Jamberry party set up over on Facebook here that you can join! My friend Kristin set up the event (and has very patiently rescheduled it multiple times for me while I tried to get this blog post together!), and she has a way of making these Jamberry parties so much fun. 🙂

*Disclaimer: the post above contains affiliate links for your convenience. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease.

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My Herb Garden Tour

I have been working on my herb garden expansion for a few months now, I am very excited to give a tour of my complete collection! I started out just growing culinary herbs and lavender. I started using lavender for so many things that it sparked an interest for me in growing other medicinal herbs. Lavender the plant and lavender the essential oil were both my “gateway drugs” into expanding my repertoire of herbal medicine. 😉 I don’t actually have lavender in my herb garden since I have it planted all over the place in the front and back gardens. I fit in lavender anywhere I can. 🙂

I wanted to make sure that our son does not get into my medicinal herbs, so I tried to think of some kind of barrier to keep him out. I found these rolls of little picket fencing held together with wire which has been working perfectly (purchased at Lowe’s). I love that it goes nicely with the picket fence that we are adding to the front of the yard also.
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Previously, I have planted my catnip plants in the ground and in lower hanging containers, and our neighbor’s cat has destroyed them each time. Even when I had my catnip in one of our window boxes, that pesky cat still found it and destroyed it. I have relocated my catnip up into a hanging flower pot near our front door. I actually do not give the catnip to our cats often, but use it primarily for making soothing teas for our son and our dogs (when they are upset and stressed out from fireworks). Next to the catnip, we hung my St. John’s Wort plant (mostly because I think it is such a pretty plant to have hanging!). Yes, we still have our Christmas lights up! My husband says that by the time we finish all of our other urgent projects, it will be time to put them up again, so why bother? 🙂
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Some of my culinary herbs prefer to have consistently moist soil, so I keep them in a small self-watering planter.
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In the rest of the herb garden, I have a bunch of other culinary herbs.
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I use sage and steevia often in my tea mixes. Sage is a great caffeine substitute and steevia adds a great natural sweetness, which I love in some tea blends (I never give our son any teas with sage…he has enough energy already).
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On the other side of the herb garden, I have the rest of my medicinal herbs. I use lemon verbena in lots of my teas since we all love the flavor. Hyssop is something new that I just recently started experimenting with, and the toothache plant has been a lifesaver for us (more on that coming in another post).
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Valerian and lemon balm are more calming herbs that I use for teas and tinctures.
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I cannot remember why I initially purchased rue, but it has the added benefit of deterring pests, especially cats out of the herb garden. Ever since I planted it, my herbs in here have been free from that pesky cat (I still wouldn’t go so far as to trust my catnip plant in there, but the rest of the plants have been unharmed, which is a first here at this house!). Feverfew is another herb I use for teas and tinctures. Comfrey is great for external uses, such as in a warm compress over an injury, etc. I heard one herbalist recommend trying it in a tea (despite the FDA’s warnings against internal use). The day that my husband and I tried comfrey in our tea, we both had a debilitating headache for two days. We are never trying comfrey internally again.
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Three more of my medicinal herbs, a bit sparse since I had just made a bunch of teas and tinctures.
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In the back, I keep two of my herbs that prefer shadier conditions.
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Most of my mints grow under our fig tree and pergola.
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I have found that for me, most herbs tend to grow best in dappled sunlight. Even the herbs that claim to need full sun have done much better for me when they are getting some filtered sunlight near a tree, but not directly under a tree (exceptions being lavender and rosemary – those love full sun but rosemary will tolerate dappled light). Some of the herbs grow well in the ground, and  I plant the ones the ones that need better draining soil in flower pots. I have the comfrey in a pot to control its size; I have been told that it can quickly take over your garden.

I will go into more detail in future posts about how I use each of the medicinal herbs! Are there any in particular that anyone is most interested in learning about? Feel free to let me know!

If you are interested in learning more about growing herbs, this is one my favorite books: Your Backyard Herb Garden.

*Disclaimer: the link above is an affiliate links. Any books I recommend are books hand selected by me that I enjoy and personally recommend (i.e. not sponsored selections). If you are interested in purchasing one of those books, purchasing thorough those direct links is much appreciated and helps keep this blog running!

How Huggies “Natural Care” Wipes Burned My Son’s Skin

I have very sensitive skin. I know many of our friends and family probably thought I was being a bit nuts when everything on our baby registry was organic and for sensitive skin, but I knew there was a good chance that our baby would end up with sensitive skin like mine. So far, we have been very lucky that he hasn’t had too many strong reactions to anything we have used on him. Normally, we always use Earth’s Best Organic Chlorine Free Wipes for diaper changes (found here), and we have never had any problems. Recently, my husband noticed that we were running low on wipes in the diaper bag and picked up something at the grocery store. Since they didn’t carry Earth’s Best at that grocery store, he figured Huggies “Natural Care” wipes would be an okay option (they claim to be natural after all).

After using them a couple of times, I suddenly noticed a horrible rash all over our son’s crotch and thighs, everywhere I had used the wipes during a diaper change. It was diaper rash to the extreme, except it extended far beyond the reach of the diaper (we had a couple of pretty messy diaper changes that involved lots of wiping). By the next day, the rash had become raw and scabby. Whatever chemicals were in the wipes had literally burnt off his skin. Yesterday was absolutely awful…I wanted to get a picture of how bad it was, but that was impossible with the way he was wriggling and screaming from the afternoon all the way until bed time.

I am a huge proponent of natural health care and remedies, and have been making my own herbal remedies for us and our pets for years now. I am going to start a new series of blog posts about my recent journey into expanding my herbal remedy arsenal for our family’s health care. I happened to have just received my new shipment of dōTERRA essential oils yesterday, so I immediately started adding a few of the oils into the lineup to treat E’s raw, irritated skin. Within 24 hours, he is doing so much better. His skin has started healing up a lot. There is still a little bit of scabby area left, but yesterday his entire inner thigh looked raw like the small raw bit in the photo below.

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This is the arsenal of supplies that I have been using on his skin:
California Baby Calendula Cream (this is what I usually use if he has any diaper rash), Burts Bees Res-Q Ointment (has comfrey as the main ingredient, which is great for soothing and healing all kinds of bumps, scrapes, bug bites, etc.), fresh aloe vera, dōTERRA Lavender essential oil (for soothing the skin), dōTERRA Melaluca essential oil (for its cleansing and antibiotic properties), and dōTERRA Frankincense essential oil (for its healing properties).
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I have used lavender essential oil for many things over the years, but I started getting disgusted by the chemical processes most companies use to extract the essential oils. Most essential oils that you find in stores are actually extracted through chemical processes instead of steam or pressure extraction. Instead of getting a concentrated version of a plant with healing abilities, you end up with a concentrated amount of toxins. I discovered dōTERRA essential oils, and have become enthralled with the company the more I learn about them. They only use organic herbs and produce for their essential oils, and the oils are never extracted by chemical means. You know that you are getting the purest form of the plant essence available. I am really excited to start documenting our family’s journey with using dōTERRA essential oils, as well as some new fresh medicinal herbs that I recently added to my herb garden. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Some of the issues we have been tackling lately with herbal remedies (and will be coming to the blog soon) include extreme teething (getting the first set of molars), bug bites and prevention, digestive problems with one of our dogs and one of our cats, my journey with finding natural remedies for my severe and chronic muscle, bone, ligament, and arthritis pain, and other issues as well. For more information on dōTERRA, click here.

*Update: After I published this post, a friend sent me this news article link. Sadly, this is quite a common reaction to wipes in general. Be sure to check the ingredients on the wipes you use or make your own! The Earth’s Best wipes that we use thankfully do not have the chemicals that the article mentioned, which is why our son never had this problem before.

Our Little Fishie

Just a bit of end of summer fun! Little E loves swimming! We have taken him swimming a few times in the ocean and at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. I found this little baby floating raft that he loves since it gives him a bit of independence (and mom a bit of peace of mind). He loves the salt water in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool and likes to lick his hands while he is swimming (silly boy!). I am a fan of the salt water pool since I don’t have to worry about subjecting him to tons of harsh chemicals. Swimming with Daddy & Grandpa is one of his new favorite activities. 🙂

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Starting Solids!

Originally, I set a goal for myself that I would only feed our baby breastmilk and nothing else for his entire first year. I had read a number of studies that said that delaying introducing solids and doing breastmilk only for an entire year can help prevent/eliminate food allergies. Since we had such a battle from the start with him reacting to things in my diet, and the fact that food allergies seem to run rampant in my family, this was an idea I was strongly committed to (despite our pediatrician’s opinion that it was not a good idea). My best friend (who is quite an experienced mom now) told me that I would have to be mindful of that one day I may just notice that E is READY for supplemental foods. Unfortunately, that day came way sooner than I was hoping it would.

A little over a week ago, E started getting insanely hungry. Usually nursing on just one side is enough to fill him up, but for a couple of days he still seemed hungry after draining both sides. I knew that it was not a supply issue on my part since he was going through his diapers about twice as fast as normal. At the end of two very grueling days of pretty much non-stop nursing, I gave in and decided he could try some infant rice cereal. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a good one though! As I stood in the baby aisle at Target browsing through all of the different options, I got a little overwhelmed. Most of the rice cereals had either wheat, soy or dairy ingredients, so they were not an option for E. I was already sad about giving up on my goal in the first place, and this was even more frustrating. I finally found one that is organic and had no allergen ingredients. It also has the added benefit of pre and probiotics. I have read that probiotics can help with food allergies, so I am hoping introducing these into his diet may help him outgrow these allergies. The cereal that we have been using is Happy Bellies organic brown rice cereal.

Right away, he was beyond excited about finally getting to have some food of his own. He has been trying to sneak and grab our food for a while now, so he was quite proud of himself. After about a week of him doing okay with the rice cereal (minus a scary rash initially that turned out to be heat rash), I decided to make a bit of homemade spinach puree for him. He had been trying to grab my vegetable juice every morning, so he was quite excited to get his own bit of green fun. He absolutely loves spinach, and likes it even more than the rice cereal! Like mother, like son. 🙂
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My Guide to a Healthy, Toxin-Free Pregnancy

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - My Guide To a Healthy, Toxin-Free Pregnancy

If you read my previous post about my full pregnancy journey (seen here), you already know that it has not been easy for us to become parents. Since I knew that things would be difficult for me, I started early adjusting my lifestyle choices to try to get myself as healthy as possible to try to better my odds of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. The most important thing that I adjusted was with what we were eating. While I have pretty much always eaten healthy, I took extra efforts to eliminate toxins from our diet, keeping it as organic as possible.

There are a million articles out there of things you should avoid while pregnant. To err on the side of caution, I eliminated anything that may be potentially hazardous while pregnant. I did a lot of reading, and put together my own master list of things to avoid. Here is my own list of things that I eliminated throughout the course of my pregnancy to try to ensure the healthiest possible outcome for our baby.

1. The obvious things like sushi & alcohol. I even limited myself to only consuming the host when going to Communion at mass (during the phases of my pregnancy when I was allowed to attend mass).
2. Cheeses made from raw milk (I know there is some debate on this issue, but again, I didn’t want to take any chances).
3. Soft and unpasteurized cheeses (e.g. brie, feta, camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses).
4. Coffee, soda & other sources of caffeine. Once I started developing issues with my heart later in the pregnancy, I even had to completely cut out chocolate per my doctor’s advice.
5. Any foods with nitrates (e.g. lunch meats, hot dogs, etc.).
6. Any high mercury seafood.
7. Any raw seafood such as lox.
8. Eliminated sugar as much as possible.
9.  GMO’s and fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides, etc. I continuously snacked on organic fruit and veggies (made easier since much of it was growing in our garden).
10. Canned foods (since these contain BPA).
11. Water in plastic bottles (I started carrying around my stainless steel water bottle everywhere I go).
12. Food with large amounts of preservatives and additives.
13. Anything with MSG.
14. Any food with any artificial coloring. I am allergic to red food dye, and figured I might as well eliminate the others as well.
15. Processed and bleached starch options (e.g. white bread, white flour tortillas, etc.) – replaced with whole grain alternatives.
16. Any artificial sweeteners. I haven’t read anything in specific showing any issues that these might cause with pregnancy, but with my goal to cut out anything that isn’t natural and healthy, I eliminated these as well.

In addition to eliminating certain types of foods, I also eliminated a number of things in my beauty routine as well.
17. Any skin care products with salicylic acid.
18. Any skin care products with retinols.
19. Standard perfumes (since these contain surprisingly high levels of formaldehyde).
20. Standard sunscreens – replaced with natural, paba free versions without lots of chemicals.
21. My regular facial moisturizer – replaced with a natural version with SPF 30.
22. Standard nail polish and remover – replaced with natural versions without acetone, formaldehyde, or other strong chemicals.
23. All over hair dye.
24. Any of my “fancy” lotions – replaced with lotions with natural and organic ingredients, all paraben and phthalate free.
25. Any self tanners. Even though I wasn’t going anywhere most of the pregnancy, I was tempted to use some on a couple of occasions but refrained. After months of only getting sun exposure through a window, I have never been so pale and pasty in my life! I haven’t specifically read anything discouraging the use of these, but again…why bother with any extra unnecessary chemicals going into your system?
26. Any “regular” makeup – replaced with natural and mineral products (although most days I just went without makeup anyway).
27. Any whitening toothpaste or tooth whitening products.
28. Basically any other products with any artificial scents, etc. That was also largely driven by my sudden super sensitive sense of smell and never-ending morning sickness. Even the pets had to switch to hair care products without lots of artificial scents. 🙂

Also, this was already part of my normal routine, but if it hadn’t been, I would have switched out to all natural cleaning products as well. You can read more about my eco-friendly cleaning routine here. I also started myself on organic prenatal vitamins with probiotics and herbal supplements long before I got pregnant, as well as some DHA supplements as well. Also something I had been doing anyway…we made sure any paints being used in our house were zero VOC paints.

I am not trying to encourage paranoia about what you should or should not do while pregnant, nor am I trying to pass judgment on anyone who does not avoid everything on my extensive list while pregnant. I instituted these changes in order to feel as healthy as possible, and feel confident that I am giving this baby the best possible start to his life that I can.

Our Favorite Hybrid Diapering System: Gdiapers

When I was pregnant, I started looking into various cloth diaper brands. It saddens me to read how many regular diapers go into landfills each year, and my husband and I just could not stand the thought of being a contributor to that problem. I was a little overwhelmed by all of the different options out there and wasn’t sure how the whole concept would work for us. All of the babies that I used to babysit used only disposables, so cloth diapering was totally new to me. When my dad said that he would not do cloth diapers if my parents were babysitting E, I started looking into a hybrid diaper system. I discovered Gdiapers, and am so pleased with how they have been working for us.

We initially started with the Gdiapers newborn bundle, and I figured we would see how things went with that and one package of the cloth inserts before we invested too much more in the whole system. My initial plan was to start off using the biodegradable inserts and the cloth inserts once we returned home from the hospital and see what worked best for us. When we returned home from the hospital and I could not walk for a while without my crutches, we decided to just buy a couple of packages of regular disposable diapers like we had been given in the hospital for the time being, putting off the cloth diapers for later.  One night when we realized we were down to our last few disposable diapers, and all of the grocery stores were closed, I told my husband that we were going to start using the Gdiapers instead, despite everything else that was going on. I love the freedom that cloth diapers provide…no panicking when you are running low on diapers and the stores are closed. All you have to do is start a load of laundry and you are all set.

We quickly realized that we much preferred the Gdiapers over the regular disposable diapers anyway. The disposables we were using were leaking everywhere and just did not seem to hold enough. They were also starting to irritate his skin, despite being from a “natural” line of diapers. The newborn diaper shells are a little different than the ones shown below; the snap in liner is sewn into the diaper shell. Our baby quickly outgrew those and moved into the size small, shown below.

When I was researching Gdiapers online, it all seemed a little confusing to me at first. It seemed like there were a lot of things we would need to purchase to use the system. I decided to put together a step-by-step breakdown of how we use them, hopefully helping anyone else considering trying out cloth diapering.

Below: The various components we use. You don’t have to go with cloth and biodegradable inserts. You could use one or the other, but I like having both as an option for different times. We use the biodegradable inserts when we are out running errands since they absorb more, are less bulky in the diaper bag, and can be thrown away in a trash can. We also use the biodegradable inserts before bedtime at night since they hold more and we don’t wake up with the baby in a puddle of wetness. We use the cloth inserts the rest of the time, with a paper liner over it. The paper liner catches any poop so it is easily discarded, and makes washing the cloth inserts easier. To use the paper liner, you stuff in a cloth insert first, and then put in the paper liner over it.

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With wet diapers, the snap-in liner can usually be reused for another round. For poopy diapers, the snap-in liner is usually best removed and replaced with a clean one. They come out very easily as seen below. Bonus…After you take out the paper liner or biodegradable insert, removing the snap-in liner like this keeps you from having to deal with touching any more of the mess.
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The dirty, reusable parts of the diaper are tossed in the dirty bag. The paper liners and the biodegradable inserts are tossed in the diaper bin. When it is time to wash diapers, I just empty the bag into the washing machine, and toss in the bag, eliminating the need to touch the dirty diapers again. We also have a travel bag for dirty parts that is kept in the diaper bag, shown here.

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Diaper shells that are damp but not dirty are hung up to dry between uses.
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One other important thing: the diaper shells must always be put on so that the “g” is facing the back. 🙂

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I end up doing laundry about every 2-3 days, which is not so bad. This is the list of supplies that seems to work best for us: 6 cloth shells, 18 snap-in liners, 24 cloth inserts, a box of the paper liners, a dirty laundry bag, and a smaller travel wet bag.