Green goddess or green eyed monster?

My baby’s skin is like silk. His rosy cheeks and chubby thighs display the very picture of health, and I’m particularly proud of his bottom.

Yes, that’s right. His wee bum is as smooth as… A baby’s bottom. He has no trace of nappy rash, no irritation and wears his nappy all night up to 12 hrs with no ill effects. At 14 weeks old the only thing we have ever used on his skin is coconut oil, and my homemade baby wipes are soaked in a mixture of boiled water, baby oil and lavender oil.

But I believe the real reason for his peachy wee buns to be his delightful set of cloth nappies. And when you have this as an excuse, not to mention the financial and environmental benefits it’s easy to get carried away.

Carried away? With what?

My name is Ruth and I’m a cute cloth addict.

I recently joined a Facebook group to try and sell on my newborn size ‘stash’ and made a tidy £90 back from my original spend of £120. Result. But in doing so I found myself scanning the ‘for sale’ posts in the group, day and night while waiting for mine to sell.

I have to confess there is now only £23 left in my paypal account. I’ve been unable to resist buying some of the cute designs I’ve seen. And I’ve been telling myself that this is a perfect example of a low carbon cycle – all these nappies are ‘pre-loved’ (let’s not think about all the Carbon Royal Mail are expending pinging these things to and fro across the country from one mad mum to the next).

Like a real addict, I’ve been rooting through my other nappies to see which old tatty ones I can sell on to fund my new habit. I was given a bunch of tired but functional nappies by friends and colleagues and *ping* they just sold tonight so I’m like a gambler – trying not to be tempted by more cute cloth.

My poor, poor husband. He is becoming increasingly bewildered by my new habit. Lots of new nappies arriving means new systems to work out and new methods, remembering which boosters go with which nappy and so on.

My favourite type of nappy is a pocket style – you have an outer ‘shell’ with Velcro or poppers to fasten and more poppers to adjust height (so they can fit a baby for a long time). These have an opening at one end so you can insert a booster pad, which is the bit that absorbs all the wee. The leg/waist elastic is what contains any solids and the great thing about pocket nappies is that you can add more boosters for more absorbency. Here’s a picture (copyright Little Lambs Ltd):

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My favorite booster material is bamboo – not only is it a natural material but it’s super absorbent. It takes a while to dry compared with cotton or microfibre but it’s by far the most effective of the three. You can also get boosters made of hemp and even charcoal… A whole new world eh?

In the beginning I was tempted by ‘all in one’ nappies – the bigger versions of the first patterned nappies I bought. They’re so convenient but not always as leak-proof.

At night time we, like many cloth nappy users, switch to a traditional two – part system. The inner nappy is shaped to fit like a disposable – and then covered with a waterproof wrap. There are loads of types to choose from, and again we use bamboo as it NEVER leaks and the wrap we use is totally bomb-proof:

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The more I grow to love my cloth nappies the more interest I get from friends – most are curious because I post photos of my cute wee man in his cute wee nappies. Some are actually planning to use them or at least try them and in some cases I like to think I’ve influenced or inspired them.

The question I get most (or with most curiosity) is about washing them. Contrary to popular old fashioned belief there is no soaking or hand rinsing or boiling; I use a bucket with a snap-on lid (similar to most disposable nappy bins) with a mesh bag stretched over the rim. All wet and dirty nappies and wipes go straight into the bin and when it’s full I just lift out the mesh bag and stick the whole thing in the wash. Pic:

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A few drops of tea tree oil in the bucket keep it smelling fresh (it’s also a natural disinfectant). Here are some other factoids:

Cloth nappies should be washed with just a small amount of washing powder; fabric softener affects their absorbency so avoid it at all costs.

To keep nappies soft dry them outdoors or use a tumble drier and those Eco ball things – because we are in a flat and use ages-to-dry bamboo our washer-drier comes in very handy. Not so green but still greener than pampers. 🙂

To keep nappies smelling fresh add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or tea tree to the prewash tray of your washing machine.

Most of the time you can get away with a 30 degree wash (with a cold pre wash to rinse away the poop) but to keep smells and bacteria away do an occasional 60 wash with an extra rinse and no washing powder – called a strip wash – to thoroughly clean them and reduce the build up of powder.

For small babies poo is water soluble so you don’t need to do anything before washing – post-weaning this is another matter.

While out and about I keep a couple of wet-bags in the changing bag to pop used nappies in. These are also handy for occasional damp babygros due to pee/puke/rivers of drool. Just remember to transfer to the bucket – not nice to discover a two day old shitty nappy in your wet-bag while you’re changing your baby in front of the health visitor, which definitely didn’t happen to me today.

Vest extenders help prolong your baby vests – say what you like about disposables, your baby will never get a complex about having a big ass. Cloth-bummed babies are bootylicious, but that does make for awkward between-size dilemmas.

See? I’ve not just been blindly impulse-buying pretty nappies (although I mostly have) I also know my stuff and am ready to educate and encourage other parents too! One of these months I might even drag myself out of bed and head to a Changeworks Nappuccino, the funky wee coffee morning for fellow cloth-addicts.

I’ll post a pic of my new stash when they’re all out of the wash. A new one arrived this morning but before I could put it on I had to use it as a shield against a pee fountain! Here it is after a wash – it’s a Charlie Bananas ‘BlackBeary’ (geddit?)

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If you’re reading this and you’re interested in finding out more I’d recommend the nappy lady site for a pee fountain of information, as well as Changeworks for local information if you’re in South East Scotland.

I’m also happy to answer questions about my experience and give any advice I can. It’s so cute, fun, green and good for your baby – no nappy rash here, just peachy wee cheeks!

Motherhood in full swing, diet… not so much

Well, it’s been a wee while, no? Any wonder, when I’ve been busy learning to be a mummy to beautiful, perfect baby Adam.

He is 10 weeks old today and I have enjoyed a short hiatus from blogging, while I got to grips with having a new baby for the first time. To cut my own long story short, it’s been a total whirlwind of love, joy, cuddles, tears, hormones and ebay.

The green thing is going well – all the things we said we’d do are working out; the cloth nappies are wonderful (Adam’s skin is silky soft) and my home made baby wipes are excellent – we have bought two or three packets of disposable wipes and about 3 packs of disposable nappies since Adam was born. we have already saved a fortune, and I’m about to re-sell his first wee cloth nappies already! I will be keeping my favourite little cute nappy as a wee keepsake. I’ve also been able to pass on lots of his newborn sized clothes to other expectant mums, which feels nice.

We have made some amazing second hand purchases on Gumtree and eBay, like Adam’s bouncy chair where he naps during the day, and his baby swaddling blankets and later his sleeping bags – and of course nappies – my new obsession! My favourite purchase recently is the fab Ergo Baby organic carrier that I got on Gumtree second hand – it means I don’t have to lug the pram around each time I need to go out. Adam loves sleeping in the carrier up against me, and I love feeling him snuggling in while I plod around. It makes getting out of the house really easy and pleasant. After a c-section it’s a while before you can bear much weight so a sling or carrier is perfect. My recovery was ok, not easy but ok. 

I read this recently, and a friend posted it on my Facebook today which spurred me to dust off the laptop and write something. Its true, I felt enormous pressure to ‘get out and about’ and be a model new mum straight away. Now I am happy to declare a duvet day if we’ve had a restless night (like today, we’re watching Fargo and having cuddles) as I know the time will soon come when Adam won’t let me hold him captive in my arms all day. 

When I do go out I generally find it very easy to bring Adam to cafes and public places, and I no longer even bother with the breastfeeding cover that I bought – who cares about a wee flash of boob now and then? I’m just going with it. I was given a real baptism of fire last week when Adam had a mad screaming tantrum in the middle of Mimi’s Bakehouse, a popular cake place in Leith full of yummy mummies. My ladies from Pregnancy Yoga meet there every Friday and I was happily eating an excellent cheese scone when Adam suddenly burst into full on screams. I shushed, rocked, patted and swayed to no avail, and quickly felt colour rising on my cheeks as I noticed a few people looking over (none of the yoga mums batted an eyelid I must say, and I’m sure they were relieved it wasn’t their baby having a fit). One lady came right over and peered at me, then Adam, and pointed towards the ladies’ toilets saying ‘There is a corridor down there you can use’. I snapped at her that I was just about to go there, and stomped off with Adam still wailing. I spent a very unpleasant few minutes trying to calm him down – I even popped into the baby change room and tried to feed him – this usually cures anything – but he just wouldn’t stop!

Eventually I emerged, resigned to just grabbing our things and hailing a cab home, when a lovely lady appeared from the ladies’, and gave me so much sympathy and encouragement that I actually wept a wee bit with gratitude. She said she was a childminder and had four boys of her own. ‘It’s absolutely normal and you’re doing really well’ she said. At that moment Adam ceased his tantrum and pretty much passed out in my arms. I sagged with relief and joined the mums again, even finishing my scone before I headed home with Adam snuggled in the sling. It turned out the lady who’d directed me to the corridor was the owner of Mimi’s, and my Yoga chum says she passed comment about Adam and me after I’d left – ‘How can something so small make so much noise?’ and ‘It sounds like someone’s being murdered’. Well, thanks a bunch Mimi. Your cheese scones aren’t tasty enough to tempt me back again.

I feel I dealt with it really well but at the time I understood what it is to be a fussed out stressy mum. At the bus stop yet another woman who’d obviously witnessed it asked politely if he had cried himself to sleep. Yup, cheers for that.

So a duvet day seemed preferable to doing anything sociable today. I am needed by my baby so I’d better sign off. Before I go, here are a few pics.

Nesting, nesting, 1 2 3

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Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter N – as in ‘nesting’. Now anyone who knows me will be doubled over at the thought of me on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. It’s hopefully a little easier to visualise me industriously making useful things whilst creating a lot of mess.

My current project is all about reusable baby wipes. Yup. Glamourous.

The ‘cheeky wipes’ system is very clever and also quite expensive. I have inherited a dose of terry squares and I decided to copy that system, putting my ever so basic sewing skills to good use.

Here’s how it works: you have two clip-close Tupperware boxes and two ‘wet bags’ for when you’re out and about. One container or bag holds the ‘fresh’ wipes, which are usually steeped in an antiseptic solution eg water with essential oils or even chamomile tea. The other container is for your ‘mucky’ wipes, and you can either use another solution eg tea tree oil to cancel out whiffs, or just seal it up until you can deposit the wipes into your nappy laundry bin.

The wipes are just cotton, bamboo or microfibre and the boxes are literally the Tupperware tubs you see for £1 each in Poundland. I decided to be thrifty and try to make my own rather than spend a (not unreasonable) £30-odd for a new set. Well, I have the raw materials here in the flat!

I started by cutting out a shape that fits nicely into my Tupperware so I don’t have to double them up. I found that grease proof paper works well as a pattern template! I’ve got as far as cutting a whole load out, and will run a simple zigzag stitch around them to stop them fraying. If I had an overlocker (the holy grail of seamstresses worldwide) I’d use it to do a more thorough job.

Will post pics of the finished job- in the meantime here is the pattern cutting:

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Time slows down, speeds up, clocks go back… Dr Who would be impressed.


What’s been happening in the world of Ruth? Lots, of course. No baby just yet but if the little blighter does turn up early we’ll just about be sorted. Sigh of relief that can be heard from outer space.

I’ve finished work! That’s a funny one to get your head around – after working full time since the day I left education (working part time and sometimes full time throughout that too since the age of 18) suddenly not having a job to go to each day is a strange one. I’m not really on holiday, but I’m not ill. And the baby isn’t here yet to keep me busy so I’ve been filling up my days with lots of lovely catch ups with friends, short and gaspy walks to nearby locations such as John Lewis, and basic sewing projects that have taken up hours and yielded fairly little. And Yoga. And baking. And a wee bit of resting too.

The rest/activity ratio is about to swing dramatically as I’ve just about had enough of ‘keeping myself busy’. I’m lucky to have this time off work before I meet my baby so I’m bloody well going to enjoy it without feeling guilty or lazy for doing as little as possible. Today is officially the first day I’ve not gone outside yet! I’m going out later on to a halloween party so not feeling like a recluse yet. I’ve done three loads of washing (watch as anyone who knows me reels in shock), hoovered, tidied up the spare room and kitchen and emptied the dishwasher. These simple tasks are quite hard work when you’re almost 37 weeks pregnant, have a baby headbutting your bladder whilst kicking you in the lungs, and have hips that feel they’ll give way at any moment. As for picking things up off the floor by hand, that is so last month. I now use my toes to lift a lot of stuff.

So the first two weeks of maternity leave have made a mockery of the concept of time. Receiving my beautiful hand made baby blanket and a gorgeous Narcissus bouquet from my colleagues on my last day feels like months ago. And at the same time it’s like I walked out of there only yesterday! “You’ll lose track of time” Jamie helpfully and knowingly piped up last night. This terrifies me! I need to let go, and not let it bother me. I shall get a diary and keep all my appointments in it rather than in my well oiled machine of a brain. My poor brain. It’s in for a shock I think.

Aside from becoming a time lord, I am upbeat and optimistic about the next few weeks and finally getting to meet our baby boy or girl! I’m carefully filtering negative birth stories, comments and ‘advice’ and focusing on doing things the way that suits us best. We’re stocked up on real nappies (a good lot of second hand and some shiny new ones too) and I’m heading over to the Changeworks Nappuccino next week for a blether with some cloth nappy mums and dads to get some advice. We’ve received lots of ‘pre-loved’ baby clothes from friends and colleagues who’ve recently had their own little babies, and even got a beautiful cot mobile from a friend who was given two for his little girl – we’re very lucky indeed! Our baby will be well kitted out between these nearly new offerings and the lovely gifts we’ve received from friends and family.

Still happy we’ve not made too giant an impact on the environment (yet) as lots of our stuff is pre-loved, nearly new, reusable or at the very least biodegradable. Hopefully this cancels out some of the tumble-drying I’ll have to do over the winter!

And on that happy note, I have to go and walk around – seizing up here! Oh alright then, here’s a pic:36 Weeker

And here are the beautiful flowers I got from work:

Flowers from Narcissus

The mothership

I’ve developed my own gravitational pull now. I’m kidding of course but it’s no joke – I am officially massive. I have hit the 31 week mark and the bump measures 30 cm, which is pretty much bang on what it should be (thankyouverymuch) – but it feels like it really can’t get any bigger. Can it?

Despite me slowing down physically, the world still appears to be turning. Jamie has really driven forward our to-do list and has decorated, built furniture, replaced door handles, sorted through boxes and boxes of stuff, organised and reorganised cupboards, found space for things, hoovered, washed and tidied like a total champion.

Men at workI have feebly washed a few plates and done the odd trip to the supermarket, and written a lot of lists. I’ve also been in charge of Online Shopping. I was busy reclining yesterday and leaving Jamie to his own devices when he called me in to check out the nursery…

It’s been painted for a few weeks; the carpet arrived a couple of weeks ago and the last of our IKEA order got delivered yesterday. It’s also been home to some ‘misc’ items that were waiting to be rehomed or gumtree’d. I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me when I walked in. Not only had he built the cot, he’d cleared everything out, lit the lamp and put up a few little things to start making it a real person’s room: NurseryI sat in my red chair to take the pic above (which is why you can see my slippers!). You can also see the freaky Cliff Richard calendar hanging on the back of the door. Cliff won’t be watching over Baby Gray, that’s for sure. What a beautiful room.

Its amazing making this sort of progress – it brings us closer to meeting our baby one step at a time; finishing up at work will also be a milestone – I’ve now got less than four weeks to go! Far from feeling guilty or sheepish about stopping work at 35 weeks, I am delighted to be gifting myself some ‘me time’ and some time to rest and prepare for motherhood at my own pace. I will be far from idle – there are loads of baby clothes to wash and sort, bits and bobs to purchase, and lists to make 🙂 I’ll also be practicing my hypnobirthing techniques (laugh if you want – but if you’re pregnant I strongly suggest you buy the book!) and attending late-pregnancy yoga classes just off Broughton Street. I’m expecting a visit from my Mum too.

I’ll also be busy filling our freezer with batch-cooked meals to help feed us when we’re busy/exhausted/bewildered in the first few weeks. As someone who tries hard to eat well and avoid food waste I love the thought of having good nutritional (and tasty) meals in our freezer as a result of forward planning. So far I’ve made extra and bagged some bolognese, two curries, some chilli and some vegetable soup, not to mention some sliced bagels – great for popping straight into the toaster. This will save us a lot of money and energy at a time when cooking and eating are just about fueling your body rather than gastronomy.

On the ‘green’ front, things are going well (despite August’s surrendering to IKEA) and our thrifty low carbon leanings have been well served by the generosity of friends who’ve happily passed on all sorts of things. We’ve hardly bought any baby clothes, having received loads from other parents. We’ve also inherited a baby monitor, bath seat, bumbo chair (wtf is that?), car seat, bike seat, baby sling/carrier and giant bundle of cloth nappies. All without spending a penny! Most other stuff has been bought on eBay or Gumtree, including our beautiful pram (AKA travel system) and cute ‘buggy snuggle‘ – we are saving ourselves plenty of money, and in the process we are keeping our carbon footprint down too. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve got some adorable cloth nappies – the cash saving (between £500 and £1000 per baby!) is one thing, but knowing we’ll be diverting an unbelieveable 120 black bin bags full of dirty nappies away from landfill is a great thought. Working at Changeworks I know that it’s not something to be scared of – we run a real nappy project! I’m lucky to have a fantastic source of support, and intend to use one of their trial packs or lending kits so we can try out various types and see what works best for us. We’ve been given a range by friends – some Bambino Mio, a few Tots Bots, Little Lambs and a load of plain terry squares. I’m also looking forward to going along to the Changeworks ‘Nappuccino‘ coffee mornings once we’re ready.

I’m really looking forward to:

  • Bending at the waist again
  • Being able to put socks and shoes on while breathing at the same time
  • Not caring where I park as I know I’ll be able to get back in the car
  • Getting comfortable in bed, on the sofa, at work, anywhere
  • Going back in the sauna
  • Eating runny cheese and pate
  • Having a few G&Ts
  • Seeing myself in the mirror and recognising my body
  • Wearing REAL CLOTHES and having more than 6 outfits
  • Going for a long walk without a sense of dread

Until that time comes, I am stranded in the body of a giant flump. Here is me at 30 weeks:30 weeksOh, I went to the amazing Lush Spa recently for a treatment called The Spell; it was beyond my wildest dreams! I am usually skeptical and critical of this sort of thing, because I happen to know the best masseur in the business who doesn’t need a spa or any hocus pocus to make you feel good (Hi Yossi). The Spell was incredible though – just enough theatre to make it really interesting, but not too much to overshadow the good solid skill that went into the treatment itself. It’s primarly a foot massage/spa but includes hot stones and a head massage in the frankly stunning surroundings of Edinburgh’s Lush Spa. The spa is set in the basement of the Princes Street store and is like a witch’s kitchen – that’s the best way I can describe it. They gave me a beautiful little affirmation as a keepsake – and I think it’s very apt for my journey at the moment:

Lush Spa

Green parenthood? Its a good thing we’re poor…

The more I think about it, the more the two ideas marry up in my head. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m on the poverty line – we are extremely lucky to both be working full time in decent jobs, and at the minute we enjoy a pretty comfortable life in Edinburgh. We socialise a lot and just now we have disposable income which is a luxury, I know.

But having done my sums I know that’ll have to change as my income will fall dramatically in early 2014, and even once my maternity leave finishes I don’t know whether going back to work full time will be the right choice – financially or otherwise.

I’m heartened by the fact that lots and lots of people do this, and we’re pretty good at budgeting (our wedding was a thriftful masterpiece, if I do say so myself) so I’m not worrying about it – in fact I’m glad to be prepared rather than approach it ostrich-style, head in the sand.

This brings me back from the future to now – 21 weeks pregnant. We’ve really not done much in the way of preparation; the room is undecorated, furniture unsold, baby stuff bought = 0. But we are accumulating bits and pieces from friends and that has already saved us money – AND it’s helping me on my quest to be a low carbon mum. I love second hand shopping and the idea of breathing new life into things, giving them another chance, appeals a lot.

I totally understand that some people want brand new everything for their baby – I get it – but I think the amount of great quality, nearly new stuff out there for new parents is incredible and can help reduce a household’s baby budget as well as their carbon footprint. The only maternity clothes I’ve bought new have been two pairs of maternity tights from Debenhams (which were dreadful, both split along a seam and are both now in the bin – tights fail) and the rest have been hand-me-downs from friends or eBay gems.

In fact I’ve managed to accumulate so many maternity clothes in this way that today I gutted my wardrobe and put away everything non-maternity, so that all my ‘now’ clothes aren’t mixed up with ‘yesteryear’ skinny jeans and so on. Jamie got a fright when he opened the cupboard and saw the workings of my newly manic pregnancy brain:

from here to maternity

from here to maternity

So I’ll carry on trawling eBay, Gumtree and the fantastic Jack and Jill Market for bargains, and enjoy getting my head pickled deciding on a pram, etc etc etc that does what we need it to do (what do we need it to do?) and fits our budget (what the hell’s our budget?) and rather than feeling a bit disappointed that we aren’t going on a spree in Mothercare or John Lewis (and you know I love a good John Lewis Spree) I feel satisfied that we are both caring for our planet and protecting our bank balance from severe depletion. I mean have you seen what these things cost???

And here’s a bump pic – I put the same top on as last time to help y’all compare. This is 21 weeks and four days. Plump.

Bump. Plump.

Bump. Plump.