6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 5: Techniques/Performance: How You Make Flats Work For You

Today is day 5 of the 6th annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge, and the final weekday. Weekends are generally easier for me because my husband is home and we can work together on childcare/chores so I don’t feel quite so tasked with getting everything done on my own. For those of you who are struggling, dealing with less than ideal weather, unexpected detergent reactions, or impatient tots, I hope this weekend brings some much needed relief. With just a couple days to go, I know you can stick it out. Even if there’s been a slip up, you can keep trying and just mention the slip for full disclosure. I’m impressed with how many of you have found this week to be a breeze, especially for some of our first timers!

With school and work and errands and appointments, this week has been very busy and very tiring. There have definitely been days when I planned to do the wash first thing in the morning and put it off till the afternoon out of sheer lack of motivation. One nice thing about a small to moderate stash, though, is it pushes you to do the laundry just to make sure you have enough to work with for diaper changes. And once those diapers are hanging on the line in the bright sunshine, you get that sense of accomplishment (and a right to indulge in those secret cookies your kids don’t know you keep hidden until they are in another room).

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Today we’re talking about how we make flats work for our family. My baby is a heavy wetter, which means she hydrates heavily throughout the day and her laundry reflects that habit. This can be an excellent way to test the limits of a good cloth diaper, but not so great for a long car ride or packed schedule. If I’m at home for the majority of the day, it is quick and easy enough to just change her more frequently to accommodate the differential in absorbency compared to some of the diapers we use. If I have to head out, I’ve found pad folding one flat and wrapping another flat onto my baby seems to help distribute better and buy me more time between changes. For overnights I challenged myself to dismiss my beloved fitteds and wool and stick to our most absorbent flats made with bamboo to help last through the night. Surprisingly, I have not needed to reach for the wool cover I made this week, though I have made sure to change her right before bed and again right away when she wakes early in the morning. Sometimes this week my groggy half-awake self has felt as if I were playing a cruel game of “hot potato” rushing to rescue her from her overnight diaper before disaster could strike. If I were to continue this routine I would likely train myself to gauge how long she could go between changes so I wouldn’t stress out as much. We also have a waterproof mattress cover on her coconut fiber mattress, and a thick wool mattress cover over that to protect her from any long term damage, so the worst result would be a need to wash her fitted sheet and pajamas.

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Some of my favorite folds this year are the origami fold (with the sides tucked, folded, or rolled against the thighs for a snug fit), the Jo fold and the somewhat similar T fold (which seemed to provide a better fit on Autumn with my FSTs). I also think a large part of my success this week is due to the covers I use, with the elastic on the back and front waist as well as generous gussets. Everything was contained within the cover and a simple wipe down with a flannel wipe left it ready for another use. I also stretch the use of said covers by allowing her to go without a cover when we’re playing outside, since the risk of mess is minimal and clean up is easy (plus her skin benefits from the breathability of the FST and the fresh air).

I look forward to reading about your experiences more and hearing what has worked best for you so far this week.

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