Cloth or Not Cloth? That Is The Question.

Anyone who has a baby will tell you- that diapers are the number one item you will buy during the course of your baby(ies’) early life. (Well it certainly feels like it!) A new baby will go through diapers faster than you can change one and a potty training child will stubbornly notify you they need to “use potty” after they have already gone in their diaper.

Did you know at one point in history during the warm, summer months, Americans would let children run free of diapers? Their solution was early potty training! Click here to go to the source of this information and more history on the American diaper. Fortunately, we have more options today and I want to review one of them in great detail today.

Please note, my blog post today is taken from The Real Diaper Association and they deserve all the credit for research and information below.

Cloth diapers were used for centuries and have come quite a long, LONG way. Although I have not personally used them, my mother-in-law used them as well as friends I know. So why cloth?

1. Environment

  • “No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.”
  • “Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.5″
  • “Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.”
  • A 1991 attempt to recycle disposable diapers was found as “unfeasible.”
  • “In 1988, nearly $300 million dollars were spent annually just to discard disposable diapers, whereas cotton diapers are reused 50 to 200 times before being turned into rags”

For information on the effects on the Environment please go directly to the source of this information The Real Diaper Association.


The Real Diaper Association assumes that each baby will need 6,000 diapers during the 1st 2 years of life.

  1. “Disposables.  For these calculations, let’s assume that a family needs about 60 diapers a week.  In the San Francisco Bay area, disposable diapers cost roughly 23¢ per store-brand diaper and 28¢ for name-brand.  This averages to 25.5¢ per diaper.  Thus the average child will cost about $1,600 to diaper for two years in disposable diapers, or about $66 a month9.”
  2. “Diaper Services.  Subscribing to a diaper services costs between $13 and $17 each week depending on how many diapers a family decides to order.  Let’s assume the family spends roughly $15 a week for 60 diapers a week.  This equals $780 annually and averages to $65 a month.  Over the course of two years, the family will spend about $1500 per baby, roughly the same cost as disposables, depending on what type of covers are purchased and what type of wipes are used.  If one adds in the cost of disposable wipes for either diapering system, the costs increase.”
  3. “Cloth Diapers.  For cloth diapering, each family will probably need about 6 dozen diapers10.  The cost of cloth diapering can vary considerably, from as low as $300 for a basic set-up of prefolds and covers11, to $1000 or more for organic cotton fitted diapers and wool covers.  Despite this large price range, it should be possible to buy a generous mix of prefolds and diaper covers for about $300, most of which will probably last for two children.  This means the cost of cloth diapering is about one tenth the cost of disposables12, and you can spend even less by using found objects (old towels & T-shirts).”

For information on the cost please go directly to the source of this information The Real Diaper Association.

3. Dryness and Rash

Although cost can be a factor, I will more likely be sold on something because it is better for my child rather than someone telling me the cost is low. If you feel that way too, check out these facts from The Real Diaper Association.

What they have found, is there is no significant difference between disposable and cloth when it comes to diaper rash.

  1. “The most common reason for diaper rash is excessive moisture against the skin.19″
  2. “Newborns should be changed every hour and older babies every 3-4 hours, no matter what kind of diaper they are wearing.20″
  3. “At least half of all babies will exhibit rash at least once during their diapering years.”

So you can rest assured whichever type of diaper you use, you are not promoting the occurrence of diaper rash from that alone. What is more important is what they eat and how often you are changing them.

4. Health

  1. “Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process.  It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.  It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S..1″
  2. “Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.2″
  3. “Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.3″
  4. “In May 2000, the Archives of Disease in Childhood published research showing that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis.18″

This is all great information, but I think it is important to note that as far as this research goes number 3 has not be proven to cause any harm. Simply because something is similar does not mean it is that SAME. Do not panic if you have been using disposable diapers. It is also important to note that they have not clearly defined what “prolonged use” is in number 4.  I recommend going to The Real Association of Diapers to find out more details if you feel concerned.

The Real Association of Diapers is a GREAT website. Seriously! I had no idea one could actually wash cloth diapers at home, without paying of  a service. It has tips on how to switch, support groups, testimonials, etc. Check it out if you are interested! And no matter which type of diaper you choose, be well informed. You know what will be best for your family and child.

Finally, if you find that you are sold on this cloth diaper idea check out THESE adorable ones from Ramparoo!!  Or ones from gdiaper, which are a hybrid biodegradable disposable cloth diaper. I may start on this and my child is almost out of diapers


Why Should I Hire A Professional?

In our free market society, tools and machines used by professionals in all varieties of fields are now more readily available to the public than ever. If I want to buy a professional grade commercial Singer sewing machine, I simply go to Amazon and BOOM! I can start my own small sewing company. If my child is prone to earaches- you guessed it, I can go to Amazon and buy a machine (EarCheck) that will help my diagnosis of whether she has one yet again. Both of these things are great in there own way, but they do not in themselves make me a Professional seamstress or a Professional Doctor simply because I paid for a machine or tool.

Dictionary.com defines a Professional as  “a person who is expert at his or her work: a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs:” As the digital world continues to grow and expand, it is becoming easier and easier for the common person to take pictures of vacations, 1st days of school, birthdays, etc (the small moments) and not have them totally stink. In fact sometimes they look pretty good! Because let’s be realistic- one is not going to hire a professional to follow them  around while they are getting the kids ready for school. That being said, it DOES make a difference to hire a Certified Professional Photographer to catch the moments that count. Here are a few reasons why….


A Certified Professional Photographer  “affirms a knowledge and experience base for practitioners in a particular field, their employers, and the public at large.  Certification represents a declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence. Consumers may not know a lot about professional photography, but they know that certification should ensure professional-quality goods and services. Those who have earned the Professional Photographic Certification have passed a comprehensive written exam measuring their technical expertise, and have successfully submitted their work to a panel of judges for review and approval.” Please note; this Explanation was taken from  Certified Professional Photographer’s Website. Why not let someone else do the work and research of the photographer’s talent for you?! Shouldn’t this process be easy and reassuring? At Stephanie’s Portrait Design we know you want that reassurance of talent and ability which is why Stephanie is a Certified Professional Photographer.


One of the criteria the images presented for Certification must meet is Consistency.  Often clients are not happy with the photographs their amateur photographer delivers for them.  The client is not sure why that is and often the photographer is not sure either.  They just shoot until they get something that looks good, but they are not able to reproduce that work for the next client that comes along.  From the Professional Photographers of America website, “It should be heartbreakingly difficult to select your favorite images from a family or child portrait session because almost every image should move you. If there are only one or two shots that you’d consider framing, then you’re not dealing with a professional product.” 1 Amateurs can create some great images, but they may not be able to recreate that great shot unless the conditions are just right. A professional should be able to duplicate a great image because she knows what she is doing and why she is doing it. And a professional is dedicated to improving her craft and she is there to help her client display their images in the best possible way.


“I thought we’d get into the studio, see what we could get in a few minutes of shooting, and then they’d move on to the next person. But it was never like that—our photographer was willing to wait around and work extra to get great photographs. We never felt rushed.” -Brandi Sparks (“See the Difference“)

When you hire someone who does this for fun or is a family member they may not provide you with the attention you rightfully deserve. They either already feel like they know you, are doing you a favor, or want to get moving because their 5 year old has a soccer game they need to make in 45 mins. This is your family history! Don’t do that to yourself. When you hire Stephanie, you will have a private consultation before any portrait session occurs. This is so she can get to know you, your family, and your needs and wants! You will plan the session prior to that day. This will MAKE your experience wonderful!! This meeting ensures a mutual understanding about what the goals are so that the day of the session, the only thing everyone is focused on is smiling and having a fun time! This particularly makes a difference as a new mom. I worked with a non-certified photographer for Claire’s baby pictures. I had only spoken with my photographer to schedule a time (she knew nothing about us nor did she ask), she was 15 mins late (which with a baby is BAD!) and then we spent another 15 mins hemming and hawing over what we should do. Also I was stressed the entire time! And although I liked the pictures of my sweet Claire, they weren’t what they could have been nor was the experience great. Don’t do that to yourself!


Professionals have the ability to see what the image will be in ways we who don’t specialize in this area do not. They understand all elements of the portrait such as lighting and composition. This is especially important as Stephanie will create portraits not only in a studio but in a beautiful outdoor environment, or a wide range of other locations you can discuss at your initial consultation. As each setting will be different in background and lighting,  it is essential that your Photographer understand how to maintain a natural looking image by applying the right amount of direct or supplemental lighting. No red-eye or blurred pictures here!!


If you think your day to day digital camera was high end wait until you see Stephanie’s!  A Professional Photographer will know all the ins and outs of the equipment and how to use it properly.  I know I do not begin to understand what shutter speed or aperture is but if I did I am sure without training I could not use it to the best of it’s ability. It really boils down to- I could have the best camera that money could buy but if I am spending too much time concentrating on how to change the shutter speed I will miss the split second smile of your newborn.


When it comes to printing your portraits, it is important that they be printed by a professional lab.  Just as you want to select a professional to create your portraits, quality is very important to a Professional Photographer as well. They use professional labs and calibrated equipment to make sure there is consistency and quality in their product. Just like you will and should be picky about your Photographer, Stephanie is picky about where your portraits are printed and how the final product looks! Only the best is what you deserve!

These are just a few of the reasons why I, Haley, strongly believe in Professional Photography. This is NOT a bash local non professional photographers. I think it is great so many people have the ability to have this hobby! I just feel that your family history moments should be as important as all of the items we don’t think twice about spending money on such as clothes and entertainment. After all- your child is only born once, loses their 1st tooth once, graduates once, etc.

On a side note, Stephanie’s new studio is great! Claire and I stopped by for a visit the other day!!

See more of our work on our website.

Become a fan on facebook.


Family Portrait Sessions

We have had some adventures this summer.  I love creating family portraits because it is a moment in time with how your ever changing family is now.  Each age is special and as the kids grow they dynamic of your lives change.  I love looking back at portraits of my family over the years to see how each of us changed and remember some of the fun times we went through during that period in our lives.  We tried to tell my brother that wasn’t a good hair cut on him at the time and it was funny as an adult he asked us why we didn’t tell him how silly he looked.  Alas, we had.  But it is fun now to look back and remember.

What a cute family.  The kids had so much energy.  The boys were even a great help to get mom and dad to smile when we took their portrait.  I really had a great time chasing these guys around, being silly with Mr. Monkey, and making funny faces.  Even though this military family won’t call Virginia their home for long, it was a pleasure creating these images for them to remember their time in this beautiful part of the country.

I had a great time photographing this family.  The girls did a great job and were all smiles.

This family was so much fun.  They had just retured from a cruise and it was fun to hear about their adventures.

It was an honor to photograph these guys.  Aside from being great neighbors, they are great friends.  I love creating family portraits with the four legged children.  They are such a great part of the family.  I was sad to hear poor Cooper was diagnosed with cancer.  These guys wanted to create this family portrait so they would always remember the time they had with him.  He is such a sweet, friendly little guy.  Whenever we go over to visit he makes sure we do not miss out on petting him the entire time.  We wish you the best Coop and love you guys tons!

And I love this image of them.  What a beautiful image to capture the love they still share after all these years.  Thank you for sharing part of your special family with me.

I love creating beautiful images.  Time passes so quickly.  While the children are growing the days may be long but the years are short.  Hold them close and cherish every moment.


Baby Mini Series- Tips and What I Wished I Had Known

Who Doesn’t just LOVE babies?! They are adorable and cuddly and SO MUCH FUN! That being said they are also had work and sacrifice that is well worth every drop of sweat and tears! We know many of our clients are at all stages of   motherhood with some about to begin, have just begun, or are old pros at raising and caring for babies.  We look forward from hearing your feedback as well. As moms and members of families we are in this together!


To start, we have asked friends and family what they wished they had known before they began the incredible journey as a mom. Here is some of what they had to say.

  1. “Marry someone who will help you with the baby including changing diapers.”
  2. “Peppermint stick in baby bottle of water will help ease stomach gasses (better know as collic).”
  3. “I Wish someone would have told me how HARD breastfeeding would be. It’s the hardest part about bringing home a new baby. Each and every time. It hurts, it’s hard, it’s hard to learn how to for both you and the baby, and I might add it hurts again because it really does hurt that bad! It takes about 6 weeks before you get to the point where you finally feel a strand of confidence in doing it. However, once you get past that point you’re a pro and it’s WONDERFUL for both you and the baby. Pure motherly joy.”
  4. “If you can make it through the first month you are good to go… to me it was the hardest and I recommend having family come for at least a couple of weeks.”
  5. “I would walk into the kitchen, get some chocolate, then warm the bottle, then get Olivia up – by then I had enough sugar in my system to keep me going.”
  6. “Buy a swing and a bouncy chair – they are life savers.”
  7. “Also it is so hard to not want to buy everything – even now – she’s two and I have a hard time restraining myself.”
  8. “Sleep when your baby sleeps. Never wake a sleeping baby(unless you are dying cause you are so full of milk) SWADDLE”
  9. “Hi, make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps (only works with the first one), but it helps to decrease the stress. Use a rocking chair, it soothes both of you. Make sure Dad helps. Keep him involved that makes for a better Dad”
  10. “Breastfeeding is Natural but it Doesn’t Come Naturally”
  11. “I think if you have realistic expectations before you start that it will be easier for you. It took weeks to get comfortable and getting good at it. It takes time and the first weeks wont be like your whole time breastfeeding!!! THose first weeks are painful!!!! I am very happy I was able to breastfeed Michele for 6 months but for others sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out because of medical issues/modesty issues. It doesn’t make you less of a mother if you can’t breastfed. But I think always remember that millions of babies are formula fed only and are healthy happy babies. The most Important thing is that the baby is GETTING FED!!! It’s not as important on how!! You’re not a better mother if you breastfeed.”
  12. “I agree with Rachael, having some family there to help you while you adjust is a good thing.  I didn’t have family there until 3 weeks later and those 3 weeks were the hardest, but after my mom and grandma had come it was so much easier.”
  13. “Make sure you read and get as much information on nursing as posible if that’s what you plan on doing, that was really hard for me at first.  And be sure that once your baby falls asleep for a nap you put them in their bed.  Don’t continue to hold them or that’s what they’ll expect from you in the future.  It took 2 months to break Mylee of thinking she needed to be held while she slept because Juden wouldn’t lie her down for fear he would wake her up.”
  14. “I think that the greatest thing a mother can do for her children is to take care of herself.  If children have a mother who is healthy emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, they will feel loved and secure.  They will be taught well.  They will have a wonderful example to follow. They will know that God loves them.  They will want to serve others. And, they will know joy”
  15. “Having family around is good, only if they are relaxing to be around. If they are high maintenance guests, it will only stress you out. Not having my mom around the first few weeks was good for me; I love her, but she is not relaxing.”
  16. “Taking care of yourself is going to be the hardest part, since you will want to put the little one first. Shower everyday. I 100% agree with Amelia.  Spend time with your kids because they may not remember that your laundry was always done & your kitchen was spotless, but they will remember if you take the time to get down on the floor & play with them!”
  17. “Don’t expect to be perfect & that just because you have read the books & attended all the classes, you have got it figured out.  Motherhood I think is a lifelong learning process.  Nothing can truly prepare you for a baby but it is the BEST unpredictable adventure life can hand you!”
  18. “My last piece of advice (I shouldn’t have so many for only having one baby) is to get on a schedule!!!  This was such a life saver for us.  We had our baby sleeping through the night (in his own bed!!!)by 8 weeks & has been for the last 2 years.  Try to feed at the same times everyday, nap at the same time everyday.  Thay way you can plan your day & the baby learns the schedule.  If you allow the baby to set the sleep/eat schedule you will be exhausted & lose the fun & beauty of being a mother!” Breastfeeding can be hard & stressful & definitely not natural.  It can cause some serious emotional trauma.  It took us over a month to get it right.  Fix bad latching early–go see a lactation consultant. It’s totally worth it!  Breast refusal?  Same thing.
  19. Babies DO NOT like tummy time on hard surfaces.  Be patient, it’ll get easier.  And they love tummy time on your tummy or chest.
  20. Epsom salts are the answer for everything.  Can’t sleep?  Take a bath with Epsom salts.  Sore bum after delivery?  Bath with Epsom salts.  Baby is colicky and you’re one stressed mama?  Bath with Epsom salts.
  21. For those who have vaginal deliveries, be sure to take all the hospital pads (the regular ones & especially the ones that get cold).  Also, use the water bottle to squirt your bum while/after using the bathroom.  Adding a couple of drops of Calendula oil to the water adds anti-inflammatory action too.
  22. Put a waterproof liner on your mattress.  It’s really annoying to try to get milk out of the mattress when you leak during the night and old milk smells really bad.
  23. Some babies do not like to be swaddled.  You can cut up all those receiving blankets to make cloth wipes instead.
  24. If you want to breastfeed, try it. If it doesn’t work (like it failed for me), don’t sweat it (like I did) because it won’t help the situation.
  25. Your husband is your best asset in raiding the little one. He can really make all the difference on a regular basis.
  26. Other than that, my only advice is that nothing can really prepare you for being a mom. It will be so different from everything that you have ever experienced, at least it is for me! But, I would not change a thing and I would do it again. Embrace every moment because they change really, really, really fast.”
  27. “Babies grow so fast, it’s ok to let the housework pile up. Just spend as much time enjoying them as you can. And it’s ok to let Dad help out, he needs to learn too!
  28. However, I don’t think anybody could completely prepare you for a baby. Their experiences are going to be completely different than yours.”
  29. “Use a baby sling from day one to baby wear. It keeps baby close but still allows mom her freedom. It keeps me from feeling like I can’t get anything done and I have the sweet loves of the baby on my chest. Also, relieved my back pain from carrying around the car seat and the hassle of a stroller.”
What  great advice!
“Let people help you!”
“Don’t stress about HOW the birth will go. You are no less or more of a mother is you have the baby naturally without epidural, with epidural or via C section. Research and know all options but don’t plan about the way “you MUST” have your baby. It will happen the way it will happen- many times our of your control. “
“Cut yourself a break- You will be going on like two hours of sleep the first month-so when your grumpy-you have reason- same when the house is dirty. Have someone who is not you remind your husband-your still in there and you will reappear when you have had more sleep.”
“Use a Certified Professional Photographer. We did not. And it’s not that she did a bad job, but the quality and experience-it just isn’t the same.  See for yourself- (but that is one adorable baby Claire!)”
“Spend every precious moment you can snuggling your baby- they grow fast and if yours is like mine-once they can wiggle away snuggle time is few and far between. That being said -put your baby to sleep in there crib at night-worked wonders for us. “
The book “Happiest Baby on the Block” was a LIFE SAVER for me! The bible for happy sleeping babies.
Finally-don’t relay too much on everyone else’s advice- you are mom- you and your doctor will know best! “
How many of us have wished we could only understand what our little baby was wanting when they wail and cry? Well maybe now we can! Stephanie found this AWESOME VIDEO that I WISH I had seen before I had Claire. It is about understanding the baby language in order to communicate with your little baby. SO SO SO cool. I cannot wait to have another one so I can test this out.

Newborn Portrait Sessions

We have been delighted to have so many new little ones in the studio this summer.  I think at one point I knew of four babies born one week, between clients, family, and friends.  My favorite part of these sessions is the snuggle time I get to enjoy.  And they smells so good and are so soft.

I loved my time with this precious baby girl, just 8 days new.  She was just so perfect and sweet.  She let us change her cute little outfits, which her dear grandmother made.  Yes, she made these adorable little things.  Mom and grandma had a beautiful, vintage vision for her newborn session.  I love the portrait that hangs on her nursery wall.  We selected a nice white vintage frame that fits right in with her amazing vintage nursery.  Great job on the nursery as well.

This little guy was a champ, just 3 days new.  His mom found this cute little hat and diaper cover.  He really enjoyed being swaddled and finally fell asleep for us.  Was a great little snuggler he is.

What a great combo, 7 days new Peter and Peter Rabbit.  He was so cooperative in letting us dress him in cute hats.  Grandma found a fun little green frog hat that he looked so adorable in.  We definitely tired him out.

I love creating these special images.  Newborns change so fast and it is great to be able to remember when they were so small.


Reading is Important; A Day of Service

September 29th has been dedicated as a Day of Service.  The governors in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, the Mayor of DC, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and members of the Interfaith Council have come together to engage citizens to collect food donations and assist those in need.  Our church is participating in various forms by gathering donations for the food bank, diapers for those who can’t afford them, hospitalized veterans, and books for underprivileged kids in Richmond. 1

Isaac and I love reading.  As you have read in past posts we even collect books from around the world and look forward to reading them with our children.  We feel reading with our children is so important.  Reading with children helps develop a stronger relationship with you, increases their aptitude for learning, helps them with their speech, betters their communication and language skills, helps develop their logical thinking skills, can acclamate them to new experiences and reduce their anxiety when beginning something new, enhances their concentration and discipline, and helps them be excited about reading instead of viewing it as a chore. 2

We decided we would love to donate books to the Book Bank of this Day of Service.  We wanted to reach out to all of you to invite you to participate with us in collecting books.  We are looking for new or gently used books to be distributed to underprivileged children in Richmond.  “A study in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia found a ratio of 1 book sale to every 300 children.” 3  That is a huge deficit.  We want to give these kids a better opportunity to grow intellectually and develop in to the people they have the potential to be.  We feel education is an important aspect of helping a person better their situation in life and want to give these children a better chance for a better life.  Please join us in our goal to donate 1000 books for children.  We can not do this alone.  If you would like to help by donating new or gently used books please contact us 804.477.6617 or bring books by the studio, 101 Buford Road, Corporate Hills Building, (come to the back side of the building, it will read 8014 Midlothian Tpk above the door) Suite 315.

We are so excited about this opportunity to serve.  Get your kids involved.  They would love to be a part of helping someone out.  Children gain confidence and self-esteem when they are a part of serving others.  Have them choose books they think other children would like to read.  Bring them with you to drop off the books.  We want to thank all of you for your willingness to be a part of this great opportunity to serve others.


A Few Fun Children’s Portrait Sessions

This has been such a busy summer!  I have been behind on posting some of the fun sessions we have had over the last few months.  Here are a few of the children we’ve had the privilege to photograph.

This sweet one year old enjoyed exploring the field of flowers.  She was still learning to be steady on her feet but it was fun watching her toddle around and exploring her surroundings.

I had so much fun with these boys.  They love trains so we headed to the train station to see what we could find.  We were so fortunate to have a train pass by about every ten minutes during our session.  It was fun to capture their exuberance.

I enjoyed this sweet four month old.  What a precious joy she is to her mom and dad.

I really enjoyed these children.  They were full of energy and so fun to hear their stories.  The oldest is a talented dancer, the second loves to read, and the youngest kept us laughing.  Three is such a wonderful age.  They say the craziest things. Each one of them are such a delight in their parent’s lives.

I just love this image.  I have been looking forward to photographing this little guy for some time.  He has the most gorgeous eyes and I just love his curls.  It is hard to believe he is one year already.

I enjoy capturing the individual personalities of children.  They are each unique and full of life.  They grow and change so fast.  There is something I love about each age that is particular to that stage in life.  What a pleasure it is to create beautiful images for you to cherish long after your precious little ones have grown.