Monday, January 13, 2014

Cloth Diapers

Over the past few years, I've answered a lot of questions about cloth diapering.  I keep saying I need to write a blog post that I can refer people to, so I'm finally getting around to doing that.
I started using cloth diapers with Marlie when she was around 8 months old.  Contrary to what some people recommend, I wanted to start with a cloth diaper that most closely resembled a disposable and then branch out from there.  I am so glad I did it that way and believe it is the best way to begin cloth diapering without getting overwhelmed.

Marlie in a Goodmama
My all-time (ok, actually 6 years) favorite diapers are the bumGenius One-Size and Fuzzibunz.  They both have waterproof shells and are pocket diapers which means that they use cloth inserts.  I don't mind folding clothes and putting diapers together so it's never bothered me to have to put the inserts back inside the shells after washing.  By having 2 different parts of the diaper, you also have a faster drying time than if you were using a thicker all-in-one.
These one size diapers are also a great value because you can use them for a LONG time!  The bumGenius claims to fit from 7 to 35+ pounds so your child could theoretically wear the same diaper from birth to potty training.  

Emma in a bumGenius 
One advantage of using cloth diapers is that they will save you money compared to using disposables.  However, there is a considerable initial investment as you build your supply of cloth diapers.  The diapers I mentioned above are just under $20 a piece when purchased new and you can get a pack of 12 for just over $200.  It would be preferable to have more than 12 diapers, but that is definitely a number that you can make do with.  Some estimate that they cost of using disposable diapers could work out to be around $2000!  Even the most expensive cloth diapers are probably cheaper than the cheapest disposables!
There is also a great market for reselling cloth diapers.  You can buy them used and depending on their condition, resell them for a large percentage of what you paid for them.
Emma in a Little Boppers


Back when I started using cloth, the first recommendation I received was to wash them in regular Tide.  That is what I've continued to do for almost 6 years and it has worked very well for me.  Today there are many detergents specifically marketed towards cloth diaper users, but I've never had a need to use them.  Here is my regular wash routine:
Spray out any diapers that can't be "shaken" clean
First wash on cold with regular Tide
Extra Rinse
Second wash on hot with regular Tide
Extra Rinse
I love to line dry my diapers if it is sunny outside.  This helps keep the insides free from stains even if they sit dirty in our hanging bag for a few days.  Once my diapers are dry, I may also throw them in the dryer for a short time just to soften and fluff them up.  
Marlie in a Bagshot Row Bamboo (with pins)
We have never actually used cloth diapers at night.  Both of my girls have been heavy wetters and I never wanted to deal with trying to figure out what cloth combination would keep them dry at night.  If a disposable means one less reason for us to wake up during the night, then we are all for it.  Many people are able to find a cloth solution that works for them and I think that's awesome.
Emma in a Goodmama that was also Marlie's
The only extras I've ever really used are hanging bags and a diaper sprayer.  I have a large hanging bag that stays in the bathroom.  This bag zips closed and does a good job of keeping any odors contained.  Since I use mostly pocket style diapers, I always take the diaper apart before putting it in the bag.  That way, I can just empty the whole bag into the washer and throw it in there too.  I also have a small bag that I use if we are out and about and need to do a diaper change.  I just throw the wet diaper in it and take it out when we get home.
A diaper sprayer is not a neccessity but certainly nice to have.  For any poop that doesn't shake right off into the toilet, I spray the diaper to get it clean as I can.  After spraying a diaper, I just throw it into the bag like I do all the others.
You shouldn't use a regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, but you can buy disposable liners if you need to.  The liners will allow you to use a cream and then you can just thrown away the liner without damaging the diaper fabric.  Liners are also great to help with poop clean-up.
Emma in a Lil Joeys
I didn't start cloth diapering Marlie until she was 7 or 8 months old, but I did use cloth on Emma from the beginning.  She was 8lbs 14oz when she was born and although technically she would have fit into many "one size" diapers, they were still pretty bulky on her.  I would highly recommend getting specific newborn size diapers if you want to use cloth that early.  I was very pleased with each of the brands I used with Emma : Rumparooz Lil Joeys, GroVia, Muttaqin Baby and once again my beloved FuzziBunz.  In addition to fitting their tiny bodies better, most of these diapers also have the option to snap down at the waist for the umbilical cord stumps.
Emma in a Bagshot Row Bamboo
Now for the fun stuff.  You can certainly buy as simple and basic cloth diapers as you would like.  You can even make your own.  However, you can also buy some super cute designs and even order custom made diapers.  There are MANY work at home moms who make and sell diapers so that they can stay home with their own children.   Little Boppers and Bagshot Row Bamboo are some of my favorites.
Wool and fleece diaper covers and pants are also very popular with some families who use cloth.  Fitted  diapers do not have a waterproof layer and wool is amazing for helping keep the wetness off of a baby's skin.  It will absorb a ton of moisture yet feel dry to the touch.  The picture below shows Marlie wearing a pair of "longies" over her cloth diaper.  Those are wool pants that were hand knit from a yarn that I selected.


I can't emphasize this enough - cloth diapering does NOT have to be all or nothing.  As I already mentioned, we cloth diaper during the day and not at night.  You can use cloth at home, but not at daycare.  Even part time use of cloth diapers would be beneficial to your wallet and the environment.  

Cloth diapering has definitely worked great for our family.  I'm not saying that any of my recommendations above are the "best" or "right way" but it is what has worked for us over 6 years and two different children.  If you have any other questions I can help with, just post them in the comments and I will update this with answers.    

Here are a few more links that are useful for cloth diaperers:
DiaperSwappers : this site can be overwhelming at first but it has forums where you can learn everything you'd ever want to know about cloth diapering.  You can also buy and sell diapers in the forum.

HyenaCart : similar to Etsy, Hyenacart is a great marketplace for buying diapers, longies and much more!

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