Cloth Diapers 101

One thing checked off the to-do list today: wash our "new" (second-hand Craigslist) cloth diapers.  

In honor of that, I'm going to share a little bit of cloth diapering info that I passed along to some girlfriends last summer (when literally everyone I interacted with regularly was pregnant, considering pregnancy, or had just delivered.  Everyone.)

Image from www.bakersfieldmom.com
Disclaimer: cloth diapering is not all blue skies
and artistic pastel colors in a picturesque field.
Sometimes there's real poop involved.
Feel free to write off this post if you're not into it.  Ain't no thing ...

First of all, I'd like to make a disclaimer: I like cloth diapering, but it's not for everyone.  If you don't want to read this, and if you don't agree with my position, that's OK!  I absolutely don't want to be pushy or to make you feel like EVERYONE should be using cloth diapers just because I'm on board.
Image from www.keeperofthehome.org
This is for those of you who have babies, are getting ready to have them, or may want babies in the future and are considering cloth diapering.  I felt really intimidated by the diapering systems before the Mr. did research about them and picked the one that he wanted (see how intimidated I was?  I wouldn't even do the research!)  But we discovered that cloth diapers basically fall into three categories: covers, pockets, and all-in-ones.  And I was still intimidated until I just decided to take the plunge - Baby Girl was a month old, diapers were expensive, and we had cloth ready to use.  So here are a few things I have learned...

The covers are modern "old-school" cloth diapers - you wrap an absorbent rectangle (called a prefold) around the baby, secure it, and then put a waterproof cover around it.  This used to be with those giant pins and plastic pants, but thank God, there are new and easier ways to secure the prefold and new types of covers!  One of the benefits of this style is that you just have a few covers that you can reuse - if the baby pees, you just replace the prefold and can use the same cover!  So there's not a huge stack of materials to deal with.  There are also more fitted "prefolds" out there that are super absorbent, have snaps or velcro, and fit tidily around the baby so that you don't have to do origami every time you try to wrap a rectangle around a squirmy baby.  You still put a cover over them. Thirsties brand diapers fall into this category, as does Flip and Imse Vimse.

Pocket diapers are what we have - BumGenius is one brand that does these (and this is what we use).  You still have the waterproof cover, but you slide or snap the absorbent pad into a pocket in the diaper.  You can add extra absorbency by using a second liner at nighttime or other times when you won't be changing the baby's diaper as often.  These are popular because while they are cloth diapers, they're very similar to conventional diapers in style and use.  We are using BumGenius and we love them - and we've gotten our families to use them too with relative ease.  Fuzzibunz makes pockets also.

All-in-ones are just that - the cover is attached to the absorbent piece.  I think a lot of brands make these - we have a few BumGenius all-in-ones that we like, but the only downside is that they take forever to dry.  So I only use them when we're in a pinch.  All-in-ones are popular because they are the most like disposables - one piece, nothing to assemble or disassemble.  Easy as pie.

The brands that I'm most familiar with are Bumgenius (pocket and all-in-one, or AIO), Thirsties (covers),  Fuzzibunz (pocket), and Kissaluvs (pockets and covers). 

Some extra things that come along with cloth diapering -

(1) detergent that has no additives, brighteners, scents, or colors.  We have used All Free and Clear as well as Charlie's Soap (made in NC!).  Washing in other things can deteriorate the waterproofness of the diapers.

(2) wet bags for cloth diapering on the go - if you change a diaper at church or your parents' house, belive me, you don't want it sitting wet (or worse) in your diaper bag.  Wet bags are washable and waterproof.  They are your cloth diapering friend.

(3) washable trash can liners - these have elastic around the top and fit into a large size trash can.  We have two, and when we wash diapers we just dump all the diapers and the liner into the machine to be washed.  That way, we don't ever have to touch poop.  I can't remember what brand we have, but we purchased two of them on amazon for about $25.

(4) cloth wipes and spray bottle - I didn't do this for a long time, because I thought that I would be pushing myself over the edge from "Mainstream Though Somewhat Granola" to "Really Weird - Watch Out".  But, I gave in.  I cut up a flannel receiving blanket, zig-zagged the edges, and bought a 97 cent spray bottle at walmart that I filled with water, 1 tsp. of baby oil, and a few squirts of baby soap.  I shake up the bottle before spraying, wet the wipe, and then use that instead of disposable ones.  Note: I only use it for wet diapers.  Dirty diapers still get the throw-away wipe treatment.

(5) drying rack - with a few exceptions, you're not supposed to put the waterproof part of anything in the dryer because it breaks down the waterproofness.  So, some kind of line or rack is super helpful! 

A few nice "extras" ...

(1) Someone gave us some Kushies Diaper Liners - these are flushable sheets that go in the diaper between the baby and the diaper.  That way, when there are solids, you don't have to touch any poop or anything.  You just lift out the liner and flush it.

(2) We also have a diaper sprayer that hooks up with our toilet so that we can spray the solids that are left in the diaper if the liner doesn't do its job or if we forget to put one in there.  It's like one of those sprayers at a kitchen sink with a little button you push to spray.  We like ours - it's the bumgenius brand - but I read somewhere that you could build one yourself out of hardware store parts for like $4 if you know how.

(3) We don't cloth diaper all the time.  We used disposables for the first few weeks, and usually when we travel for the weekend we'll use them.  So don't feel like if you're using cloth that you're locked into doing it all the time.

I like cloth diapering, but I will let YOU ask ME any questions.  My goal is to not-offer unwanted advice.  Just know that you CAN do it if you want to try.  There's a learning curve, but take it easy on yourself and just give it a go if you want.  Buying one or two of different styles, or looking to borrow from friends, or purchasing used cloth diapers on craigslist or ebay are all great ways to get started in the adventure.  

The end.

1 comment:

  1. I love cloth, it has been a perfect fit for us, and great description of everything! My only additions:

    1. We use only a large wetbag (no diaper pail liners) that I keep in the bathroom where I spray the diapers. It's from Planet Wise and it's great and keeps smells in. I am about to buy a second wetbag because we have the issue of what to do with dirty diapers while the wetbag is being washed. I ignored this little issue until Aslan stole (and chewed) a dirty diaper two days ago that was sitting on the toilet waiting for its wetbag to return from laundry. Mama no happy.

    2. I tried cloth wipes and it was the only time Addie has gotten a diaper rash! :( I was all geared up to use them, too. Maybe my wipe solution wasn't bueno?