It's been just 3 months since my last post on cloth diapers, but a friend just inquired about them. Here are my current thoughts:
With child number 2, I am still a lover of cloth.
I wanted to use cloth for the reasons Helene sited (environmental benefits, etc) but couldn't get over the grossness factor of my foggy memories of my mom using cloth, so I really didn't consider it. With Jackson, we had so many blowouts (at least daily). I was in the Papaya Patch trying out baby carriers when my baby blew through a carrier (yes, we bought it and loved it!) the woman helping me mentioned that cloth diapers would probably help me with the blowouts. I gave her an incredulous look, but asked a little more about it. A few days later, I ordered a try it kit from Cotton Babies. Once I switched, I spent much less time handling poo.
Now I'll sometimes go months without using a disposable diaper. When I first made the switch, I went 4 months without a disposable, and only used them when we were on vacation for a week. During that week, I missed the cloth a lot. I missed cloth wipes even more.
To start off, I'll reference my previous blog postings about fluff.
I guess I have this to add:
With Jackson, I used Chinese or Indian unbleached prefolds and covers. Most of my covers are Bummis Whisper Wraps plus a few ProWraps and a Thirsties. The people who like Thirsties and ProWraps like the gussetts around the thighs, but my babies are so big that the gussetts don't really give any added benefit. We didn't have leg leaks with any of them.
Using cloth, I had a single blowout over more than 2 years. I guess we had frequent wet leaks at night, but they were very minor. Jackson saved up his nursing for overnights, so there was a lot of liquid coming out. The main leak path was at the top of the diaper in front. Because of the bulk of the diaper, hemp liner (for overnight), and folded over excess diaper, there was an inch offset where the cover didn't touch his skin. So the wetness would wick from the diaper onto the front of his shirt. It didn't soak the bed, and we just lived with it since it was better than the alternative with disposables.
With Jonah, even though he's almost as big as Jackson, the prefolds and covers seem big on him. I have a variety pockets and what not that we are using now. They're not quite as good as the prefolds at keeping things in, but they are better than disposables. We don't have problems with wetness leaks during the day and blowouts are still pretty rare. At night, I can't find anything that keeps the wetness leaks in--not prefolds, pockets, extra liners, or disposables. Right now, I'm giving disposables another go at it, and suffering frequent early morning poo blowouts as a result. In a few days, I'll switch back.
It's a good idea to think of diapering as a system. When you are starting out, get a variety of diapers and find out what works best for your little one. This is what is in my current stash and what I think of them:
BumGenius 3.0 One Size Pocket Diapers. These are a great pocket diaper. They pioneered the One-Size system. The diapers have a series of extra snaps on the front that allow you to adjust the rise so that the diapers will fit size newborn through 30 pounds. In my mind, it doesn't make sense to use CD on a newborn because with how quickly my babies grow, they would only be in that size for 2 months. But with one-size diapers, you don't have to get a new set, just undo the snaps. Many brands now offer the one-size feature. These come with a thick microfiber insert for everyday use plus a second insert (doubler) for overnights. The single insert for day is great, but I don't think even the doubler is enough for overnight. These are maybe $18 each.
Happy Heiny's One size Pocket Diapers. These are very similar to the BumGenius. I like them a little better because the waist band is thicker and the velcro is covered up so it can't rub on the babies tummy. These cost a little more than BumGenius, $20-$23.
Cutie Baby One Size 2-in-1 Diaper. These are ultra cute. They attempted a few new features. The liner is sewn to the back of the diaper so it comes out to dry and you don't have to look for it in the wash (no big deal). The pocket opening is bigger, so they are easier to stuff. They had a great idea with the velcro, the hook side detaches, so you take it off for washing and avoid having a long string of covers come out of the wash. Unfortunately, we are having mysterious leaks with these. I don't know what the cost of these is, I got a babysteal on them.
gDiapers hybrid diapers. There is a review of these on my blog. The idea is that you have a cloth cover and a disposable, flushable, biodegradable insert. I don't get the flushable part, but they now offer a cloth insert instead. I don't have their inserts. I've been using my extra doublers from the bumgenius or 2 microfiber shop rags folded in thirds. I really like these, they have a nice fit and are the trimmest diaper around because the absorbent layers are only in the center, there is very little material on the sides. Drawbacks are that these don't come in one-size and they seem to run small. I was gifted a hand me down set of newborn size and I acquired several mediums. I fear Jonah will be in larges any day now. $15 per cover.
GroBaby one size diapers. These are weird. Instead of a pocket, they have a snap in cloth insert. They are cute, but I think they run small. I am relegating ours to the diaper bag we don't use much. The rise seems too short, and I've seen Jonah's little bum crack peaking out. My friend who has petite babies is loving these for her 2 year old. I don't know the cost, I got them from babysteals too.
Blueberry Minky size small pocket diaper. I know these have been a favorite of friends, and I found some on clearance in size newborn. Sadly they didn't work at all for Jonah, and I retired them before he outgrew them. Price is on the high side.
Prefolds and Covers. These have been the most effective diapers for us. They are also the cheapest (prefold $2.50, cover $11, doubler for overnight $3, Snappi $2.50). They are also the bulkiest diapers. People sometimes complain about how difficult they are to use. You have to fold them (we like the newspaper fold) and there are a few options, then you secure them either by being quick with the cover, using pins, or a Snappi. Then put a cover over them for waterproofing. There's a little learning curve, but once you start using them, it becomes second nature. We used these almost exclusively with Jackson. I eventually got some pocket diapers, and Jason would never use the pocket diapers because things worked so well with the prefold he didn't feel the need to switch. Point is if my husband is willing to stick with it, it must not be that hard.
Prefolds are available with the following options all priced similarly. Bleached (bright white) or unbleached (natural beige). Chinese (blue or green seams depending on size) or Indian (natural beige seams, a little ofter than the Chinese) or Hemp (natural beige felt, these don't work with Snappis) or Gerber (do not bother trying to use these as actual diapers). The snappy is a stretchy T shaped thing with fastener like those used for elastic bandages on each end. They are amazing! Then you need to add a cover for waterproofing. I liked the Bummis best for my chubby babies. The ones I used go on like disposable diapers. Other options are Dappi's, which are old fashioned plastic pants. They are super cheap ($2) but are a mess for a poopy diaper. I have a few that I got for emergencies when I first started using cloth. They now reside in the bottom of a drawer. There is also something called a Wool Soaker. These are usually handmade, lanolized wool. People who use them love them. I don't think I would like them.
You can sub the prefold for a fitted or contour diaper. These go on like a disposable, but still need a cover. I have one Kissaluvs fitted diaper. It fits well and is cute and effective. But it is bulky. We rarely use it. I keep it on reserve in case we have diaper rash, then I let my baby wear it around without a cover so his bum gets to air out a bit. I stay on top of things and change it right away. Cost varies up to $10
Generally, people recommend using a cover for several diaper changes, until it gets poopy. My trial kit came with 2 covers, and instructions to alternate, letting one hang and air out in between changes. Reusing covers will make CD's much cheaper. I didn't like this at all, the covers had gotten damp and retained a pee smell. I always use a fresh cover and think its icky not to. My friend using GroBaby diapers reuses those covers. I think it would be smellier with those than with my Bummis because they have a mesh lining. The gDiapers also recommend reusing covers. They say to wipe them out with a wipe between changes. I tried it, and they were better than the Bummis because you could wipe them. But the gDiapers waterproofing is a little bit porous, so if you let the diaper go very long without changing, some moisture seems to seep through. Not enough to be a leak, but enough to make reusing a cover too far on the icky side for me.
Cloth diapers are like a diapering system. You have to adjust what works with the time of day and the size and shape of your baby.
Cost: Much cheaper than disposables if you consider that you'll spend $50+ on sposies a month. A good stash of cloth will cost around $300 or about 1/2 that if you buy used. So its 6 months worth of expense for 2+ years of diapers. Makes sense even for a single child. I recommend enough diapers for 3+ days so you only have to add 2 loads of wash a week, that's about 20 diapers for a baby over 3 months old. With a newborn you'll go through about 12 diapers a day at first. Even if you don't have as many as you'd like, you could start part time diapers with some One-Sizes while your stash grows. I find that the 2 loads of diapers a week is infrequent enough that I don't feel burdened by the extra laundry. I'm much more likely to get the diapers folded than our clothes. I usually have Jonah on the changing table while I fold and put away the diapers around him.
Washing: Breast milk poo being water soluble, so wash your diapers without a second thought for the first 6 months. I used to use Method detergent, but we were having some odor buildup. I switched to ALL free (it's rated decently by the CD detergent raters). I think its working better than the Method. Use about 1/2 the detergent you would for a regular load. Do not use fabric softener on your cloth. You can use vinegar, although it may not be very good for the waterproofing. You can add baking soda, oxyclean, or borax. I don't bother unless I'm trying to strip off buildup or odors. I haven't done this yet for Jonah's diapers. I just dump my wetbag into the washer then throw the bag in too, do a cold water rinse cycle, followed by a warm wash cycle. Diaper manufactures usually recommend drying the cloth and hanging the covers, unless its an AIO then dry the whole thing. If you can dry an AIO, I figure you can dry any cover. Sometimes I hang them, but if I'm in a hurry I will put everything in the dryer. If I have excess time and its sunny, I will hang the diapers outside. The sun really does fade poo stains. After they are dry, I put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften up. I have never checked my diapers for suds.
Once we are feeding solids, my diapering system will add a cellulose liner to the diaper next to the baby. When there is poo, I just lift it off and put it in the diaper pail (or flush, but not with septic) then wash the diaper. Saves me the hassle of spraying the dirty diaper or rinsing in the toilet. Tasks I don't want to do and I know Jason wouldn't do. These liners are made by a few brands and some are softer than others. They are inexpensive.
Folding. Don't over commit here. I fold my prefolds in half and load up the diaper stacker. I have a bunch of fabric cubes from Ikea that I keep the rest of the diapers in. If I'm feeling energetic, covers are folded neatly and lined up in their cube. If I'm in a hurry, they get shoved in. Having the cubes keeps things looking neat even when I don't have time to fold and line up my stash. I do preload my pocket diapers and fold them, sometimes just in half sometimes tucking the tabs in so they look more neat. For wipes, I use cheap baby washcloths. I fill a 6" cube with them (no folding required), and they poof out the top. It actually looks neat, and they are easy to grab. Next to them I have an old wipes container full of water with a couple of drops of tea tree oil in. I just dunk a few wipes, ring them out, and use them. For travel, I use disposable wipes and usually wash them with the rest, then pull them out of the dry and clean laundry. I have a toilet paper holder that I hang the cellulose liners on. For dirties, I use a Bummis wetbag. For travel, I have a small wetbag, but just one. Most of the time I use a gallon storage bag (not a ziplok) and knot the top of it.
2 years ago