Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cloth Diapers

*Warning: I make several references to baby poop in this post*

As I've mentioned in the past, our family uses cloth diapers.

Most of the time, that is. We use disposables when we travel, or every once in awhile when we have to change a diaper on the run. I keep a few up&up's handy in our diaper bag.

Here's a freshly-laundered stack of clean diapers. They come in a bunch of adorable colors! Now that it is summer, we can coordinate Caroline's dresses with her diapers for an extra-cute, extra-easy outfit.

For us, cloth diapers are a cost-saving measure. The initial investment was substantial, but it will save us money over the years. We're all for saving money on things like this. You know, so we can go on vacation more often and such.

Josh calls me a cloth diaper salesman. It's probably true. But that's only because I've had a number of people ask me about them -- friends who are potentially interested in doing cloth diapers with their own children. And cloth diapers work well for our family, so I'm happy to share about our little system.


I'll do my best to answer the questions here.

What kind do you use?

We use bumGenius 4.0's, the kind with snaps instead of velcro. We'd heard from friends that velcro can wear out after multiple washings. Snaps don't. At $17.95 each they aren't the cheapest cloth diapers on the market. But we have a few friends that use this brand and they've been happy with them. Plus, we figured that if we were going to go with cloth diapers, we wanted some that worked. Like really well.


These particular diapers are called "pocket diapers" because (obviously) there is a pocket involved. There are two parts - the cover and the insert. The covers come one-size-fits-all with all kinds of adjustable snaps. And every diaper comes with two inserts, one that's small for infants, and one that's larger and adjustable for bigger kids. Caroline didn't stay in the infant size for very long, and now we use the larger, more absorbent insert. For overnight needs, we stuff her diapers with both inserts for super-duper absorbency. It looks like the world's largest diaper, but IT WORKS.


So yes, we've been really pleased with them thus far. They...

A) Keep poop and pee in. The most important part, of course!
B) Are cute.
C) Will expand to fit Caroline as she gets older.
D) Wash clean and dry quick.
E) Have different absorbency options for small babies and big babies, daytime and overnight.

When did you start using them?
Although the diapers claim to fit babies as small as 8 pounds, I don't think they're the best for itty bitty babies. They're just a little big for newborns. We put Caroline in cloth around 6 weeks old, when she was between 9 and 10 pounds. We'd thought we would wait a little longer, but disposable diapers kept failing us, again and again. Pampers. Huggies. Newborn and size 1. Daily blowouts. So we tried cloth, and found that our blowouts decreased SIGNIFICANTLY. Yee-haw.

Do they leak?
No diaper can keep it all in, all the time. But we've been really pleased with just how these work. Our blowouts went way down when we made the switch. She rarely pees or poop out of them.

What is the cost savings?
I've read that families spend $1500-$2000 on diapers by the time their kids are potty trained. On the flip side, we have about $500 worth of cloth diapers and they'll last the entire time. And, they can be re-used for future kids. Bonus.

What about poop?
There are no two ways around it. You have to get a little more up close and personal with your baby's poop when you're using cloth. Most of the time, you'll need to get the baby's poop out of the diaper before you wash it. But really, it's not that big of a deal. Aren't you already more up close and personal with somebody else's poop than you ever thought you'd be?

When your baby is on an all-mama-milk diet, dirty diapers are no big deal. You don't even need to get it out of the diaper before you launder it. Just take the poopy diaper off your child, store in somewhere, and throw it in the wash with the others, come time.

It all changes when your baby starts on solid foods. Her poop is no longer water soluble.

One of our friends turned us on to these little beauties: Flushable liners. We put these between Caroline's botton and her diaper with each change. And then when we've got a dirty diaper on our hands, we can just pull a corner of the liner off of the diaper, and dump it into the toilet. And flush it away. EASY.

They're usually a little residue left in the diaper, but the washing machine can handle it.

What about diaper rash cream?
Our diapers don't recommend you use diaper rash cream with them, because it can worm its way into the fabric and decrease the absorbency. Obviously this can be a bit problematic, since rash cream comes in handy. However, when you use diaper liners, you don't have to worry about it. They protect the diaper from the cream.

Are they hard to use?
Nope. The process of changing them is really similar to changing any other kind of diaper. Since we use liners, there's a very small extra step involved. We also use baby powder on her little bottom - the cornstarch-based kind. Traditional baby powder uses talc, and that can be bad for babies' lungs. So I read, anyway.

What about wipes?
We also use cloth diaper wipes (why not?) and have been pleased with them thus far. We use this kind, which we like because there's a little bit of texture involved. It comes in handy for scrubbing! They really look and feel like little washcloths. We keep a little bucket of water + a squirt of baby soap + a squirt of baby oil near her changing table. When we're ready for a change, we just dunk a dry cloth wipe into the bucket to get it wet, and then wipe away.

When we don't have the little bucket handy, we just dunk the dry wipe under a running faucet to wet it down. It works just fine.

Where do you store them?
bumGenius recommends that dirty and wet diapers be stored dry (no water or solution involved), which is great because it's super easy.

We've got two places where we keep them in our house, mainly because we have two floors and it's convenient to have two spots.

First, we've got a little plastic trash can/diaper pail in the garage.

The other spot is right in her bedroom. We bought a big wet bag online and put up a little sticky hook on her dresser. It is lined with something waterproof, and zips on top. And it does a great job of keeping all the smells in.

And - bonus - I just toss it in the washing machine with the diapers and clean them all at once.

What about the smell?
Of course used diapers smell. We just do our best to manage it. Diaper pail in the garage. Zipper bag in Caroline's room.

And on diaper washing day? Especially since our washer and dryer are right off of the kitchen? We burn candles. And sometimes just take off for an hour.

How do you launder them?
This part isn't too hard. First, pull the inserts out of the diaper covers and put them all in the washing machine, along with the wet bag and diaper wipes.

We have a fancy-schmancy washing machine (thanks to my in-laws!) that has a "Sanitary" cycle built right in. It's a looooong wash cycle (2+ hours) and we give it an extra rinse as well. Once per month we add a half cup of bleach to the load, which nicely takes care of lingering smells.

If you don't have a crazy washing machine, it's still totally doable. First wash the diapers on cold (to get the poop off, basically). Then wash on hot to get them nice and clean. Then give them an extra rinse before drying.

We line dry the diaper covers and use the dryer to dry the inserts, the wipes, and the wet bag.

You're supposed to be super careful on what you use for detergent, since dyes and certain chemicals can break down the diapers over time. We use a scoop of Charlie's Soap and a half scoop of Baby OxiClean.

And there you go. More than you ever wanted to know about cloth diapers! Anything I'm missing?


Any further tips and tricks that I should know about, all you veteran cloth diaper-ers?

Also, there's a bunch of resources on the internet (of course!) so feel free to check out these links for more info:
Cotton Babies FAQ
Pin Stripes and Polka Dots


Erika said...

I totally agree, Jess, we love cloth diapers - they are so easy to use once you get used to them. We keep our dirty diapers in a bucket of water. Helps with the smell until the bucket gets too full. Thanks for the tip about the liners and cream for diaper rashes. I'll have to use that one in the future :)

Jedda said...

We love cloth too! It's fun to hear about cloth at someone else's house though :) You are a good salesman btw!

Carrie, the Monforton Norton said...

Thanks so much for blogging about the cloth diapers. As a new mom to Baby Greta, I am looking forward to using up all of our disposables as we transition into cloth diapers. I enjoy your advice from trial and error as I begin to navigate this journey.

angela said...

Thanks for the idea of flushable liners! The only thing I would add for anyone considering cloth diapering is a good drying rack that's unobtrusive. My husband made me two from this website:

coribell said...

So I have a question about pre washing. Did you prewash darks and lights together and how many times did you prewash. The paper work is saying 5-7 times for cotton. I'm assuming the inserts, and the covers just once. I checked online but they are not specific. There was a sticker that came on the dark colored diapers
that say to prewash separately from other colors. Do you wash all of yours together. Covers and inserts? Thanks again

Anonymous said...

hemp liners +one reg insert for over night works great!