A friend at play group asked my about cloth diapering. Poor thing I wrote a novel with all my thoughts. This is from a month or so ago. I have much to expand on but I thought I would start here.
My opinions on cloth diapers based on the 4-5 weeks of doing them.
First of all I did not start them when Tuli was a brand new new born. By the time I had done all the research and made a decision she was 4 weeks old and approx 8.5-9 lbs. To the best of what I can tell you almost have to get a stash for the first few weeks (depending on the size of the baby) and then a second stash that will last a little longer. Most things have weights and measurements so you know what the ranges are. Danika was only 15 lbs when she was a year old so if Tuli takes that same path things will fit her much long. Nothing I say is really any different than what I read online just I didn’t believe them until I did it myself.
- The most affordable way to go is to do pre-folds (Ranging $2-$3/diaper). Pre-folds are what we think of as traditional cloth diapers (that we just end up using as burp rags). The ones you buy at Babies R Us are not really designed for true cloth diapering. I bought mine from an online store. There are 3 sizes (preemie, infant and baby) but you can always buy the biggest size and fold down for the most thirty route. But really with the price of each diaper why would you only get the big size. When you wash them a few times they poof up and get more absorbent. I have to say I am surprised how absorbent they are. I have cut pieces of fleece to lay in them because it wicks the moisture away from baby’s skin so the fleece feels dry but the pre-fold is wet. There are lots of different kinds of diaper covers. The most affordable is the Prorap ($6.25-$8.50 depends on where you buy it from). If you use this cover you need a snappi (in lue of diaper pins) to secure the pre-fold and then you put the diaper cover over it. You do not need a new diaper cover every time you change the diaper. One will most likely make through the day unless you have a poop out. The Prorap are not my favorite but I bought the small size with the weight range starting at 9 lbs so I think she just doesn’t quite fit into it. I have gotten better about making sure none of the cloth is sticking out and figuring out how to secure the cover so there are no leg gaps. The other things I don’t care for as much is there are no laundering tabs so they get stuck to other things (though I think I have just figured out to just to hook it normally and turn inside out.). The other feature I have found with other diapers covers (like Thristies and Bummis) that I like that Prorap doesn’t do is there is a pocket on the front of the cover so you stick the pre-fold in there and you don’t need a snappi. I have flipped flopped back and forth on whether to use the pocket or not. I have a cover that I bought on eBay that I really like that doesn’t have a pocket on it. The lady just had a baby but once she gets back to making stuff I will probably get more and I think she sells hers for $4-$5. Now all of this is pretty bulky but that doesn’t me or Tuli.
- The next one is the fitted diaper. Those are what I got for free and have made more to complaintment my stash. They still need a diaper cover so all the above applies there. The fitted diapers do not require snappi or pins and gather at legs preventing blow outs into the covers. The ones I made have a fleece against the skin so once again it wicks the moister away from the baby. I think these are $10-$16 / diaper. The only commercial one I have tried is Kissaluvs which I got in a starter pack. I like it. Once again this option is pretty bulky. Unless you get One Size* fitted you will have to buy different sizes as the baby gets bigger. *I know One Size, yea right. But I believe it. They have snaps to adjust the rise and lots or snaps or Velcro to adjust across the middle. I don’t think they would work on a new new born but Tuli can wear them just fine and she is only 8 weeks!
- Pockets Diapers. Sometimes you will see them called All In One – Pockets. So you are doing cloth diapers and you are saving all this money so in my opinion you can splurge and go this route. They range $15-$22 and then you have to buy some extra inserts $3-$5. I have bought some on EBay for less. When you look at it, you can buy One Size pockets like BumGenius (I found one at Target $18 and there are rumors Costco might be carrying them… but it is still cool to support all the WAHM’s (work at home mom’s) that have all these online stores)… sorry tangent there! But you can buy a One Size diaper and considering you need 10-20 ($180. - $360) and you can always supplement with prefolds you will still be better off than buying disposables. The brands I have tried FuzziBunz, Henry Heinys and other homemade ones off eBay. The reasons why I like pockets:
o less bulky (I know I said it didn’t bother me but sometimes it does)
o You can control how many inserts you put in them (these are what Tuli wears at night. I put in the insert and then a prefold behind it. If I use pre-folds I put 2 together and then the fleece liner okay that is bulky!)
o I like the one size feature.
o I feel like since you can take out the insert you can get the diaper cleaner than All in Ones with no pocket.
o Easy for other people to change the diaper besides you
o You don’t need a diaper cover
- All in Ones. They are the same price as Pockets. I have tried a few of them and I just don’t feel like that can truly get as clean as all the above diapers and once again if you have a heavy wetter or it is at night you are adding more layers. I think as bulkiness goes these are right up there with pre-folds and fitted diapers.
- Thoughts on Velcro vs. snaps… I thought why on earth would you want snaps they aren’t as adjustable as Velcro. I have been very surprised that they are as adjustable. It is amazing the thought that has been put into making cloth diapers. They will mostly launder over a long time better than Velcro. So I am game for either one.
- Other things you need:
o Diaper pail: Any trash can with a sealing lid
o Dry Bag: The nylon or PUL bag you put in the diaper pail. You can buy fancy print ones or just use nylon stuff sacks from Walmart ( I just made mine)
o Diaper pail deodorizer disk – why you can only buy these through cloth diaper stores is beyond me. I would have used these the whole time with Danika in that gross diaper genie thingy that we had!
o Wet Travel Bag: If you plan cloth diapering when you are out and about (which has been totally easy). I am using an Eagle Creek shoe travel bag but you can buy them.
o Laundry supplies- some detergents are no good for cloth diapers. I use Sun-Free and Clear. Here is more info on detergents.
How I wash my diapers. There are a bunch of websites that all tell you how to wash cloth diapers. Everyone has a different opinion. This is what I do.
- When putting them in the washer I make sure the Velcro is on the laundering tabs (they stick together otherwise) and make sure the pocket diapers are all unstuffed.
- I have an high effinecy washer so I wash in cold on heavy duty cycle, no spin, extra rinse with a little baking soda sometimes (you just want one that has lots of water to get the poop off).
- Next is heavy duty cycle, no spin, extra rinse with detergent but not much usually about a ½-1 Tbsp. Too much soap causes too much sudsing and you have to get the soap rinsed out well so it doesn’t irritate baby’s skin.
- Finally I do a heavy duty cycle, with spin, extra rinse and sometimes a little white vinegar.
- I line dry everything because it dries much faster. Diaper covers so not be dried and I think the pockets and all in ones should only be dried on medium heat so not the ruin the water-proofing. Line drying out in the sun gets the stains out too.
I have a friend with a HE washer and she just throws everything in one the sanitize cycle and using Tide HE detergent. No pre-soaking no extra rinsing. I just haven’t gotten that brave that I only need to do one cycle to get them really clean.
So that is what I have learned in the last month and ½ of clothing diapering. Oh it is additive too. So here are some of the sights I have liked:
http://www.zany-zebra.com/ lots of info
http://www.diaperpin.com/howto.asp great for reviews & general info
http://www.softclothbunz.com/ run by a WAHM. I really like her starter pack that is $53. and good price on pre-folds
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/baby-toddler/care-and-dressing/diapers/cloth-diapers-4-07/overview/0704_cloth-diapers_ov.htm consumer reports
http://www.cottonbabies.com/ good info
http://www.hyenacart.com homemade diapers
http://www.diaperswappers.com the ultimate cloth diapering forum
http://www.northernessence.com/catalog.php?page=2&category=24 some neat skin care stuff