You may or may not be aware that Shane and I have decided to cloth diaper Tristan. It was a decision we made well in advance of his arrival and thoroughly researched. These are not your mother’s cloth diapers – no folding or pins required! Our decision was based heavily on what we see as a budget-friendly option. We also love that cloth diapers are environmentally friendly and not filled with chemicals that irritate Tristan’s skin. What’s more, since there are no moisture-wicking chemicals, babies who wear cloth diapers tend to potty-train quickly as they are able to understand what wetness feels like.
We received different reactions from different people when sharing our decision. Some are more supportive, others just curious to see how it works and still others just think cloth diapers are gross. I thought I would share our experience so far.
I first became interested in cloth diapering after seeing John and Sherry from YoungHouseLove use them on their daughter. Cloth diapers have come a long way and are styled like a disposable, but are in fact reusable. There are a number of different cloth diapering systems available that range from traditional Gerber flat cloth diapers, to hybrids with a reusable cover and disposable insert to all-in-ones (AiOs) with no removable parts. Diapers are available in a range of materials from organic cotton to synthetic microfiber to wool. You can choose to use a service that picks up your dirty diapers and drops off laundered diapers or you can wash them at home. What works best for us may not necessarily work best for your family, but many options exist if you’re interested in cloth diapering.
That being said, I spent months researching all about cloth diapers. I read up on several websites such as Cotton Babies and obsessively followed the cloth diapering message board on BabyCenter. The message boards were probably my best resource as I was able to learn about the different problems faced by other cloth diapering mamas and how they are solved. The CD Mamas were not shy about providing honest reviews of cloth diapers and related products. Once I had a deeper understanding of the different types of cloth diapers and the pros and cons of each, I was prepared to choose a system that I believed would work for us.
I wanted to work exclusively with one-size All-in-Ones (AiOs) that would grow with our baby and last through multiple children. I always like getting the most bang for my buck. I also thought they would be the easiest to use for both me and my husband and also for family or babysitters. We created a universal registry on Amazon and added a few different brands of AiOs to see what we might get. General cloth diapering advice is to not sink all your money into just one type of diaper. They fit uniquely as each baby is different and you may need varying levels of absorbency (overnight, for example) that you can’t necessarily get from a single style of diaper. We received a couple GroVia AiOs and a couple BumGenius pocket-style diapers. Since we wanted at least 12 diapers, we had to decide what else we wanted to purchase. I had read many fantastic reviews of BumGenius products and I really wanted to stock up on a few styles of their diapers. When it came time to order online, they had a sale I simply couldn’t pass up and I ended up purchasing all BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers.
What exactly is a pocket diaper? It consists of a waterproof outer cover with soft fabric on the inside, which is what touches your baby’s skin. The absorbent piece is inserted in a pocket in the diaper cover. For our BumGenius 4.0s the insert is made of microfiber, but you could easily replace it with an insert of your material of choice. We opted for snaps over Velcro as we read they hold up to repeated laundering and last longer without replacement.
What’s also really great about pocket diapers is that you can customize the absorbency by doubling up inserts for overnight or by using different materials. The downside to pockets, however, is that you have to stuff them after you wash. We don’t mind doing so as we usually just do it while watching tv, but it can be a pain if you’re in a rush and don’t have a diaper ready to go. This just comes down to personal preference and how much prep you want for your diapers.
We have been cloth diapering now for just about a month and we absolutely love it! We had to wait until Tristan fit into his one-size diapers. Seems counterintuitive, I know, but they are rated for babies 8-35+ lbs. With his skinny legs, we had to wait until we were sure no unpleasant surprises would sneak out the leg openings. (Tristan still doesn’t fit in his GroVia diapers, but should soon). We could have invested in newborn-sized cloth diapers, but I thought it a shaky investment with the baby’s size unknown before birth. So for the first month and a half we used disposables. I admit, after using the disposables, I was nervous to transition to the cloth. What if it was a complete disaster?! Luckily, we are thrilled with our decision. It took a few days to adjust and get a new system under our belts, but we couldn’t be happier.
I’m sure you’re wondering how we deal with the yuck and wash the diapers ourselves. Diapers that are just wet are the easiest. Once the diaper is off the baby, I use a wipe to remove the insert from the pocket, wrap it lightly in the cover and deposit in the wetbag (we use PlanetWise wetbags in place of a diaper pail). The used wipes go in a separate, smaller wetbag since we use disposable wipes. I’ve toyed with the idea of switching to cloth wipes, but can’t quite seem to sell it to Shane. I should also note, we’re planning on purchasing a small lidded trash can for the nursery for the used wipes as the second wetbag just isn’t working for us.
For diapers that are soiled, the general premise is the same, but we also get to use our BumGenius Diaper Sprayer. The link explains in depth, but it hooks up to the toilet and you spray the solid stuff into the toilet and flush it away. We then remove the insert and put the used diaper into the wetbag.
For when we are out and about, we have a couple small wetbags we keep in our diaper bag to stash used diapers until we get home.
Once we are down to just one or two diapers, we wash the rest. This consists of emptying the wetbag into the washing machine and throwing the empty wetbag in as well. We then use a scoop of BumGenius detergent, although any dye, perfume and enzyme-free detergent would work. It’s very important to avoid additives when you wash the diapers as they have an adverse effect on the absorbency of the diapers and could irritate your baby’s skin. We wash the load on hot and do an extra rinse on cold to remove all the detergent. Then the inserts and wetbags go into the dryer and the covers are hung to dry. Once a month, we add 1/4 cup of bleach to the load.
Some times there’s a little yellowish stain left behind on the inside of the covers, but an hour in the sun bleaches it right out. What’s nice is that the covers dry pretty quickly without going into the dryer, which would certainly wear them out faster. We then stuff the diapers and are left with a cheerful stack of clean diapers for the next day.
We have 13 diapers in rotation, not counting the two GroVia diapers that don’t yet fit, and do laundry a little less than once a day. However, Tristan started daycare this week, so that has changed a bit. Most daycares, including ours, won’t use cloth diapers, so he is in ‘sposies during the week. Luckily, his daycare provides diapers and wipes, so we are only forced to purchase enough disposable diapers to put him in one each morning before we drop him off. We prefer to do our laundry with as full of a load as possible. However, with him in ‘sposies at daycare, we still have to wash our cloth at least every other day to avoid a build up of ammonia. Since we’ve only had 3 days in daycare so far, I can’t speak too much about how that will affect our current system.
Some argue that our increased water usage for laundry isn’t very environmentally friendly, but I was doing more laundry when Tristan was in disposables having to wash his clothes and sheets after multiple blow-outs and leaks. We have not had a single blow-out while using cloth. So far, the increase in our water bill has been negligible.
I love our cloth diapers for their leak-free protection and they’re just so darn cute! I like to dress Tristan in just a t-shirt to show off his colorful diapers. How can you resist?
We made it using cloth diapers 24/7 for a month, and I don’t regret our decision one bit! If we made it through that, it should only get easier from here on out since we don’t have cloth to wash from daycare. In fact, I look forward to continuing to cloth diaper Tristan and any future children we have.
Let’s hear your thoughts! Anyone else a CDing mama or papa out there? What works for you? Are you just surprised by how much cloth diapers have advanced? Any questions for me? I love talking about all things cloth diaper related!