5/12/08

Cloth Diapers

This is an aside from the blogs about baby food. It doesn't really fit with the content of my blog, but I have had so many friends ask me about using cloth diapers lately that I thought I would write a post about it. If cloth diapers are not your thing, no worries, there will be more baby food posts to come.



I started using cloth diapers when Little E was about seven months old. I was opposed to it initially thinking it was too much work and too expensive for a family who has to pay per load for laundry in our basement. Not to mention how expensive it can be to purchase the diapers initially. I started rethinking the idea when he began to use fewer diapers a day and poop less than when he was an infant. I did quite a bit of research asking friends who use cloth diapers what they use and how they care for them and looking on the internet for the perfect combination for our needs. As a result, I was able to buy 12 diapers for $80! That seemed affordable to me, so I took the plunge and bought the supplies. Twelve diapers will last me about 3-4 days, so I am only doing 2 extra loads of laundry a week. And, because we waited we were able to get covers in a size that should last him through potty-training without having to buy more supplies. Like making my own baby food, I take the hybrid approach. I use cloth diapers when we are home and use disposibles at night and when we go out. I find the cloth diapers don't hold as much pee and poop to get us through the night.



Now, I know there are some AMAZING all-in-one diapers out there. They even have snaps on the diaper that make it a one-size-fits-all diaper you can use from the time your baby is born until potty training. Cool, huh? I looked into it. We just couldn't spend the money required to purchase a dozen at $18/each. Perhaps if I had started out with cloth diapers I would have registered for these awesome diapers. I have even heard of people giving diaper baby showers where each guest buys a diaper for the mom-to-be. We couldn't do it this far into the game, so here's what we did...



I started out with a high-quality chinese pre-fold diaper. They are a big, rectangular white diaper with two seams down the diaper vertically dividing it into three parts. You may have used this kind of diaper for a burp cloth. In my research I decided on a high quality version counting on them lasting longer and absorbing more.



I added a fleece lining that I place over the diaper to keep him dry. It's a white strip of micro fleece that wicks away the moisture. I was concerned we might have a problem with diaper rash from all of the moisture, but we haven't had any problems and he stays dry with the liner. And, it catches most of the poop, so it's easier to dump in the toilet, or dunk if it's too sticky.*



I ordered both of these items from http://www.cottonbabies.com/. Their website has a lot of really good information about choosing diapers, how to prepare them to use, how to launder them, how to fold the pre-fold for different babies, and accessories you might want to buy to make things easier (diaper pails, portable diaper pouches, a sprayer that attaches to the toilet, etc.) I'll tell you more about what we do for some of these things in a minute.



The cover we use is from a different website that was recommended by a friend. I was about to order these super cute covers from Cotton Babies thinking I might need 3 or 4 covers and could reuse them if he only peed, however my experienced friend told me they stink if you reuse them and suggested the cover she uses. They are probably the cheapest out there, they get the job done and if something happens to one of them they are easy to replace. With a cover that velcros tightly you don't need to use pins or a fastener, either.



As I said before I ordered 12 of each piece for a total of $80.



To get them ready to use you have to wash the diapers 4-5 times in hot water. They need to bunch up to be ready to absorb. Cotton Babies has great instructions for this process. It only took me an afternoon to get them ready.



Now, about how to care for them. Taking my same experienced friend's advice, I hang an ordinary mesh laundry bag on my back steps. When we have a soiled diaper I dispose of the poop in the toilet if he's pooped, then I bundle it up like you would a disoposible and toss the whole thing in the laundry bag. The covers have a place to velcro the tabs down so they don't stick to each other or the diapers in the wash. So smart. Keeping it bundled keeps the stink factor down a lot. Sometimes I smell a faint scent of ammonia signaling me it's time wash them. Most of the time, though, they don't smell at all until I unbundle them to wash.



When it's time to wash them I separate all of the pieces and throw them into the washer. It smells a bit, but I am used to it by now. They go through 3 cycles in the washer. First, I soak them on cold with a scoop of Oxy-Clean (a mother's best friend!), and a small cap of detergent. Second, I wash them on the heavy cycle with a capful of detergent on warm. Third, I rinse them again with cold water. I find this step keeps them from stinking too much after they are worn. It might be a step you could avoid if you have a better washer. It's important to use the right detergent, because some detergents that have softeners keep the diapers from absorbing pee, resulting in leaks. Cotton Babies has a good list of detergents you can use. To my surprise a few of the detergents are the cheaper brands.



I dry them in the dryer on low heat without a dryer sheet. No dryer sheet follows the same principle as the detergents with softners. Believe it or not they come out clean, white and void of smelliness!



That's it in a nutshell! We have been really pleased with our diapers thus far. I find I have to change him a little more often or else he'll have leaks, and I've had to experiment with different folding methods to make sure the diaper is covered by the cover to keep leaks to a minimum. But, all in all they have been a good purchase for us. We'll be moving to another country soon and I think these diapers will help save us a tremendous amount of money there because disposibles are even more expensive (if you can believe it). Also, I hope to save our supplies and use them with future babies, too.



*I've found my babies poop changes from time to time. Sometimes it's really solid and just falls into the toilet and sometimes it's really loose and requires me to dunk his diaper in the toilet to get the poop off. One of my friends bought the sprayer from Cotton Babies that can attach to the toilet making it easy to get the poop off. It's kind of gross, but the old school dunking method works for me right now.

I'm interested in hearing any of your comments about cloth diapers.

4 comments:

Pixie said...

I'm almost out of the detergent I bought on-line & thinking about trying some of the ones on that list. Is there a store/chain that sells them? I know where to buy All Free/Clear but have never heard about a military brand

karin said...

I'm not sure about where to buy all of them. I was thinking about using Arm & Hammer Essentials, but decided on Purex Free & Clear. I can get both at the Grocery or Target. I think some of the brands they list are local store brands, not sure. Hey...thanks for all of your diapering advice along the way!

the ruffhouse said...

Thanks so much Karin for taking the time to familiarize us with cloth diapering! I took the plunge (and dug deep into the wallet) and got seven all in ones for Lyla. I'm very pleased with them, though the one size fits all means she has an extra padded rump right now (until she's a bit larger I suppose). And thanks too for "permission" to be a hybrid. I find it much less stressful knowing I can still use a disposable if I've not done the laundry or my mother in-law is coming to keep the baby. =)

BumGenius Cloth Diaper User said...

My wife and I bought the hand sprayer a while back and we love it. While the old school method will still work, the sprayer is a life saver :)

 

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