Cloth diapering – the specifics

Okay.  This is the post where I will talk more about the specifics of what we are doing – the types of diapers we use, hook you up with some more great links, talk about our process, and even give you my husband’s opinion of cloth diapers.  This too will probably be quite lengthy, so bare with me.  I will try to make it as informative as possible, but please also keep in mind that this is solely based on our experience alone and that even if our method doesn’t seem right for you there are still so many more cloth diapering options out there.  So… let’s begin (wow that just made me feel like a college professor).

Since the pocket diapers we are now using don’t work all that well on tiny newborn sized bottoms, we started out with rental program for some itty bitty cloth diapers from  Check it out here. These are called fitted diapers and need to have covers over them.  We got 24 diapers from the program (enough to make it two days since newborns typically go through about 10 to 12 diapers a day), and purchased 6 covers in NB, XS and Small on our own (2 Proraps NB, 2 Bummis Super Brites and 2 Thirsties – Thirsties were our favorites, but they all worked fine for us).  We only needed a few covers to fit at a time since you can reuse a cover as long as it’s not soiled with poop.  We typically had three in rotation at a time.  We would let two air out while using one, and then wash a couple with each load.  At the end of the program, we returned the 24 fitted diapers for a store credit of $120 and kept the covers.

People may ask why a rental program when you can buy these newborn sized diapers cheap used on forums like and keep them for future kiddos?  To them I just say that while that is a fabulous idea, I didn’t know how much I would end up liking these particular diapers and didn’t want to have to deal with finding them used (because  you kind of have to stalk that website, and it becomes addicting) and then possibly have to list them for sale again.  Plus, I have no idea when the next kid is coming, and I’m too fickle.  I’ll probably like something better by then.  The rental program is great because half of my diapers were brand new, and Rhea at Sunshine is great with communicating with you on how to take care of them and if anything were wrong with any of them I could return it and get a different one.  You don’t get that sort of guarantee when buying used from someone.  That being said, is a FABULOUS place to find excellent deals on cloth diapers.  You have to be a little patient and do your research, but if you want to go that route, more power to you!

Kendall, the big boy that he is, was out of these by the time he was 10 weeks old.  So we moved on to the next phase of diapers that we plan to get us all the way through potty training (and, by the way, a lot of parents of toddlers in cloth diapers say their kids potty train much earlier because, you know, they can FEEL the pee since cloth doesn’t have all those super absorbent chemicals, and they don’t like sitting in it).

I planned to mainly use Bum Genius 3.0 pocket diapers because of ease of use and excellent reviews.  These, once stuffed with a super absorbent natural insert, are very close to disposables in the way they go on.  There is no cover to put on over them.  The Velcro tabs make it a snap to get them on squirming babies, and they are so soft on the inside!  These are also one size diapers, meaning, in theory, they can get your from not quite newborn anymore, all the way through potty training.  You just size the diaper in the front by using the snaps.  So, even though they are about $18 a piece, they are going to last you a long time.  Currently, I have 13 of these diapers, and they are my husband’s absolute favorite.

In addition to the BG 3.0s, I have a few other pocket diapers that I thought I should try out.  I have one Baby Kanga that I am sort of happy with.  It’s an awesome bright orange, and the zipper pocket for the insert is nice since and means that I don’t have to come in contact with any poop when I take out the insert.  However, I find it wicks (meaning pee leaks through) the zipper sometimes :(   I don’t think I will be buying any more. I also have two Happy Heinys and I like them just about as much as my BG 3.0s (I Love the the cow print!).   These are all one size pocket diapers, meaning they will fit throughout the time the child is in diapers, and they use an insert to absorb messes.

I also have two Swaddlebees Organic Velour fitteds.  These are just like the Kissaluvs in that they need a cover, but they are one size fits most (as you can see, I really don’t want to buy diapers that will only fit my rapidly growing chunk for a few months) and I also find them to be a little trimmer than the pocket diapers.  In a moment of weakness I got the sweetest, cutest minky cover for them from  Definitely a splurge and certainly not a CD necessity, but my child is only this small and unable to talk back and tell me to, “take this ridiculous thing off of me,” for so long.

As a poster mentioned on my previous entry, one of the best things about cloth diapers is they are CUTE!!  Seriously.  You can get really carried away with all the super cool options.  I’m currently coveting this Astrokids diaper cover and this bad ass tattoo cover.  How cute are those?!  And let me say it is a GOOD thing Kendall is not a girl because the cuteness factor for cloth diapers for girls multiplies by about ten thousand.  Tell me this is not one of the most stylish little shit collectors you have ever seen?!

Finally, to finish off my “stash” we have one Bum Genius Organic All in One, One Size. This is the ultimate diaper if you are looking for convenience.  No inserts to remove or stuff.  Works just like a disposable.  Fabulous diaper.  Great for the timid babysitter, day care center, or hard to convince daddy.  I’m hoping to add a few more of these to our collection eventually.  They are also a little trimmer fitting, making it a tad easier to fit those jeans over junior’s fluffy behind. (Speaking of that, we’ve found that the Karate Pants by American Apparel are awesome for fluffy butts and we keep a couple pair on a steady rotation).

So now on to the “process”, as in… how do you deal with the poop?  Okay.  Please keep in mind that my lovely little boy is still exclusively breastfeeding, and one of the plus sides to sore nipples and a third round of mastitis (yeah… that’s what I dealt with last weekend… fun times!) is not so stinky poop that is still runny and easy to wash off diapers.  Again, I’m just speaking of my experience so far, and I’ll try to update you as we move through the phases of poop.  I hear peanut butter is the next consistency we get to look forward to…. joy.

As of now it goes like this – Kendall wets/craps a diaper, I remove it, wipe up with a wet wash cloth, take out the insert if it’s a pocket diaper and throw everything into my flip top plastic trashcan (or into my small wetbag if we are out and about), lined with a PUL Bummis Wetbag (this is known as a dry pail system since I’m not keeping any water in there for the diapers to soak in between washes).  It then stays there 1 to 2 days until I do a load of diaper laundry.  Then I dump everything out of the bag (and toss the bag on top) into the washer.  I start out with a cold rinse.  This, I’m told, mimics what the old fashioned wet pail used to do by getting most of the “solids” off.  This is followed by a hot wash and one tablespoon of Charlie’s Soap (an eco friendly detergent, great for cloth diapers). Then I do a final cold wash.  Depending on the weather and my time constraints, diapers (and wipes and inserts and covers and bag) either go in the dryer or on the retractable line to dry.  The final step is to re-stuff the pocket diapers and throw them back in his diaper drawer.  Reading back through that, I realize that that comes off as a lot of steps, and perhaps even a little overwhelming to the cloth diaper virgin.  I ASSURE you that it is really a very easy process.  If I, someone who detests doing laundry and would just as soon buy a new pack of underwear than wash clothes, can keep up with this, then so can you.

A quick note about getting partners on board – If your partner says they don’t want to deal with the poop and can’t possibly help out with doing the laundry, perhaps make a deal.  One of you can throw the dirty diapers in and take care of all the washes if the other agrees to stuff them and put them away.  Surely one of you will be less squeamish when it comes to poopy diapers and can handle the simple task of hauling a bag of diapers into the laundry room.  Because, honestly ladies and gents, poop is part of being a parent.  It becomes about as normal a substance to you as hair product once was.  And I swear to you that even if you never touch a cloth diaper and change all your disposables with rubber gloves on, you will still, many times throughout your child’s early life, get poop on you.  I will put money on it.

Also, I realize that I am extremely fortunate to have the time at home to be able to take care of the diapers all on my own.   I know that many of you are working and or single parents.  But I really, really, do not think that the laundry and up-keep of the diapers takes up that much time in my day.  Think of it this way, you will never have to run to the grocery store in the middle of the night for a pack of diapers because you miscalculated and ran out.  That’s some saved time right there…  and saved sleep.

Does the diaper pail stink?  No.  Not in my experience.  At least not so far (because, keep in mind, his poop doesn’t really stink at this stage).  However, I keep meaning to try some of this Diaper Dust because I hear that not only can it prevent any diaper stink from seeping out of the pail, but it can also make your diapers smell downright heavenly.  I think I will definitely give some a shot once we move on to the more smelly diapering phase (when solid foods = more solid and stinky poops).  However, a big difference with this phase is you are actually supposed to be disposing of the poop in the toilet before throwing it into the pail.  I hear that during the peanut butter poop stage this can be a little difficult and could require some… ummm… scraping?  Or you could use flushable liners that rest between your kid’s ass and the diaper, allowing you to peel off the poop and flush it.  Another option is to attach a diaper sprayer to your toilet.  Either way you roll, it sure beats the pants off of swishing diapers around in a dirty toilet bowl.

Here’s my opinion on a couple things that I thought would be GREAT (and bought anyway against the advice of fellow cloth diaper users) for cloth diapers that turned out to suck:

1. The Diaper Champ is a big loser when it comes to cloth.  I don’t know what it is, but my husband HAD to have the Champ.  I think it’s the name alone that got him.  Like the diaper receptacle was going to hit some sort of homerun.  So we registered for it, got it, used it, regretted it a month later.  It is a constant battle to get the diapers in there and get the damn thing to turn.  Then half the time it gets stuck and you have to open it up and rescue the diapers from its inners (now that’s a guaranteed way to get shit on you).  Save yourself some $$ and just get a good old fashioned plastic trash can with a step open lid and some sort of washable bag to put inside of it.

2. A wipes warmer.  Of course, I knew these were dumb when it came to disposable wipes, but I told myself that having one of these would make using cloth wipes much easier since I could keep them pre-wettened and folded to where they would “pop-up” just like disposable wipes.  Why on earth I thought this would make parenthood so much easier, I have no idea.  Ahhh… I was so cute when I didn’t know anything.  Turns out that pre-wetting and folding the cloths just so was a huge time suck, and keeping something like this plugged in 24-7 just didn’t really gel with the whole eco-friendly reason for cloth diapering.

That brings me to cloth wipes.  They just make sense if you are going to cloth diaper because you can just throw them in the same pail with the dirty diapers instead of having to find a trashcan to toss them in.  Plus, if you are doing cloth diapers for eco reasons or money saving reasons, they are the perfect fit. We have 24 cloth wipes, which are really just the thin Circo washcloths, sold in packs of 6 for $4 at Target. I also have an inexpensive spray bottle that I keep at the changing station (and a small squirt bottle for my diaper bag) that I keep water and a few drops of baby shampoo in (currently, I’m loving Burt’s Bees). I wet the wash cloth and use it to clean up. It rarely takes me more than one to get the job done and Kendall has never had a bad reaction to them, unlike some disposable wipes soaked in chemicals. I wash these right along with the diapers and they’ve held up really well.

::Looks up:: Good Lord! If you’re still with me, well, kudos to you. That’s one hell of a post, and I apologize for the length and the time it’s taken me to get it up there, but there is so much I’ve learned about cloth diapers (and am still learning) and I realize that it can be SO overwhelming when you first start looking at options. Hopefully, as word starts to make its way around, this will become a more mainstream option in the future and you won’t have to rely on long winded and a tad disorganized blogs such as this to get some information.

I will end this by saying that yes, while cloth diapers have come a long way, they do take more work than disposables. Yes, it’s a commitment and a lifestyle choice. But isn’t it worth it to at least investigate (you could always do a trial package)? The money savings or the eco impact alone is amazing, but add those two together, plus the fact that you have more control over what your kid is sitting in all day and you have a pretty obvious winner in my book.

Oh, and for those of you wondering what my husband thinks, he says, “I think they are the best thing we’ve done for Kendall. I love them!” But that only makes sense since cloth diapers and breastfeeding are two of the very few things that bring my husband’s penny pinching side and his desire to be organic and all natural together.

A list of some cloth diapering links to check out (some I’ve already referenced in the last two posts) (check out the Eco-Friendly Family community board)

4 months 4 days old