This post will wrap up my Cloth Diaper Week and a Half. I’ve had a great time chatting with you all and answering your questions. I’m going to try to get a little more in depth here and address some of the common concerns and questions I seem to be receiving. Look at this as sort of an update to my original cloth diapering posts I wrote 2 years ago, a retrospective on cloth diapering a baby from infancy through potty training.
First, let me be honest with you all and say that my 2.5 year old who is now daytime potty trained is wearing *gasp* disposables for nap time and night time. It’s just the best option for us. He’s only using 2 diapers a day, and 75% of the time he waits to poop until he goes to sleep. The poopy diapers needed to be laundered every 2-3 days, but I only ever had 4-6 at a time to wash. It was either wait longer and let the stink sit longer or do a wasteful load on a few diapers. Plus, he’s now 39 lbs, and while the bumGenius 4.0s and Fuzzi Bunz one size pocket diaper fit him still, they are getting a tad snug. So I hung up my cloth diapering hat for the time being.
However, we did fully cloth diaper (with the exception of travel) Kendall for a good 2 years.
Some Lessons Learned
1. I will never, ever use the Imse Vimse diaper liners again. Many times they wound up in the wash and became tangled and pilled up in my aplix. I blame these for me having to completely rip up and replace all my bumGenius 3.0 aplix tabs. (I like these liners instead.)
2. Kendall had a few really bad rashes that were reactions to foods around the time he turned one. We had to use prescription creams to clear these up, and even though I was diligent about lining his diapers to keep the cream from coming in contact with the fabric, it still built up on our diapers and caused many leaking issues. In the future, if I have to use a prescription cream for a similar reason on the baby, I’ll go ahead and switch her to disposables until we’re done using it. It’s not worth the frustration of stripping our diapers.
Speaking of diaper cream, a lot of you want to know what kind we used. We never had issues with Burts Bees and Aveeno. From what I understand, you want to avoid anything with cod oil or any fish oils in it. Here’s a helpful link.
3. I’m glad I have more snap closures in my stash now. While it was great to have the ease of an aplix (like Velcro) closure when Kendall was squirmy, it was frustrating once he could reach down and rip it off himself. There are few things more frustrating than picking your baby up from his nap only to discover he’s undone his own diaper (through his pants!) and there are turds scattered about the crib. I would recommend having a good mix of the two, or at least enough snaps to use for night and nap time.
The Wash Routine
A lot of you expressed hesitation about washing your diapers. I promise it’s not difficult! The biggest, most helpful tip I have for you is use cloth diaper friendly detergent. The brands I’ve used without issue are Charlie’s Soap (our mainstay, which we use for all our clothes), Crunchy Clean (smells so GOOD!), and recently I’ve tried Rockin’ Green Soap. All of these work in HE washing machines, too.
When your baby is in the newborn stage and is only eating breastmilk, you can just throw your diapers, poop and all, into the wash. Once you start them on a drop of formula or solids, that’s out the window. It’s at that point (or actually before) that you need to decide if you’re going to use liners or a diaper sprayer or some other method to remove the poop from the diapers before washing. I liked the liners, but had issues with ones that weren’t big enough to catch all the poop. Make sure that they really cover a vast majority of the inside of the diaper, especially during the transition stage from breastmilk poop to solid poop called peanut butter poop. Also, I think this time around we’ll go ahead and install a diaper sprayer just to clean up any messes that get left behind by the liners.
Yes, this is the “icky” part of cloth diapering. I’m not going to lie, it’s not pleasant, but as I’ve said in the past, poop is a part of parenting, no matter what kind of diaper you use. The upside to cloth diapering is I promise you will deal with far fewer poopy blowouts. It really all balances out in the end, I think. (Someone mentioned being afraid to put poopy cloth diapers in their nice washer and dryer. Let me tell you, poop will end up in your washer with or without cloth diapers.)
So, assuming you’re past the breastmilk only stage, the first thing you do is remove the poop. Then you can toss your diaper in your pail (still loving my white, step lid trash can from Target, lined with an XL Bummis Tote Bag). I aimed to do diaper laundry every 3 days. I would throw the whole load into the wash, toss the Bummis bag on top and start with a rinse. Then I followed with a hot wash and whatever soap I was using at the time followed by at least one more cold rinse. Then I tossed them in the dryer on medium heat. (I have a retractable line that I intended to air dry our diapers on, and I’ll confess I hardly used it.)
Every now and then I stripped my diapers if they started to stink or leak. I did this by adding a couple squirts of Dawn dish liquid to a HOT wash and then rinsing as many times as it took to make the suds disappear. There are also great instructions on various ways to strip your diapers here. (Please feel free to chime in below if you have a method that you love and works for you, as I’m not convinced mine is the best.)
As for the time aspect of the laundry, I never found that it was that much of a burden. It was one extra load every few days. The most time consuming part was re-stuffing the pocket diapers which made up 95% of our stash. I was always able to do that while watching TV or hanging out with Kendall, though. It really didn’t take much more than 10 or 15 minutes. And I assure you I don’t stay up on other laundry very well. Our closet floor usually looks like a Macy’s vomited all over it. But the diapers were just never that much of a hassle.
I write these posts and answer questions in an effort to try to simplify things, but the reality is cloth diapering is very overwhelming in the beginning. There are just SO many options, which is great because you will hopefully find something that works perfectly for you and your family eventually, but I understand completely how daunting it is to try to figure out just what that option is. That’s why I really recommend starting out with some sort of inexpensive/rental newborn solution.
You all know I love the Kissaluvs Size 0 Newborn Rental from SunshineDiapers.com. If you want to do something that’s not a rental, I’ve heard great things about using prefolds and covers with newborns, too. (And many times you don’t even have to pin the prefolds, just fold them in thirds and put them in the cover.) This is a great way to jump right into cloth diapering and still give yourself a chance to figure out what’s going to be a good long term solution.
Some argue that cloth diapering a newborn is too overwhelming, but I disagree. You’re still (supposed to be) changing your baby’s diaper every few hours. The only thing you’re adding to your day is a load of laundry (since they go through so many diapers in the newborn stage, you will likely be washing every 12-24 hours). But think of the time you’re saving not rushing to the grocery store in the middle of the night to stock up when you suddenly discover you’re out of disposables! Really, it’s not that bad, but that’s just my opinion based on my experience.
While you’re learning the cloth diaper ropes with the newborn diapers, you can look ahead to some other options by buying one of a few kinds/brands that interest you, or you could go a step further and try out a rental package that includes a variety of options, like Sunshine Diapers Test Drive Set or check out JilliansDrawers.com (I would link you, but right now their website appears to be down). Hopefully after trying a few different diapers, you’ll find what works best for you, or at least well enough to get started. You can always add to your stash down the road.
Yes, cloth diapers are a substantial up-front investment, but don’t be afraid to ask for help! Start a cloth diaper registry, let it be known to all your friends and family that you’d love an Amazon gift card, which could be used to buy diapers and supplies, or hint at having them throw you a cloth diaper shower. The money savings is real, even with the first kid, and becomes HUGE by your second. If you’re only having one baby, or this is your last baby, keep in mind you can still recover some of your costs by selling your diapers after you’re done with them.
It’s all a matter of perspective. I nearly have a heart attack now when we have to buy a case of disposables for Kendall to wear, and he’s only going through 2 a day! I can’t imagine having to make that purchase weekly. One case costs us as much as one new pocket diaper.
Our stash with Kendall only ever consisted of 21 diapers at a time (beyond the newborn stage), and that was plenty to get us through 3 days before washing. It is easy to get sucked into the world of expensive, fancy cloth diapers, and that’s when cloth diapering can lose out at being an economical option. The key is to find what works for you, get enough to get you through, then STOP. There will always be newer, cuter, softer, snazzier diapers coming out, and it’s fun to indulge in a new one every now and then, but listen to me when I say STEP AWAY from the online diaper shopping once you have a decent stash built up. (If you want to save money, that is.)
Was It Worth It?
Absolutely. While I’ll admit there were times I got frustrated with our diapers, like when the prescription cream caused leaking issues or when Kendall began tearing them off, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The money we saved, the chemicals I kept away from my child, the minimal waste made it all worth it.
And now I’m downright giddy heading into it a second time around. I’m happy that Kendall is mostly potty trained and has been since a little after turning 2. I guess I can’t say for sure that the cloth diapers had anything to do with that, but they didn’t hurt. And I found that the older Kendall got, the easier cloth diapering became. For one, he wasn’t going through as many diapers toward the end of his second year, meaning fewer changes and fewer loads of laundry.
Now that I’ve got this experience under my belt, I’m looking forward to an even smoother experience with cloth diapers this time around. I can’t wait to show off pictures of baby girl’s fluffy butt (if she ever freaking decides to get here). We will be starting her out in disposables until her umbilical cord falls off and she’s passed all the meconium because I’m not cleaning that black tar off our pretty, fluffy diapers.
I hope this week has answered some questions for you, introduced you to some great companies and products, or at least sparked your curiosity about cloth diapers. Please, please ask any questions you have below. I will do my very best to get back to you at some point or find someone who can help you.
Kendall is 2 years and 7 months old and I’m 40 weeks pregnant!