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!
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Well, you have me partly convinced, and there’s no baby in sight for us. And I’m soooo not a crunchy girl. But I am a money-saving girl. 🙂
Wheee!!! ::dances like Snoopy::
Sooooo just told the hubby I want a little bean just so I can cloth diaper their little bum. Not a good reason?! Still baby cloth diaper fever.
what scent do you like of crunchy clean detergent? and for charlies, do you use liquid or powder?
I really liked the Crisp & Candied Crunchy Clean. We use powdered Charlie’s Soap.
We’re also back to using disposables for naptime and bedtime for our 2 year old son. We cloth diapered full time up until this point. It’s too much only washing a few diapers, plus he’s right at the BG’s 35 lb weight limit and they are very snug. Hopefully you are having that baby girl right now!
Your posts are so helpful for this discussion. One thing I want to add, however, is that, for those who will have their children in daycare: CHECK that the daycare will accept cloth diapers! Many (I would say most) will not. We’ve cloth-diapered until now (she’s 19+ months), but are switching daycares shortly, and the new one doesn’t allow cloth diapers (it’s a NAEYC-certification issue, apparently). If you have a child in daycare full-time, it’s a very different set of, at least economic, considerations if you’re going to have to provide disposables for daycare.
It’s definitely important to check, both because, yes, that’s a big investment to make if your daycare won’t work with you (and I’m sorry yours won’t!), but also because lots of daycares (at least from what I’ve heard from friends who’ve had success) will. They just need a little education on the advancements of cloth diapering.
great great overview!
… in response to the daycare post above… so sorry your daycare won’t use cloth.
our center is accredited, also… and we just had to get a note from our doctor saying that we used cloth for “medical” reasons… and they were able to comply. they still put each diaper in a separate plastic bag (like the disposables)… but it’s a small waste in the big picture, in my book.
All of your posts have been incredibly helpful! I may have to print this one out! A few things I am still a bit confused about:
-Are inserts and liners the same thing?
-If you are using a diaper with a stuffed pocket, and you pull the insert out, isn’t most of the poop still left on the diaper itself?
I’m so glad!
No. Inserts, or doublers, are what you put inside the diaper (usually a pocket diaper). If you’re adding a “doubler” you can do this with any diaper to increase absorbency.
Liners are paper-like and you actually lay them between your baby’s bottom and the diaper to collect the poop.
Yes, you shouldn’t have any poop on the insert in a pocket diaper, actually, but it’s still important to pull it out to make sure it gets nice and clean (unless your washer is one of the few that actually agitates them out on their own).
Do you always wash your diapers in a seperate load or would you combine diapers and other stuff?
Always separate. I’ve never wanted to add anything else to the poopy mix.
Just throwing it out… Cloth was no problem at all with my dd’s umbilical cord or with the meconium. I didn’t spray or anything… Just threw in the wash and they came out perfectly clean. I’m so glad we didn’t use any disposables, even in the hospital, on her! (and our friends watching ds while we were in the hospital continued using cloth on him!)
Does anyone have experience using flushable liners with a septic tank?
I don’t, but I believe someone answered you below.
Question… what brand/kind of disposable will you be using for your newborn? Do you have a fav?
I got one pack of newborn sized Pampers WITHOUT the drymax. It’s the same thing I used on K (what they sent us home from the hospital with), so that’s why I chose it. I actually found it at Big Lots. Everything at Target by Pampers had Dry Max and I didn’t want to use anything with that.
Hey there – LOVE the blog and LOVE these posts but I wanted to counter some of this as a “disposable diaper mama”. I think cloth diapering is great but I also see the disposable side – obviously, since that’s what we use. It’s all about what works best for you and your family…
With that said, we have 2 kiddos (2.5yo and 10mo girls) and use disposables and have never had a rash that didn’t go away with one or two applications of diaper cream, we’ve had very few blowouts, and we’ve never had to run out to get diapers in the middle of the night…now, as for the rash and blowouts I can’t say whether or not things would have been different if we used cloth but I just wanted to point out that using disposables does not necessarily equal rash and blowouts…or midnight diaper runs.
So for me, I think the only thing that would sway me is the cost and energy savings – and I know you have a post about that somewhere so folks should check that out!!
Regarding the daycare issue: Ours is accredited and one of the most sought-after in our area. They had never done CD before my son, but once they saw them, they were totally excited and have been supportive ever since. Maybe the prohibitive regulations are localized.
And Mary Beth — I was cautioned to never use inserts in our septic, even though they’re “flushable.” Our peanut-butter poop stage didn’t last all that long (a couple of weeks?), so I simply scraped with a plastic spoon into the toity until we got ploppable poops.
Thanks for chiming in with your perspective! I, of course, can only speak for my limited disposable experience, so that’s where I was coming from, but I’m glad it works out for you 🙂
I just wanted to say that we used our Kissaluvs right through the meconium stage and it all just washed out – no scrubbing, no stains. We did put olive oil on his bum at every diaper change so he’d wipe up easily – that may have helped, but lots of moms on the mothering.com discussion board said it washed out for them too.
That’s so weird. Kendall and Julesy are just about the exact same age, and it looks like we started cloth diapering at the exact same time too!
I don’t have much to add, except that I LOVE LOVE LOVE my diaper sprayer, and cannot imagine CD’ing without it. I have also used it for *ahem* personal hygiene, if you know what I mean. 🙂
Also, I’ve learned not to put a cloth diaper on a Brand new-newborn. The meconium is like tar and can be hell to get out of the dipes. Most diaper shops will say to use a ‘sposie or a flushable liner until the meconium is gone.
I’m also THRILLED that we already have the CD’ing down with another one on the way, and I’m such a huge fan of the FuzziBunz One Size that I can’t wait to use them on the new baby. We started CD’ing with Pre-folds and Thirsties covers, and I thought I loved those until the velcro was all ruined and breaking off in less than a year. I can’t go back to velcro now that I’ve gone to snaps. I’m also thrilled to have found Rockin’ Green detergent because it gets the dipes so dang clean.
Unfortunately CD’ing has NOT talked Julesy into potty training. He’s no closer now than he was 2 years ago. I know I’ll have two kids in diapers soon, but I’ve done that before, so whatev. My kids refuse to make ANYTHING easy on me.
I hope you get the washer situation worked out!
My son is on formula and I throw his diapers, poop and all, right into my washer and I have never had a problem. I could never figure out why it was bad to do so? To me it’s not much different than breastmilk poop.
I would not do that once he is on solids, since there might be chunks and such, but for now it is working for me.
Hmmm… interesting! I’ve just always read and been told that formula will make the poo less water soluble.
Same here..My son is on formula too and before he was on solid food, I threw the diaper in the wash too, poop and all.
Thank you so much for this, and all your other posts. It’s blogs like yours that helped me look into and ultimately make the decision to CD. (helped me convince the hubs too.) It’s posts like this that make me feel like I am really making the right choice.
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you 🙂
I am working on a set up to cloth diaper my baby that is due in October. Do you dry your bummis tote in the dryer; low heat? Their website said to line dry, but I am thinking that would take a while to dry. Also, I have gotten the BumGenius 4.0 and it says the same about the diaper shell. Do you always line dry your BumGenius or do a mixture?
Your blog has been so helpful in getting me started, thank you.
I rarely, if ever, line dry. I just don’t have the time or the patience these days. My liner and my diapers have gone in the dryer on medium for years with no issues. I don’t wash the liner with every load. I only wash it about once a week, or if it’s really gross. Good luck!
Thank you for all of the information. I feel better informed and yet more overwhelmed at the same time. I guess doing a test run (the sunshine site seems down) with a trial pack is the way to go?
Unfortunately, Sunshine Diapers is no longer in business. But definitely start with a trial of some sort if you’re still unsure.
Bummer..you had so many links that looked so good to them!
I wish it was easier to be sure..or just have confidence in a decision and move forward already!