Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cloth Diapers

So many people ask me questions about cloth diapers that I decided to just create a blog for easy reference.  I have recently updated this blog as I discovered some new products on the market that I like and have a greater appreciation for the longevity of certain products.

Why do we love cloth diapers? (I say "we" because my husband actually changes most of the diapers in our house. He made a deal with me before Camille was born, "you feed the child, I'll change the diapers". What a wonderful deal that was!)
  1. The cost. We have the joy of walking by the aisles of diapers in a store and laughing that people actually pay that much to diaper their kids. We wash 1-2 loads of diapers a week at the most and did not notice a rise in our electric and water bills at all. Using pre-folds, we have probably spent at most $300 on cloth and as we near the end of our diapering days with our first, we can honestly say that these diapers will last for at least another 2 kids.
  2. No leaks. The diaper covers made now are nothing like the ones that were used when we were kids. We have had absolutely nothing leak out of a diaper cover. Of course, we have opened a diaper and found some really bizarre foreign objects in there, but trust me, nothing comes out.
  3. Reduced diaper rash. Camille only has trouble with diaper rash when she wears disposables for a day or two straight. If we keep her in cloth, her little bum is happy.
  4. The environment. Many who use disposable diapers will try to placate their own conscience by assuring you that the hot water and bleach you use washing cloth diapers is just as harsh on the environment as diapers in a land fill. Sorry, this excuse doesn’t work and here’s why: you don’t wash today’s cloth diapers in hot water and you would never even think to use bleach on the little piles of fluff. Also, we actually do less laundry in general when we use cloth because we don’t have poo leaking onto clothing like we do when we use disposables. Camille in disposable diapers = 3 clothing changes a day that have to be washed multiple times to get the poop out; Camille in cloth diapers= 1 set of clothes that remain un-stained the entire day (except for food) and are washed easily in 1 load.
Now that I have hopefully convinced you to use cloth, here is what we have found that works.
Newborn Diapering
We started using cloth diapers when Camille was about a week old, so on a 6lb 8oz, 19 inch long baby. Initially we tried the Test Drive Package from Sunshine Diapers (http://tinyurl.com/qbr76j ) and quickly discovered that we like to keep things simple and preferred the pre-folds. To be honest, we probably only tried the other diapers in the Test-Drive Package once before we returned the package for credit and purchased our pre-folds. The best deal on infant pre-folds we found was at Alpine Baby Depot (http://tinyurl.com/qj9nro). We started with 36 Infant Chinese pre-folds, bleached. These fit up to 15 lb babies and Camille wore them exclusively up to about 7 months of age. Camille was and continues to be in the 0-10th percentile for her age. If you’re having multiples, are small yourself, and figure your baby is going to be on the small side, then I highly recommend starting off with the infant pre-folds. If babies in your family tend to grow quickly, you may want to start with a regular sized pre-fold. We also purchased about 6 small diaper covers of varying types. My favorite are the Bummis SuperWhisper Wrap with Velcro closure and the cheapest I have found them are at Sunshine Diapers (http://tinyurl.com/y8bjt4) . We have also used the Thirsties Diaper Covers which are pretty good but I have not found them to be as durable as the Bummis. We do have 2 Wonder Wraps (now brand GroVia), which is a one-size-fits all diaper, but they are not high on my list as they were way too bulky on Camille until she was about 14 months old and they get really smelly.  For Meghan (daughter #2) we started  cloth diapering at birth.  She was small 6lbs 11oz, 18 inches long.  We did purchase some preemie prefolds for her, but I don't recommend them.  They were less bulky on a newborn, but they just didn't hold in anything and she needed a new diaper cover with every changing.

Infant/toddler diapering. We felt Camille needed a larger, more absorbent diaper at around 7 months old. We decided to get the Premium diapers, which are a bit longer than the Regular size diapers as we were hoping this would be the last size diaper she would use. The Premium diapers have turned out to be too large for Little Miss Petite and it is unlikely she will use them to their full potential as she has already begun to show interest in potty training. Nevertheless, the absorbency is great and we just fold them a bit more to make them work. We purchased 36 white Premium Chinese prefold diapers from Cotton Babies (http://tinyurl.com/9sehy). If I could re-think my purchase, I would have bought the Regular size. When Camille moved up to the Premium prefolds, she also moved into a size medium diaper cover. She has now worn these for over a year and it is unlikely given her current size (22lbs at 22 months) that we will need to buy larger covers for her before she is potty trained. Update: Camille wore a size Medium in the Bummis and Thirsties Diapers until potty training. Keep in mind that at 36 months she weighs 28 lbs, so she is tiny. She still wears the Premium prefolds to bed at night and we are still folding them at the top as they are still too big. We haven't purchased larger diaper covers for her. The only ones that fit her now are the Wonder Wraps (GroVia).


Wipes. Something I did not initially think about when I first considered cloth diapering is that you also probably want to use cloth wipes. We have purchased some fantastic wipes from EmiBeans (now called Purple Bean Designs) (http://tinyurl.com/ouv9jf) at a good price. We recommend 3 dozen 8 inch flannel-velour wipes. They are so soft and great to use as wash clothes and on runny noses as well as on baby’s bottom. She regularly has discounted wipes and I believe in July has a “buy 2 dozen, get the 3rd free” wipes sale.
Wipes solution. There are about a million products being sold as “soap” for your wipes. Be careful about what you put on your wipes as you are not only putting that on your baby’s bottom, but also washing it with your diapers. For a while we were using baby shampoo as a wipes solution, only to discover that it wasn’t getting rinsed enough in the washer and was leaving a residue on the diapers. Now we just take a used disposable wipes container, fill it with wipes and add plain old tap water. Really, this is the best thing for your baby’s bottom anyway. If you really feel you need to add some kind of soap I recommend Baby Bits from Sunshine Diapers (http://tinyurl.com/2fa44oj). Just one "bit" with 4 cups of warm water in a disposable wipes container keeps any smell away.

Diaper Pail. We use a plain old plastic step-can purchased at Wal-Mart. For a diaper pail liner, I recommend a Wahmies pail liner (http://tinyurl.com/2dlly9b). Buy 2 so that you have one to put in the pail while the other one is in the laundry.  I do have other brands of liners, but the Wahmies has held up the best over the last 3 years.

Wet Bag (aka what to use when out and about). The best wet bag I have found is the Wahmies wet bag. I bought one regular one and one all day size one from Emi Beans (http://tinyurl.com/2b58uxm). Don’t be fooled by the names; the regular size is sufficient for multiple diapers and has plenty of room to store a day’s worth of dirty diapers for one child. I actually use the All Day size when we travel and it holds several days’ worth of diapers.

Diaper Cream. It is essential to know that diaper cream is an absolute no-no when using cloth diapers.  Thankfully, you will have minimal need for diaper cream when using cloth.  There are many cloth diaper safe balms on the market.  The one we use is called Northern Essence Diaper Rash Salve for Sensitive Skin (http://tinyurl.com/2dxyevh).

Washing Diapers. The Sunshine Diapers website has the best info I have found on this topic. I repeatedly go back to this website when I have questions as the info is so good and very scientific, so here it is: http://tinyurl.com/o9te4g . In case you’re interested we have tried several different types of detergents and right now we’re using Charlie’s Soap. Here is another site called Pinstripes and Polkadots I have found helpful that actually rates detergents (http://tinyurl.com/zez9o).

Daycare. It's all in how you ask.  Never ever ask your daycare provider if she prefers disposables or cloth.  They will always say disposables.  Instead, bring in an example of a cloth diaper you will use, show her how it works and say, "we would like to use these on our child, will this be a problem?"  We did not cloth diaper at daycare with our first, but discovered our daycare provider was more than happy to use cloth on our second daughter.  We purchased the BumGenius 3.0 One Sizes for daycare.  The go on just like a disposable and are adjustable for multiple sizes.  We do have 3 FuzziBunz one-size diapers however, our daycare does not care for the snap closures so I make sure Meghan only wears those on the way to daycare.  That way they do not have to figure out how to put them on.  The FuzziBunz are already proving to be much more durable than the BumGenius.

Potty Training Panties. When Camille was starting to potty train, one trip to the store and a little math told me that Pull-Ups are way too expensive. We opted to buy 2 dozen Gerber training pants. As Camille is still quite petite at age 2 (24lbs, tops), we had to special-order the 18 month size. Unfortunately, I cannot remember who I bought them from. It is necessary to wear a cover with these. We just used the old-school vinyl Gerber pull-up covers that I bought on clearance at Wal-Mart. These buggers are not the greatest, do not last very long, and definitely should not go in the dryer. I have ordered some WAHM covers that have not arrived yet. I will post later on how these work out.

Other cloth diaper sites. The Sunshine Diapers site is a great resource to go to for anyone just getting into cloth diapers. They have some of the cheapest prices on the web. The only reason I have purchased items elsewhere is because I was looking for something they didn’t offer there. The added bonus for me is that the owner lives in Gainesville so I don’t pay shipping on anything I buy; I just go pick it up.
Another good site that rates various cloth diapers and products is the Diaper Pin (http://www.diaperpin.com/).
I recently discovered a great site to purchase gently-used to not used at all diapers. Diaper Swappers (http://www.diaperswappers.com/) is a great co-op site that allows you to buy, sell, or trade diapers. I decided I wanted to add a few newborn sized diaper covers to our stash for Meghan and actually found some barely-used covers on this site for $4 each (they usually retail at around $12 each). Wow! What a savings! I wish this site had been around when Camille was born. I would have saved a ton of money.