Sunday, February 23, 2014

adventures in cloth diapering


Now that we're nearly 8 months into cloth diapering, I thought I'd take a moment to share some tips for those considering or just getting started with cloth.  So much of cloth diapering is figuring out the system that works for you.  This is what works for us, right now.

We knew long before we had Caleb that we'd be cloth diapering, however we weren't exactly sure what that would look like.  After researching the various types of diapers available, I knew 4 things:

1. I wanted as little upfront investment as possible - new cloth diapers can get extremely expensive, often people buy new diapers planning to cloth diaper then change their minds, because of this you can find loads of used ones online through facebook groups, cloth diapering forums, ebay, and craigslist.

2. I wanted neutral colors - obviously we plan to use these diapers for a long time.

3. I wanted ease of use - cloth diapering can be overwhelming in and of itself, I didn't want family and friends to be so lost that they couldn't lend a helping hand if offered.

4. I wanted "one-size" - some cloth diapers are sized S, M, L, based on the weight of your little one.

Because of the number of cloth diaper options out there, many people suggest that you only invest in one or two of a particular style of diaper and try out a few styles, you never know which style is going to work for you/your baby.

While pregnant, I began collecting a few different types of diapers.  I found these Flip Diaper Covers on clearance for only $7, and snagged 6.  While wondering garage sales in the spring I came across two more FLIP diaper covers and two gDiapers covers.  We received two CuteyBaby diapers and 2 Bummis Super Brite diaper covers as a baby shower gift and used a gift card to purchase 2 bumGenius 4.0's.

Near the end of my pregnancy I had the brilliant idea of making some additional newborn/small diapers to add to our stash.  (I say "brilliant" because they were a lot more work than most 9month+ pregnant women want to tackle!)  In my research, many people had suggested purchasing newborn sized diapers to get through those first few months when baby is so tiny and not yet chunky enough to fill the diapers.  Not knowing how big Caleb would be, and wanting to start cloth as soon as possible, making my own newborn size seemed like a great solution.

I was thrilled when I found this pattern at JoAnn Fabrics, that allowed for multiple sizing options.  My mom and I made a few newborn/small diapers to add to the stash and I began selling the extras in my etsy shop.

So, when we began this journey, our stash included the following:


We began cloth diapering with Caleb once we were past the infamous meconium stage {that stuff is seriously messy and will do awful things to your cloth diapers!}   A friend was gracious enough to give us her gDiaper inserts from when her boys were cloth diapering and we used those with our diaper covers.

Originally, we had opted to use the FLIP diaper system mostly because it made more sense to us to not need to wash the cover between uses (unless soiled), however having a wiggly, heavy wetter who liked to sleep on his belly meant that we had a lot more leakage than expected and ended up washing the covers after every use. {**I recognize that some of our leakage could be from used/hand-me-down inserts that were getting old and threadbare.}

We learned quickly that the BumGenius 4.0's were much better for night time and naps as they were less likely to leak.   And because our boy was big {9 lbs at birth}, and grew quickly, we were only able to use the gDiapers and homemade diapers for a few months.  At 3 months, we packed those away and decided to invest in a few more BumGenius 4.0's.  We bought these second hand from a friend who didn't have much luck with cloth diapering.  She had only used them for a few months, so they were practically new!  We received a Babys R Us gift card as well, so I bought 2 bumGenius Freetime diapers to try.

To date BumGenius Freetime diapers are definitely our favorite!  When I saw an ad for them on Craigslist a few weeks ago, I snagged 6 more second hand to add to our stash.

Here's what our stash looks like today:

{not all pictured}
out of rotation because of size:  2 FLIP diaper covers (these were purchased second-hand and the elastic needs replaced), 2 gDiaper size small covers, 2 CuteyBaby size medium diapers, 2 Bummis size small diaper covers, 5 Homemade Newborn/Small diaper covers

With this large of a stash we're able to do laundry every other day.  We use a large trash can with a liner for soiled diapers.  When it's time to do laundry, we wash the diapers (including liner) on a cold rinse cycle followed by a hot wash cycle.  We've tried a number of different laundry soaps, but have found that a single scoop of our DIY laundry soap works just fine.  Line drying your diapers can prolong their life, so we dry them on a drying rack most days.  When we're in a hurry or I forget to switch laundry (hazards of laundry being in the basement!) we use the dryer.  However, the best way to dry your diapers is in the sun.  The heat and UV help to not only dry the fabric but bleach out any yucky stains.  Oh, how I long for summer sun!


When changing diapers at home, we use homemade cloth wipes with a simple solution of water and tea tree oil.  We have yet to see much diaper rash but when we do we use California Baby diaper cream as it's cloth diaper safe.  However, even with this diaper cream, I keep diapers and wipes separate and strip them before using again to avoid build up. Learn more about stripping diapers here.

We try to use cloth when out and about - though store a few disposables in the diaper bag and car, just in case!  We put soiled diapers in our wet bag and transfer to the diaper pail when we get home.  We use disposable wipes while out.

{first cloth diaper at just 10 days old}
So, you're still interested in cloth?!  Here's some advice that we'd love to pass along:

Just do it!  Seriously, what are you waiting for?  Get a few diapers, and go for it.  You don't need to have an entire stash of cloth before you try it out.  Using a combination of cloth and disposable can help you transition and figure out your own system.   The great thing about cloth, you can start (and stop if need be) at any time, any age!

Don't be afraid to buy second hand.  I was super cautious about this in the beginning as I was unsure about bacteria and what not.  As long as you feel comfortable with it, I suggest buying second hand.  Many people jump into cloth diapering head first, only to find that it doesn't fit with their lifestyle.  Because of this, there are tons of gently-used (if used at all) diapers for sale on ebay, craigslist, and in facebook groups.  There are also loads of resources online for stripping and deep cleaning those diapers.  I stripped our second hand diapers when I bought them and haven't had any issues.

Stick with one-size and neutral colors.  Cloth diapers are an investment, if you're going to spend the money, you might as well get the most out of it.  These diapers should last us for numerous kiddos and through potty-training.  I was super frustrated when I had to store away perfectly good diapers, just because Caleb out-grew them.  Sticking to neutral colors and one-size diapers means you'll get the most wear out of them no matter the gender or size of your baby.

Buy over time.  Unless you're sure you want to put up the money to buy a large number of diapers in the beginning, I suggest starting small.  I'm thankful we started with a few different styles of diapers vs. an entire stash of one style.  For some this works out beautifully.  For many, like we discovered, this is not the case.  The style/brand you expect to love and use may not work best for your baby or lifestyle.  Buying diapers over time allows you to try out cloth diapering in general before making a big investment and deciding it's not for you.

Stick with snaps.  Most of our Flip diaper covers are velcro, and though they are still in decent shape, the hook side of the velcro attracts lint and hair, making it a pain to clean and stick.  Also, you must remember to stick the hook side of the velcro to the laundry tabs or you'll end up with a jumbled mess in the wash.  Now that Caleb is getting bigger and is more mobile, the velcro doesn't seem to stay stuck.  His crawling causes the tabs to come loose and sometimes I take off his pajamas to find that they aren't attached at all!

So there you have it!  Lot's of ideas and info in this post, but please feel free to email me or comment below with questions or comments.  We have loved our cloth diapering experience and hope to help others considering it in any way we can!


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