Curious About Cloth Diapering?

I was a 22 year-old- newlywed when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, Emery.  I was a full-time college student, didn’t have maternity coverage, my hubby didn’t have a full-time or reliable job, and we were living off of our wedding-gift money.  Needless to say, we didn’t plan on getting pregnant right away and learned our lesson pretty quickly.  We knew that, somehow, everything was going to be OK.  We had 9 months to figure it out!  God had never let us down before and we knew He wasn’t about to start.

As an expecting mom I spent a lot  of time cruising the baby aisles admiring all the precious little baby clothes and toys, baths and gear…I just couldn’t get enough of that aisle.  Of course I ended up in the diapering aisle a few times and thought “they are so expensive!”  As I read more and more about parenting and realized how often I’d be changing diapers (especially in those first months), I noticed that you need a full-time job just to pay for the diapers!  It really is completely insane.  According to the Sacramento Food Bank, it costs an average of $2,015 a year just in disposable diapers…for ONE baby.  Now, not every baby is the same.  Some will use more and some will use less.  The hope is that the older they get, the less often they need to be changed…but there are no guarantees!  I remember thinking, “we cannot afford to use disposables…”

Not long after, Emery was born, I had it in my mind that I was going to use cloth diapers…however, I had gotten disposables for my baby showers and was living off of those for a while.  It was highly convenient…and I just kept buying more once we ran out…but it didn’t take too long for me to realize what I had already found–They’re pricey!  I was desperately wanting to stay at home with our son, so I needed to cut costs anywhere I could.  So, I started researching cloth diapers (with the help of one of my cloth-diapering friends).

 
Classic Flat Diaper
Traditional Diaper Pins

Cloth diapering has come a long way since our parents and grandparents were using them!  I was stunned at all the different kinds of diapers that were available to me.  I went to all kinds of websites to look up the different kinds and prices and weigh all the pros and cons of each type of cloth diaper.  It took a little while to figure out which was best for our family.  We ended up going with the bum Genius All-in-One, One Size cloth diapering system.  They were definitely one of the more pricey options, but they seemed to be the most convenient.  I also purchased some reusable flannel wipes, flushable liners, and some wipe liquid.  For storage of dirty diapers, I use the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail by Munchkin with its refills.  It works great and keeps the stink in the bag.

The one thing my hubby and I were not looking forward was the poo!  No one wants to get their hands all dirty with poo.  I think this is probably the #1 thing that prevents people from using cloth diapers!  To solve this, my husband and I really enjoyed using the flushable liners with our diapers.  You just take one, thinner than paper, liner and place it in your diaper.  The liner catches any solids and makes your diaper a lot easier to clean.  You just take off the little liner and flush it down the toilet.  If you have a septic system, you may want to just toss them instead of flushing them…Just to be safe.  You may be thinking, “What about the really runny newborn, breast milk poo?”  Good news!  The liner will still pick up quite a bit of it.  Whatever it doesn’t pick up is really not a big deal.  Breast milk poo is water soluble.  If you wanted to, you could throw it directly into your washer without ever rinsing it and it really wouldn’t matter.  This doesn’t work when they start eating solids.  The liners cannot guarantee that you will NEVER have to rinse out a diaper or two, but it sure will make those times few and far between.  Also, you get used to it. 🙂

I LOVED our diapers…especially when we first got them.  I want to give some tips, though, to help you to keep loving your cloth diapers, if you choose to go this route.  The biggest thing is to launder them they way they were supposed to be laundered!  Not all cloth diapers are exactly the same, so be sure to follow your manufacturers instructions.  If you cannot find the instructions, for some reason, then try to contact your manufacturer for their recommendations.

First, use a detergent that is made for cloth diapers!  I cannot stress this enough.  If you use your regular Tide or All detergent, you will be SO disappointed.  The soap in these detergents leaves a residue on your diapers and makes them less absorbent…and less clean, really.  Your diapers will become really stinky and will start to leak. (this goes for diaper rash creams as well).  I’ve not been able to find a good detergent in stores, so I would recommend going to a cloth-diapering website and ordering detergent.  After making the mistake of using the wrong detergent, we ordered the bum Genius Detergent.  We figured we couldn’t go wrong using the same brand of detergent as our diapers and it wasn’t any more expensive than buying your typical baby detergent.  Each little box does about 66 loads and comes with a small scoop.  One that I haven’t tried yet, but came highly recommended by a relative is Soap Nuts.  They are incredibly affordable so they’re worth the shot!  Since the detergents for cloth diapers are not sudsy, most of them are compatible with your High Efficiency washer.  Also, if you have a High Efficiency washer/dryer, then you’ll want to turn your spin-speed down.  I’ve found, with the all-in-one diapers, that the high spin speed really tears your diapers apart.  (If you’ve ever noticed little holes in your t-shirts or under garments, it may be due to your high spin-speed).  I don’t know about the others, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You’ll also want to skip out on any fabric softeners or additives.  You don’t want anything with fragrances.  This does the same thing as the diaper rash creams and leaves a film over your cloth diapers.  They will become stinky…very stinky.

Finally, hang dry them (outside if possible) whenever you can.  The sun naturally bleaches and cleans your diapers outside–and helps them to keep smelling clean and fresh.  If it’s a really hot, dry day then it might not take too much time to dry them.  Drying them in a dryer can also reduce the absorbency of the diapers…So again, whenever possible, hang dry them.  Keep in mind that some of these diapers, especially all-in-ones, have long dry times…and when they say long, they mean LONG!   I’ve found that it can take DAYS to dry my diapers if they’re inside.  It takes all day long to dry them outside on a warm day.  So plan your laundry days accordingly.  Maybe use 1/2 of the diapers, wash them and dry them, and use the other half for a few days while the others dry.

You may be wondering how many cloth diapers you should invest in.  Well, each type of diaper is a little different, but overall, it is recommended to have 18-24 available to you in each size.  If you go with the one-size diapers, then you’ll just need the 18-24 in that one diaper.  The more you buy, the less often you’ll have to launder, but the more money you’ll have to invest.  So, you’ll have to weigh what is most important to you and your family.  We purchased 24 diapers and that seemed to work well for us.

What about traveling?  We still use disposables when we’re traveling, taking day-trips, or going to the nursery at church.  This is optional.  You can do whatever makes you comfortable.  You can purchase “wet bags” to store your dirty diapers when you’re out and about.  If you’re going to visit family or friends out of town for a while, do be sure to check with them about using their washer for your diapers.  If they’re not too thrilled with the idea, then just buy some disposables for the time that you’re in their house.

What would I do differently if I was to do this all over again?  Well, I really under-estimated how long it would take for my diapers to dry.  Even though the all-in-ones are incredibly convenient, the dry time can be a little bit taxing as you’re trying to figure everything out.  After researching lots of types of diapers, I’ve found the Best Bottom Diapers or the bumGenius flip System to be what I would likely choose if I were buying new diapers all over again.  I like the idea of a shorter dry time for sure!  Also, if something becomes ripped or needs replacing for any reason, it would be a lot less expensive to do so.  The maker of the Best Bottom offers a complete package deal that contains everything you need for cloth diapering from newborn to potty training at a pretty reasonable price.  They are still a “one-size” diaper shell, with different sized, very affordable, inserts.  The bumGenius flip is a true one-size, so you wouldn’t need as many inserts making this an even more economical option (1/2 the cost of Best Bottom total from birth to potty training)!  The only potential downside would be a bulky diaper for your newborn.

I would also buy the diapers with snaps instead of the Velcro straps (Velcro is no longer available in the diapers I purchased).  The Velcro sticks to other diapers really easily–even when you follow the washing instructions and pulls them all apart.  It doesn’t help with the wear and tear.  I suspect this isn’t just with my brand, but with any brand that is using Velcro.

Cloth diapers can be a little bit of work.  I’ve found the savings to be more than worth it, though.  I recommend researching each type of diaper for yourself.  You can figure out the pros and cons of each diaper and figure out what would work best for your family and your budget.  I, personally, would never go back to using disposable diapers.  The cost is just too high.  Luckily, many of the diapering websites out there have guarantees.  For example, Nicki’s Diapers has a 15-Day guarantee.  If you don’t love your diapers, then they will take them back.  They also sell samplers and packages so you can try different brands and figure out which one you like best before investing in any one kind.

Please feel free to send me any questions you might have, although I admit I don’t have all the answers.  I will do my best, though, to get some answers!  I recently ordered some of each of the diapers I mentioned earlier to replace some diapers that were worn out and to prepare for our 2nd little diaper user due in June.  I plan to add information about my findings between the two brands.

Happy Diapering!

Helpful Websites:

Helpful Hint:
Different websites have different prices.  Shop around and find the best price!

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