Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cloth Diapering Journey for a New Mom

The journey into cloth diapering started before I even became pregnant. Last year when my sister found out she was expecting, she and I had a conversation in the early stages of her pregnancy in which she told me with a derisive laugh that she would never ever use cloth diapers. Fast forward one month and she sheepishly brings up the topic of cloth diapers again and says that now she's convinced that she's going to use them. She had a few moms at work bring in their cloth diapers and show them to her. All it took was that one conversation to convince her of the benefits. Well, let's just say, I wasn't sold on the idea yet, but it didn't really matter because I wasn't even pregnant yet.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I didn't really think about diapers until I was at my sister's baby shower and my mom asked me what I was going to do about diapering. Now, mind you, I was only 11 weeks pregnant at this point and hadn't really considered the topic much; I was just getting used to being pregnant. Did I really have to start planning for baby's arrival already? If you're newly pregnant and reading this, then yes, start considering these kinds of questions because 40 weeks (38 in my case) goes quickly when you're still working, attending showers, writing thank you cards, preparing a nursery and squeezing in trips to see friends and family before baby comes.

My first reaction to my mom's question was along the lines of I'd be open to the idea of cloth diapers, but they really seem like more work than they are worth. I mean, all of that laundry! Ugh! And isn't it kind of gross? Are they really better for baby?

After doing a lot of research on Pinstripes and Polkadots, I became a believer. Everyone has their own reason for getting into the cloth diapering world. For some it's a cost factor. For other's it's environmental. For me, it was two-fold. First of all, babies who wear cloth diapers are far far less likely to develop diaper rash. Secondly, the biggest reason for me, babies wear cloth diapers potty train on average by 18 months versus 3 years old in disposables. What?!? That's twice the age. Think about that. It's far less diaper changing for me overall, and talk about cost savings. It's not just a monthly savings using cloth diapers, it's cutting out 18 months of diaper buying on average. Clearly these are just averages, but I'm willing to play the odds on this one.

Even though I was convinced to use cloth diapers, I was overwhelmed by all of the options. It just seemed that there were too many options out there for me to grasp: prefolds, all in ones, all in twos, pocket diapers, even a diaper service where you receive your diapers like people use to receive milk at the doorstep. Fortunately, I have a dear friend who cloth diapered her four children and she gave me a great start. I did some research to figure out all of the different cloth diaper types. I'll list a few that I've now used, and a little bit about it so you can learn too. If you want to know more, there are tons of great resources online. There are even great resources on Youtube that helped me out a lot.

Below you'll find the three systems that I am currently using to varying degrees listed from my favorite to my least favorite. I suggest having a few different systems to decide what you like best. It may be different than my preferences. Also, I do find I like have a few of each for different times of the day based on the activity we are doing. If you are interested in trying out cloth diapers, but you don't want to fully commit before trying them, buy some from They have a 15 day try, wash, love or return policy. So you can try them for up to two weeks to see if they will work for you.

Types of cloth diapers:
Profold with a cover:
Prefold                                                              Cover

I have come to love this combo. It is by far the cheapest cloth diapering system out there. I use the newspaper fold with a Snappi, and I've never had a leak out of the cover yet. With each diaper change, you only change the prefold and just wipe the cover off to reuse unless it is poopy or it's been through 3 or 4 wet diapers. I like the better fit or smart fit prefold because it is shorter and doesn't need to be folded down even further. It just fits the diaper cover correctly. The only drawbacks of this style of diaper is it's somewhat bulky and it is two steps when putting the diaper on. 

All in one (AIO)

This is just what it sounds like. It's a cloth diaper that is all in one piece so this goes on just like a disposable. It's very convenient and easy to use. The biggest benefits are it's ease of use and similarity to disposables. However, it has some drawbacks. It is as expensive for one of these diapers as it is for 6-12 prefolds. It takes longer to dry. And the biggest thing for me is that it doesn't always contain the messes. The Imagine all in one is the only one of this style that I haven't had a blowout or wet leak yet. They are also the cheapest all in one that I've found, so yeah for that!

Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are similar to all in one diapers except they have a pocket that you stuff the absorbent lining into before putting on the baby. I think that these were created to cut down on the amount of drying time required because I can't figure out any other benefit. The Imagine all in one has a liner that is attached on one side and separates on the other side to speed up the drying time so I haven't noticed a difference in drying time between the two. These have the same downfall as all in ones because they are almost or just as expensive as the all in ones, and all of them have leaked for me. They also have the added downfall of having a pocket that you have to stuff before you put it on the baby. 

Since I'm creating dirty diapers to wash, I also use cloth wipes. You can just cut up pieces of flannel or old washcloths. I received some flannel wipes as shower gifts. I also use my own wipe solution that I store in a spray bottle and just get the wipe a little wet from that. I use the recipes from Zany-Zebra

You also need something to store the dirty diapers in before washing them. I have two bags that I alternate and wash with the diapers. My favorite is the Fuzzibunz hanging diaper pail. 
It's great because you just toss the dirty diaper in there and forget it until it's wash time. It has a zipper opening on the bottom so you never have to touch the dirty diapers. Throw it in with the diapers and it comes out fresh and clean. 

The final piece is washing all of this. This was the part that had me concerned, and I didn't believe the people that said it's really not adding that much to your day. But really, it's not adding that much to your day. I wash them every other day. Any longer than that, and it starts to smell. I do a large load setting and do a warm rinse with no soap. After that, it's a hot-cold cycle with soap on the longest setting for my washer. Then it's into the dryer and finally on the baby. The nice thing is that unless you're using pocket diapers, there is no folding involved. I just throw them in the drawer and done! You do have to be careful with the soap you use though. Check out this chart for help in finding a soap that won't ruin your new diapers.

If you're at all interested, there is a ton of information on the internet that will give you more than you need to know. I'd encourage you to try it for a couple of weeks before giving up on it. It becomes easier with time. Also, never feel guilty for using disposables. You have to do what works for you. I still use disposables at night, on vacation and when we go out for errands because that's what works for me. 

Do you have any tips for me? I'm still a very new mom and would be happy to get any tips on cloth diapers that you have!

*Edited: There were lots of great comments on my Facebook wall after I posted this with some great tips that I hadn't known. I'll transfer some of them here for those of you just stumbling upon this blog post on your own. 
*We loved the Flip system at the covers were great, and we used whatever prefolds I found with them, and then really liked that they have disposable inserts that you can throw when traveling. (snaps better than velcro for longevity)
 *I was given the advice to order "seconds." They are not used, but have slight mistakes in them ( I never could find the mistakes) and were much cheaper than buying new. Here are the seconds on flips.
*I had a terrible time with the pockets after about 4 months using. If I were to do it again I would definitely do prefolds. It's how our moms did it! 
Thanks for the blog. It was a good concise summary.
*Glad you're enjoying cloth! We're up to our eyeballs now 3+ years in. But you may want to forget about the detergent chart... Most manufacturers now emphasize CLEAN over all else (as they should) and many find that good old Ultra Tide outperforms all of the natural detergents by a country mile 
*We used a diaper service for all of our children but that was way back in the day of pins and plastic. Much less diaper rash than my friends dealt with.
*We're using Flip as well. A good friend recommended hemp inserts. There pricier, but they're better for sensitive skin and after some uses they're the most absorbent. The website posted by many frequently clearances out covers that are discontinued colors. I love the snaps. They've fit since he came home.
*We used flips and pockets with my first one. They were on her day and night...the only time we didn't use them was on vacation (except one vacation we used the disposable inserts for flips- I found some cheap ones on Craigslist). I loved them both. I mainly did cloth diapers because I have very sensitive skin and thought my babies would too. The time in diapers really varies- my fist born was in them until she turned 3 (I think it depends on the kids personality etc because we tried to potty train her earlier and it was an epic fail!) unfortunately my second was in them for only a year and had to transition into disposables (makes me a little sad though). She is a pooping machine and I couldn't keep up with changing (before she got a rash) and washing! I am going to try it again for the third though. Thanks for your thoughts - it has given me thoughts on prefolds and another brand!
*Here is another great item that I found last night for those of you still using cloth diapers. I'm sure you know that it makes those onesies tighter because of the bulk. Here you go!

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