Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Cloth Diapers - Revised

My cloth diaper stash has evolved quite a bit since I last posted about it. So I think we are due for an update!

First, let's go over the basics in case there are some newbies out there.

Cloth diapers ain't what they used to be. There are quite a variety out there on the market today, and cloth diapering is gaining popularity. Just google it and you will find all kinds of stores and resources online. The best place to start, in my opinion, if you are serious about cloth diapering is (DS). There are forums there where you can ask questions, and also buy used diapers from other mamas to try out. I got many of my diapers through DS.

I also have bought from EcoBaby Canada, Babes in Arms, kijiji and even garage sales!

Most people say to have 18-24 diapers minimum in your stash. But really, it's up to you, and how often you want to do laundry. I survived a few months with just 14 diapers, and I know a couple people who get by with 10 (and wash them every day).

Cloth diapering can save you a lot of money, or be really expensive. It depends what route you go. You can outfit your baby for about $300, or even cheaper if you buy used, or I've heard of moms who spend over $8000! It costs about $1000 I think to diaper a baby for 2 years with disposables.

There are several different types of diapers to choose from. Here are the basics:

1. Flats. These ARE your Grandma's diapers. They are just plain, flat pieces of fabric. Old school. You put your baby on them, fold them up and pin them, and cover with rubber pants (or some kind of cover). These are the cheapest type of diapers, they last well and are easy to clean. This is the only kind of diaper I have not played with, but here is a link to a blog post, with videos, on how they work:

2. Prefolds. Similar to flats, but with several layers of material sewn together, thicker in the middle, for better absorbency. They are cheap, or easy to make yourself, last long, and are easy to wash and dry. They are not water-proof, so they also require a cover. You can get newborn size, regular, or large.

They are fairly easy to assemble. I fold them in 3, along the sewn lines, then open up the back, put baby's butt over the open part and bring the folded part of the diaper up through baby's legs to baby's tummy, and bring the corners of the open part around baby's sides, and pin or Snappi them to the diaper on baby's front.

3. Fitteds. These look a little more like a "typical" diaper we think of these days. They are sewn to fit your baby, and often will have doublers (extra pieces of absorbent material) that are sometimes attached, sometimes not. They are not water-proof, so require a cover. There are quite the variety of fitteds out there, some cheap, some expensive, some are super-absorbent, some not. Some are adjustable so they will fit your baby from birth to potty training, and others will only fit a certain size so you will have to buy more as your baby grows. They are easy to wash, some are easy to dry, and others may take a while.

4. Covers. Flats, Prefolds and Fitteds require covers. You can also use some covers as, or over top of disposable, swim diapers. There are quite a variety of these too. The typical ones are made of PUL (Polyurethane Laminate). They are thin and waterproof, and fairly cheap. You don't have to wash them after every use, only when soiled, so you only need a handful. They are easy to wash and quick to dry, can be machine dried, but best hung.

You can also use wool or fleece covers. These are not water proof, but they will just get damp instead of soaked (unless you are totally negligent or have an extremely heavy wetter with only a thin diaper). They are breathable, so good for baby's skin. They are fairly expensive to buy, or you can sew them yourself by recycling a 100% wool (or fleece) sweater, or knitting with wool yarn. You can get/make simple covers or wraps, or pants (longies), shorts (shorties), or even skirts (skirties)! Personally I think the wool and fleece covers are super cute. Fleece you can wash and dry in the machines, but you need to wash wool by hand with a special lanolin soap (I use LANAcare). They only need to be washed when soiled though. If they are damp you can just leave them to dry, then re-use them. Wool covers can be really bulky, so sometimes clothes won't fit over top. Which is fine, when there are things like BabyLegs! I have 7 pairs (but no photo, I didn't think of it until now), and they fit all 3 kids. Judith loves to wear them under her pants when it's cold!

(My personal favourite is a Goodmama/Longies combo)

5. Pockets. These are very popular, because they are so simple to use, just like a disposable. They are Daddy-friendly! They are easy to wash and dry. But they are expensive. The outside is like a cover, made of PUL, but there is a lining on the inside, with an opening on one end so you can "stuff" the diaper with an absorbent insert. A lot of pocket diapers are sold with a microfiber insert included. The nice thing about these is, if your child is a heavy wetter, you can add more inserts (even a cut up towel or like my friend uses, a Sham-Wow cloth), or you can buy separate doublers. Hemp is a popular material for doublers due to the great absorbency. You do have to "stuff" them before using, but I don't really find it all that much more work. You can wash them with the inserts still inside, but I don't recommend it. I simply shake out the wet or soiled insert(s) into the diaper pail when I change the baby, then the pail is ready to just dump into the washer. There are many good brands of pocket diapers out there, the most popular being BumGenius and Fuzzi Bunz. I like the BumGenius the best because they are one-size (OS), so they fit from newborn to potty training. Although I've had mine for almost 2 years and the aplix (velcro) is starting to wear out, which is a bummer. I may get them converted to snaps, so they will last through future children. I also like the Fuzzi Bunz because of the snaps (harder for baby to get off) and there is lots of room to super-stuff them for overnights. I also have a soft spot in my heart for all things minky (like, plush soft and furry). The photos below are of a Preston's Pants pocket diaper.

5. All-in-Ones (AIO). These are basically as close as you get to disposable diapers. Very Daddy-and-babysitter-friendly. They are expensive, a little harder to get totally clean, and take forever to dry. No stuffing required, there are absorbent layers sewn in. Some have pockets as well where you can stuff an insert if baby is a heavy wetter and needs the absorbency. The photos below are of a Chunky Monkey AIO diaper.

I also have cloth wipes that were made by a friend using scrap flannel (bed sheets at a thrift store are good for this!), 2 layers serged together. Or you could use old towels cut up, or do a combo of towels, flannel and fleece. You can also buy cloth wipes, or use baby face cloths.

I make my own solution using a drop of natural baby soap, 3-5 drops of tea tree oil, and about 20 drops of calendula tincture in a small spray bottle with water. I keep my wipes dry, then spray them, and baby's bum if it's dirty, just before wiping.

I recommend having a wetbag for outings. I cloth diaper all the time not just at home, and I honestly find it just as easy as disposables. I have a pretty wetbag, but I forgot to take a photo of it! When I'm out I just put the dirty/wet diapers and wipes in the wet bag, then dump the bag into my diaper pail at home. The wetbag can be wiped out by hand (I just use a wipe and the spray!), or thrown in the wash (and hung to dry).

For diaper pails I just have a couple of plastic buckets Dave got from work that were in the trash. You can buy a fancy diaper pail, but you don't need to. Any pail works, as long as it has a lid, and preferably a handle. I rinse mine out after I dump the diapers in the wash and they don't smell too bad. If they do need a more thorough wash, baking soda and vinegar does the trick. Or dish soap. If you want to prevent smells while the diapers are in there, you can put a few drops of tea tree oil on to a cotton ball and tape it to the lid of the pail, and/or sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the pail.

When a baby who is eating solids has a poop, simply knock the poop off into the toilet. I use a piece of toilet paper to help it along. If it's really messy I have to scrape it off with toilet paper, which yeah, is really nasty. But not as nasty as having a garbage bag full of disgusting disposables every week! I really want to get a diaper sprayer, I've heard great things about it, and it would make the poop-removal process so much easier.

You can also get diaper liners. You place a piece of it between baby's bum and the diaper. These are flush-able, so it makes poop-removal easy. Just toss the liner and poop in the toilet. It can also be used to protect the diaper from any bum rash cream (although if your diapers are under warranty, any use of diaper cream will void the warranty). Any rash cream or oil will ruin the diaper's absorbency, making the diaper leak.

I do diaper laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays. First I do a cold/cold cycle with about half of the minimum recommended detergent (I use Nature Clean, you HAVE to have a detergent without fragrances or harsh chemicals, or it can hurt baby's bum and wreck the diapers). Then I do a hot/cold cycle with about a quarter of the minimum recommended detergent. It's important to not use too much detergent, or it will not all rinse out, and that will make your diapers stinky (and possibly irritate baby's skin). Then I do an extra cold rinse at the end. I hang everything that has PUL in it, and the rest goes in the dryer on high.

Every 2 months I do a "strip". I do my usual first wash, but add a bit of baking soda (don't do this if your PUL diapers are still under warranty, it voids it). Then for the hot wash I use a bit of Nature Clean dish detergent (you're supposed to use regular Dawn, but I can't find it!). Then I do a full cold/cold cycle after, with a bit of white vinegar in it (again, don't do this if the diapers are under warranty).

Never ever ever use fabric softener on diapers! Fabric softener is just bad news in general, really.

The best way to get stains out is to lay or hang the diapers out in the sun. It does wonders!


Sooooo... now that that's out of the way...

Here's my current stash!

Newborn (Please excuse all the stains, they will be sunned out when the weather gets nicer!)

Unbleached Newborn Chinese Prefolds (I can't remember how many I have, maybe a dozen, or just over that? Ruthie was wearing one and there were a few in the diaper pail as well as these)
2 Little Beetle Size 1 Fitteds (2nds), 6 Gabby's Newborn/Small Fitteds
2 Annie Marie Padorie Small Fitteds, 2 Kissaluvs Size 0 Fitteds, and Home-Made Wipes (not made by me though)

Small Fleece and Knit Wool Home-Made Covers
Little Beetle Small Wool Cover, 2 Bummis NB/SM PUL wraps, and 4 Newborn Motherease PUL Wraps

Here they are all put away. Awww...

Intermediate (These are what Gideon started out in at 1 month, but he was quite the chunk. I will slowly incorporate these into Ruthie's stash as she outgrows the others)

18 Regular Prefolds (there are also 6 more that I am currently using to double-stuff Gideon's night time diapers), 2 Snappis (I have another one but it was on Ruthie at the time), 6 Kushies Medium PUL Covers
2 Small Jamtots Hemp Prefitteds, 2 Medium Wool Wraps (no tags), Preston's Pants Minky/Minky Medium Pocket, RubyDaisy Medium PUL Cover
2 Sandy's Motherease Small Bamboo Fitteds, Medium Fleece Cover by The Eli Monster, Small Fuzzi Bunz Pocket, Medium Fleece Longies by RubyDaisy
Muttigan 3sr Fitted, PUL Medium Cover/Swim Diaper by The Eli Monster, 3 PUL Medium/Large Swim Diaper Covers (can't remember the brands off-hand)

Blueberry OS (cow) Pocket, Medium Chunky Monkey (giraffe) AIO
2 Medium Wool Knit Longies

Toddler (Gideon's stash)

Home-made wipes, spray bottle of solution, 14 BumGenius OS Pockets, 6 Large Fuzzi Bunz (stuffed with insert AND prefold, our night time solution), 3 Large Chunky Monkey Minky Pockets, 4 OS Goodmamas Fitteds , 2 Medium Little Beetle Wool Longies, 1 Large Kushies PUL Wrap, 1 Large Thirsties PUL Wrap

And, just in case you're curious, the newborn stash came to $81. Intermediate was $248. And toddler was $550. Yikes! A lot of them I got used too. So a grand total of $879. But if I were to buy disposables at $17/2 weeks, my total for Gideon would be $884 by the time he was 2 (he will use them longer than that though). And these will all work for Ruthie too, so that is where I am saving the big $.

I hope you found that informative! Let me know if you have any questions.

I don't know why, but cloth diapering is so fun! Seriously, I can't handle the cuteness.

1 comment:

heather said...

that is an awesome post!! i've fallen off the wagon and been lazy with the cloth lately. but this makes me want to get right back on. thank you. i have always had the stinky diaper problem, and i thought it was because we have to soften our water. (from living in the mountains with super hard water that corrodes pipes otherwise) but using LESS detergent, and then the vinegar, that's something i haven't tried. i'm psyched to have renewed hope.... thanks!and yes, it is so SO cute to see a baby in cloth. and i like that you find it fun. that's what i need to hear! that ammonia smell is just not fun though.