A Guide to Choosing,Using and Cleaning Cloth Diapers
I know this is kinda off topic from my other blogs. But I've been cloth diapering for around five years. I often lend people some of my diapers to try out. So they can decide what kind and if it right for them. If you don't have anyone to borrow from, I think I can help you out.When I started cloth diapering I bought and tried, I think, almost every type there is. I love to try out all sorts of items when I start something new. Whether it be art materials to baby gear. I really should have been a product tester.
Now why did I start cloth diapering? It was not for the noble reason to save the earth. It was not for practical economic reasons such as saving money. My oldest Ben has very sensitive skin. Diapers would break him out , especially any cheap o brand.Now I did save money and I did help with the land fills along the way, so that was a bonus.
Now onto the practical part. What type of diapers are there and how many do I need? Which ones will not intimidate my husband and sitters? How do I store the "used" ones when we are not at home? Do I have to "wet" pail? How do I wash them?
There are many questions but the answers are not as bad as you think. Cloth diapering can be daunting. Considering the ease of disposable. Once you decide you want to cloth diaper (even if it part time just at home for instance), there is a small learning curve, and then it is easy.
Okay on to the Show. How many do you need? If you are lucky enough to have or want to use a diaper cleaning service this one will be answered for you. You tell the service when you want them picked up and deliver your diapers and the age of your infant. Magically, the old ones are taken away in the night,(I'm not sure about this but in my fantasy they are). Poof! There is a bundle of new ones. JOY!
But if you are taking care of everything yourself. Deciding the amount, depends on how often you want to do laundry and the age of your baby. Newborns will go through at least 10-12 diaper changes. Now double that for cloth diapers and then add on 10 per day that you want to wait to do laundry. Cloth does not hold a "bucket" load of pee like disposables, so you will change more often. Now as your baby gets bigger this number will go down significantly. For a older infant (3 mos+) you will at least do 8 changes a day plus over night. So double that.
There are many websites that sell cloth diapers. Sometimes you can find pakages of the same diapers, so you can buy a bundle at a time. Some have sample packages that have a variety different diapers if you want to try out different styles.
If you a really ambitious and can sew you can get patterns to make your own. They go from newborn to potty training pants.I will post a few that I have later. I got ambitious, then life took over.
The first diaper I'm showing you is a pocket diaper. These are most like the disposables. Husbands, sitters and grandparents really like these. These diapers come with,usually,a flannel or fleece lining, a "pocket" opening to put the insert in. You can buy extra inserts to increase absorbency of the diaper. On the outside it is "water" proof, so your baby's clothes do not get wet. There is no need to add a cover. They are pretty durable and some of the pockets are able to be washed and put in the dryer (read washing instructions).
A couple of brands are Fuzzi Bums and Bum Genius. They come in many different colors and patterns. They are cute enough to go without pants.The down side is you have to buy a different size as the baby grows. I know that you have to do that with disposables as well but the up front costs is more than disposables. You can expect to pay between $10 to $15 a diaper. In the long run you will save money though because you but them once.
This type of diaper is called an "All in One". That means there is a lining, absorbent pad attached on the inside and then a water proof cover on the outside. Husbands,grandparents and sitters like these as well. You will just throw these in the washer and dryer,then put away. There is no stuffing or anything to keep up with. You can buy extra liners if you need more padding. As you see they have Velcro on the front. These diapers have different patterns and covers. I loved the Dr Seuss ones.
They come in different sizes. If you child is a "super" soaker kid, I don't recommend these. They do not hold a lot of moisture and the leaks are frequent. The price tends to start $10 to $12. You can not beat them for ease of use.
Here are some examples of snap closure diapers. These have the convience of the pockets and all in ones but not quite the cost. There liners often snap into the inside of the diaper. An example is the dark blue diaper at the right is called Cuddle Buns. Some snap closure diapers have the liner sewn into the diaper where you can not see it.( I personally have found I usually needed to add an extra liner. )These diapers need a cover so they will not leak on to the baby's clothes. These come in different sizes usually small to large.You can expect to pay any where from $8 to $12.
Diapers called as you grow diapers, are a one size fits all. You can use them from newborn to toddler just by changing how you snap them closed.An example of this is the light blue diaper to the right. It is by a company called EcoBaby Organics.
Liners and inserts come in all shape and sizes. They can made with sherpa cloth (which soft and very absobant ),cotton and flannel. Some liners have snaps to snap into diapers. There are liners that just lay inside the diaper. To the right is some examples of liners. Liners can start any where from $5 to $10; this depends on size and material they are made out of.
The Snappi diaper,on the right, is an odd little diaper. It has the shape of the snap closure but closes with a Snappi closure ( I will talk more about this later) or safety pins. These diapers need a cover. They have two sizes. New born to 6 mos. Then 6 mos to 24 mos. They start around $5 +. Snappi is not the only company that makes this type of diaper.
Now we are to the most economical of all cloth diapers and probably the most intimidating. The Prefold. Prefolds are diapers that have been sewn till the cloth is the perfect size to make a diaper. Instead of being those huge pieces of cloth that you have to fold down to make a diaper, it has been done for you.Yes, you can sew your own prefolds. Cotton pre folds can start any where from $2+ ,depending on size and quantity. Hemp prefolds can start at $4+, depending on size and quantity. Pre folds are usually sold in bulk. The sizes can start at infant, older baby and toddler. You can go longer without buying size up then with the other diapers.The other nice thing about prefolds after you are done using them for diapering,you can use them around the house as rags.There are plenty of easy folds that you can pick up fairly quickly. I have got a couple of examples that I will show you.
Now I have a suggestion. I am not dissing Gerber. I love Gerber but not their diapers. In a pinch you can find them in Walmart, Kmart etc. Gerber prefolds have cotton batting used in them. Which DOES NOT work. Or you have the choice of buying the HUGE cloth diapers squares which you fold down. Now unless you are really into origami, I highly recommend the pre fold size.
Pre folds are made from 2 types of cloth usually cotton and hemp. Both have their pros and cons. When you first receive your prefolds you will have to wash them in hot water a couple of times and then dry them in a hot dryer. This causes the prefold to "shrink" and "quilt" up. You want this because the quilting helps with absorbency.
Cotton is the most economical but they can be bulky. Hemp is a little more expensive but is absorbent without being bulky. It is also anti bacterial. Which is great from preventing and treating diaper rash. Yeah!
Now how do you keep the pre fold diaper on? You can use a traditional diaper pin. They are still made. I did not use them becuase I was afraid I would stick my wiggle worm. I used a Snappi.
The Snappi is made out of rubber, so you can stretch it across the pelvis to connect the diaper ends . Then you stech it downward to secure the front. The Snappi is secured by these like "teeth", that hooks onto the diaper. (sorry the pictures are little blurry)
Now be warned, if you have a little boy and when your husband sees this, he will freak out. My husband was afraid that the Snappi would come off and get Ben. It really won't. I will not say never but nothing every happened to Ben.It is very secure.
The Snappi is around $10. They are very durable and you do not need very many.
If you pick a cloth diaper that is not a pocket diaper or an all in one, you will need a cover to keep the wet off your baby's clothes. How many do you need? You will not need as many. You want a least 3 starting out, then add as needed. You will need different sizes as your baby grows. Covers are $10+, depending on type and size. Now like cloth diapers, there is a wide variety of covers.Some pull on and some snap or Velcro on.
If you want to use prefolds but are nervous about the pins and Snappi, you can use a pocket cover. There is a "pocket" inside the cover. You fold the diaper and put the prefold in with one end in the pocket. Then place baby in diaper cover and close. No pins or Snappi.
There is a traditional looking cover that looks like a little pant. The Whisper pant, example to the right, is made out of PLU. Which is a light weight water proof fabric. It does not get hot and is very durable.I liked these because you can put them over a prefold or a snap diaper easily.
For night time, many parents like a wool or fleece cover.Fleece covers are soft and fairly absorbent. Lovely Bums makes an uber soft wool cover that is great! Now wool is very absorbent and water proof. They are not hot,even in the summer. They come in different weights that you can purchase. Wool is durable but you have to be very careful how you wash and dry it.
Okay Here is a couple of folds for prefolds. There are tons of folds that you find on the Internet.These two are fairly simple to do and will get you started.
This first fold is super easy and really good for boys because the bulk of the diaper is in front.It is called a twist fold.
Step one lay prefold out flat long ways. Place baby near the top edge. You want the fabric to be about waist high at the back of the baby.
Cross the fabric in front (twist it).
Bring the diaper up toward your baby.
Fold the top of the diaper downward about half way.
Bring and stretch one back edge toward the front. Hold the edge. Then bring other side to front.
I am going to use a Snappi to close. If you are using diaper pins,just simply pin it together.
- At the edge that you are holding hook the Snappi on the edge of the back fabric.
- The pull (stretch) the Snappi across and hook the other edge from the back.
- The pull (stretch) the middle hook of the Snappi downward and hook again. The Snappi should look tight.
And then put a cover on.
This next fold I'm going to show you is a news paper fold. It is good for either boys are girls.
Spread out prefold.
Bring, on side, edges together. Kinda looks like a box.
Fold top part of folded edge down toward inside of diaper.
When you place the baby in the diaper you wanna make sure the wide end is where the bottom goes. The edges that fold in make like a shoot for everything to go downward. Yes, a poop shoot.
Pull the folded side up toward baby. The edge should still be folded inside.
Bring back edges toward front and secure with pin or Snappi.
Now you have decided which diapers to use,which closures to use and which covers to use. Where do you put the dirty diapers? What do you do with them when you are not at home?And how do you keep your house from not smelling like a big diaper?!
For when you are out you can purchase small bags that are waterproof on the inside. I suggest a zipper closure like the picture on the top right. What is great about these bags they are good for wet clothes or bathing suits,so they last long after diapering. The second picture is of a large bag that would be good for keeping dirty diapers at home. You could use this as a stand alone or a liner.
If you want to use a diaper pail. You need to purchase one that you can just drop them into. You don't want like a diaper genie. To keep it smelling fresh, there are these little diaper pail disks that you can stick into the diaper pail. The work pretty well,are fairly cheap,easy to find online. Or you can use my friend baking soda. I did not "wet" pail my diapers. Some older generations may tell you about wet paling, where you keep water in a pail and put your diapers in it. For me, with two boys, this sounded like a recipe for disaster. So I did "dry" paling. There is no water and when I put a diaper in, I put in some baking soda. Not only is it cheap and keeps order away, you can just dump into the washer when you plan to do laundry.
How do wash cloth diapers?
Okay if you do not have a service, this is what you do. Most people do diaper laundry on a average every 3 days. You can do it everyday if you want especially if you have a limited number of diapers. You can wait longer if you want.
First soak diapers in cold water for 30 minutes.Some people use baking soda in this process.This to help stains not set in. A word to the wise, diapers are going to stain.This process helps but do not expect your diapers to be pristine.
Next after draining out the cold water, You wash them in hot water.Some people only use baking soda. Some people us a detergent that is made for baby clothes or that is dye free etc.There is this detergent call Scent Away, that hunters use to remove any scent from their clothes. It works awesome on dirty diapers. You usually find it around hunting supplies but they do have a web site where you can find it in bulk. That is the best way to go.
Then you rinse the diapers 2 times in cold. On the first rinse, I often put in a cup of white vinegar to wash out any lingering smell. On the second rinse, the vinegar smell is rinsed out. Do not worry if the vinegar does not completely come out. After a while you do not smell it any more.
For covers, you will need to follow the manufactures instruction. Wool covers,usually need a special detergent. Also you will need to make sure it is all done in cold water. To water proof wool covers, you need lanolin. If you are breast feeding you know you can use the lanolin that you use on your breasts. If you are not, go the breast feeding section and pick up a tube for around $3.
To remove diaper stains,since you cannot use bleach because it will break down fibers, is to use old mother nature. Hang your diapers in the sun and let it bleach them for you.
So now, are you feeling overwhelmed? Do not worry you will find out what works best for you. Whether you want to cloth diaper all the time or part of the time, it does not matter. As long as momma is happy, everybody will be happy!
I hope this helps and happy diapering!
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