Saturday, May 16, 2009

All About Cloth :: Part One

I have been asked several times to share my knowledge of cloth diapers and why I even do it, with my blogging friends.

When my sister-in-law had 3 in diapers (twins and one 20 months younger) I had my first exposure, as an adult, to cloth. She had 5 children under the age of 6 and being the resourceful woman she was, she used cloth. I thought it was really cool, but not for me. Fast forward 4 years to when I had Emma. I had a large stash of Pampers and they worked great. I'd talked to her about cloth, but wasn't convinced. After all, she had a 2 year old that she only did cloth occasionally with, so why would I want to do it?

I met Landra in our Bradley Method Childbirth classes. She lived around the corner from me and would often walk over to say hello. I thought this woman was amazing. She rode her bike throughout most of her pregnancy. And not just on flat surfaces, she rode up to the campus of KU, anyone who knows that campus knows there are some major hills there! One week before Emma was born, Landra came over with sweet Elsa in her sling. I oohed and ahhed over this sweet new baby and we talked about her birth. She told me she was doing cloth diapers and I told her that was great, but just not for me.

That was on Thursday...Emma was born on Sunday. For the first two months, I bought diapers every week. I didn't like the perfumey smell (little tidbit about me, I don't like perfume or smelly stuff), but what else could I do? It was better than the smell of dirty cloth diapers, right???

When Emma was about 2 months old, I started talking to people about cloth. I went to Landra's house. It didn't stink like diapers. I went into Elsa's room where the diaper pail was (a big industrial trash can), again, it didn't stink. I asked and she showed me several different types of diapers and covers she was using. I started to think...maybe....just maybe....

The next step was to talk to my sister-in-law. She got out her diapers and showed me them. She talked to me about washing diapers, my different options and why she loved them. In the course of this talking, she decided to start using cloth again on her 2 1/2 year old.

I talked to Jeremy. He was the hardest sell. He was in his senior year of undergrad at KU and we had less than no money. We were living on Pell Grants and scholarships, oh and his very megar income from his job at the campus library. So, he said that we could do cloth on the following conditions -- 1. He would never wash the diapers, so don't even ask and 2. it had to cost equal or less than disposables would until he graduates -- in 3 months.

With $50 and a lot of determination, I set out to find the best deals and start cloth diapering. I was a woman on a mission and I was excited!

Over the last 6 years, I have tried MANY different kinds of diapers, from the cheapest to the most expensive. I will give you an overview of my favorites and what has worked for us.

When I started I had $50...not a lot. So, I went with 3 dozen prefolds, 6 covers, 1 snappi and 2 sets of pins. The company where I got my diapers from is no longer (still makes me sad, they had the best covers!), but I got all of that for $50. I had 5 nylon covers and 1 wool cover.

The day my diapers came I was so excited. I threw them in the wash with a tablespoon of detergent and washed them exactly like I was instructed. I washed them again and again and put them in the dryer. I was THRILLED with how soft and fluffy they were. I put one on my sweet Emma's bum and the angels sang. Ok, not really, but we were all pretty excited. I never pinned her, and we really liked them.

It didn't take long until I found that there were TONS of diapers and covers on Ebay. So, I got a few fleece covers and was good. I even dyed my nylon covers with food coloring and vinegar. She had a cute bum for sure.

I was a convert, there was no going back. In the last 6 years I have used disposables on occasion -- if my baby has a really bad rash (anytime there is a rash that isn't going away switch whatever you are doing -- if you use cloth switch to 'sposies for a bit and vice versa), if we are travelling and I don't want to tote them, and right now at night for Amelia.

Now that you know how I got into it, what about all the different kinds of diapers out there? I can't tell you about ALL of them, because I only have experience with some. But, I can give you the information I have and point you in directions to find more info to help you find what is best for your family.

Prefolds -- I love these. I use prefolds on my kids, always have, always will. They are great, great, great.
Pros: They last a long time (I'm still using some from when Emma was a baby) and when they wear out, they make great rags. You can make them fit any size baby and they truly are the most versatile. If you don't have a lot of money, this is a great way to get started.
Cons: They don't hold in the poop, so it's going to get on the cover. If you don't mind giving your nylon covers a quick rinse, then you should be ok with these. You need a snappi or pins with prefolds.

Fitted Diapers -- I have a lot of fitted dipes. When I was pregnant with Amelia, one of my friends got me 13 Kissaluvs. I fell in LOVE with these.
Pros: These are my favorite when they are little ones. I love that they keep the poops in. We all knows babies can have very explosive poops, and these contain the most expolsive ones I've seen! They are relatively trim and fit for a long time. Libby is still in the size 1's.
Cons:The only problem I've found with these is that after 2 kids, the elastic is pretty worn out and they are not as fitted around the waist as they once were. I find that the size 0 diapers are lasting a lot longer because they don't get used nearly as much. They don't keep their resale value, so if that is something you are worried about, and you intend on having multiple children use these diapers, take that into consideration.

We also use the MotherEase One Size fitted diapers. I like these a lot. They seem to hold up a bit better than the Kissaluvs in the elastic area. I like that you can get the snap in stay dry liner also. These are the ones we use the most next to prefolds in my house. I find that the cons are about the same with these as with the Kissaluvs. I have a few used ones that are really threadbare, but I find when paired with a liner, it gives them a new life. They're great.

Pocket Diapers -- I have used two different brands of pocket diapers - Happy Heiney's and FuzziBunz. I liked them both. They have fleece on the inside and a pocket to stick a prefold or a doubler into for absorbancy.
Pros: These are great for babysitters or someone who is maybe not very familiar with cloth diapers. You can have them stuffed and ready to go. They are very easy to use and now come in One Size! This wasn't an option when I bought them, I would love to try these new pocket dipes! Both companies are great to work with. One of my Fuzzi Bunz had a broken snap and the company replaced it, no questions asked. I love them! The fleece keeps the little bum dry and is great for babies that might have a bit more problems with rashes. These diapers keep their resale value really well also. I sold all of my FuzziBunz and got most of my money back.***
Cons: You have to wash the outer and the inner seperately. Well, you don't HAVE to, but if you want your fleece to stay nice and soft, you really should. This isn't a huge con, but if you have limited time for diaper washing, this might be a bit of a deterrant. These are a little more pricey than prefolds, but you have to remember that you have your cover and diaper in there. Also, remember the resale value.

***you might be wondering if I love them so much why did I sell them? Well, I needed something that would fit more than one child in diapers -- like prefolds or MotherEase One Size, so I had to sell my FB's to get money to buy the other diapers I needed. If they had the one size FB's when I was using them, there is no way I would have sold them. I love Fuzzi Bunz!

All In Ones -- the name says it all. This is a diaper, doubler, and cover in one. I don't have any of these and I really don't have much experience with them. From what I've read you either love them or you hate them :) So, my pros and cons are not from my own experience, but from that of others. Please chime in if you have first hand experience with these.
Pros: It's all in one!!! These are trim and ready to go! Very easy for night time diaper changes, and for those who aren't very familiar with cloth diapers.
Cons: They take a long time to dry. The PUL (cover part) wears out quickly from repeated washings and dryings.

Now, a little about washing. I was afraid of washing them to be honest. I had heard that you didn't need a lot of detergent and if you used too much your diapers would stink. But, then don't you want to get all the urine and poop out? How can I do that with just a tablespoon of detergent??? I was confused. I read, I read some more and then I came up with my own washing system. This has changed a bit in the last 6 years, but it is basically the same. Here is what I do --
1. Throw all the diapers and covers in (not wool covers -- I'll do a separate post about covers in a couple of days) and do a cold cycle with a couple squirts of BioKleen Bac Out.
2. Hot Cycle with one scoop of detergent. Do not use anything with smells in it or softeners.
3. One more hot cycle. At this point you could add some vinegar to your wash. I used to but then stopped. Here is a great article talking about the pros and cons of vinegar.
4. Into the dryer they go -- oh, and I take the covers out after the first hot cycle. It is also really important to not use any type of fabric softener or dryer sheets. This will cause a film to build up on your diapers and that will reduce the absorbancy.

Not too hard. I wash diapers twice a week and this I can handle. Oh, and now that the weather is nice, I love hanging them out on the line to dry. This is also a great way to get the poop stains out!

Stay tuned for All About Cloth Part Deux coming later in the week!!!


Kalli Ko said...

I think with my next I may attempt the cloth. I've heard a lot of goodness about bumgenius brand and have several friends who swear by them.

However, I did not have the $300 upfront to invest in the amount I would need to cover my baby soooo...

prefolds scare me. the poop, I can't handle it.

TopHat said...

Occasionally we get poop on covers- but if you fold the prefolds just right you can avoid it (depending on how much poop there is).

I think the concept is a little overwhelming to people in our disposable society (not just diapers, but everything else, too), but it's not that hard. I love cloth diapering- it makes me feel thrifty and green.

Jen said...

My baby is now 9. She's been out of diapers for 7 years now - but we did cloth, too. I tired the motherease but call me lazy, I hated the time it took to snap all those buttons!! My favorite of all time became the chinese prefolds, using the "twist" fold with a snappi in a cotton or wool cover. Washing wasn't a big deal. I think people have those visions of poopy diapers soaking in the toilet. I never did that. I had a friend whose husband rigged up the water source next to the toilet and attached one of those sprayers you use in your kitchen sink. That was pretty cool.

Kim said...

Kalli - Jen reminded me of something. A diaper shower. You can get stuff from the hardware store and hook something up to your toilet, or buy one. I love mine. When my babies start eating solids and their poops are, well a little more solid, I start using it. Keep your diaper pail near it and you can spray off the poo and into the pail it goes. I don't like poop, not at all, and I still do this ;)

Anonymous said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review:

Tiffany said...

Wow thanks for all the info-

So a few questions: How many would you say to start out with? My babe is 11 months old so we'll be in diapers for quite a while still.

Also, I loved reading your pros and cons, but I just need someone to tell me what to get right now so I can order them. If you were me, what would you do? Have you ever made them?

Ok thanks.. I'm excited!

P.S. I met you at Ryan's Park a few weeks ago. You gave me your number and blog-My son was so excited that your son loved Star Wars. Too bad his little brother peed his pants so we had to go-I'm sure the two of them would have battled it out just great.

sara said...

I JUST saw the new one size fuzzibuns! CUTE prints. I need some. I did cloth with Olivia, and then partially with Liam and almost not at all with Elliot. I am determined this time!

Kalli Ko said...


with all in ones I'm assuming you use a new diaper at each changing, not just a new liner. Am I right in this?

I want to echo Tiffany's question. How many do you need to start out with?

Jad said...

My wife always prefer to buy organic Cloth Diaper Covers