Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cloth Diapers

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I get a lot of questions about cloth diapering, so I thought it would be useful to put together some information about our experience with cloth. We used cloth dipes and wipes exclusively from the time Babygirl was born up until we moved/she was potty learned. I'll post about our Elimination Communication/Potty Learning experience soon.
I grew up seeing cloth diapers. My Mother was a seamstress, amongst other things and made them for my nieces and nephews. I'm sure I was cloth diapered as well. It always made sense to me that when I had children, I would use cloth.

When I told Mr. Crafty about using cloth dipes and wipes, he was thinking it was going to be a big production. After the first couple of days, he had no problem using/washing them and loved all the money we saved. After a few months, he was all "Why doesn't everyone use cloth?" Ha, he was converted!

Here are some of the main questions people have asked and my answers. Remember this is our experience with cloth and just what we know. There is a whole lot of different types, ways of washing and thoughts on cloth. If you don't use cloth already, explore and see what works for you!

Why cloth?
3 main reasons.
#1, I don't use any chemical home cleansers, hygiene products or cosmetic products, so I couldn't imagine having what makes up a disposable diaper anywhere near Babygirl's genitals.

#2, Environmentally, disposable diapers are detrimental. The negative impact is quite monumental and I don't want any part of that.
-The average baby will go through about 4500 diapers by the age of 2.
-"49 million disposable diapers are used per day in the United States. It takes petroleum-based disposable diapers 200 to 500 years to decompose." planet Green
-Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. Diaper Facts

#3, Money. We spent around $300 on cloth dipe/wipe supplies and that was with me buying some diaper covers, because I thought they we're cute, not because we needed them! Some supplies were also gifted to us. The wonderful thing is we can use all the cloth we have when baby number 2 comes along. I recommend putting your cloth supplies on your registry if you have one.

Is it hard?
Once you get your system down and get the hang of it, it's quite simple. Most people start imagining handling poop when they think of cloth.
The fact is you're going to have to handle poop no matter what.
With sposies, you still have to change poopy diapers, wipe poopy bottoms, wrap the poopy diaper up and dispose of it. The only difference with cloth, is tossing the poop from the dipe in the toilet and/or spraying it off with a sprayer. It's really not a big deal.
There is also the option of using a biodegradable flushable liner. You put the liner on top of the cloth diaper and pull it off and flush if baby poops. We bought some Kushies Liners but never used them.

Are there different kinds?
There are 5 basic kinds. Flats, Prefolds, Fitteds, All in One's and Pockets.
-Flats are your basic rectangular cotton diaper. The old school type diaper. You can do all kinds of folds with these.

-Prefolds are just like flats, but prefolded. Both prefolds and flats come in bleached/unbleached, Chinese or Indian.

-Fitteds are like a flat or prefold, but gathered in the legs and they usually have velcro on them.

-All In One's are cover and diaper all in one, so you don't have 2 seperate pieces. The one below, also has a snap in pad you can add for extra absorbency.

-Pockets are like AIO's, but with a pocket in them for an insert pad.
Pictured below is a Bum Genius

You will need covers only with flats, prefolds and fitteds.
With all these types, there is really no need for pins or snappi's, unless you plan to go with no cover sometimes. We bought a couple of snappi's and never used them after the first couple times.
This is what we used most of the time. A cover with a prefold.

Our stash consisted of:
(all of ours are unbleached and Indian, they are softer and of course no chemicals.)
-2 dozen Indian prefolds newborn size (when they got too small, we used them with the other dipes for extra absorbancy at night or on a car trip)
-3 dozen Indian prefolds regular size
-2 newborn size fitteds
-2 small size fitteds (They are awesome for night use, but too thick for daytime wear)
-2 Bum Genius One size fits all, All In One's with a pocket. These fit babies thinner than other dipes. No big diaper booty, so there nice if babes is wearing pants or something. Very absorbant as well. They we're more expensive than the other types we had though.
-2 newborn prorap covers for when she was newborn.
-8 covers for the bulk of Babygirl's diaper time. We bought 3 others just before she was potty learned. We used 1-2 covers per day. We only changed covers daily or when they got poop on them. Otherwise we just changed the diaper. We went through a lot more covers in the beginning as we were getting the hang of getting them on her properly. There's so many kind though and they're so cute that you may want to purchase others or make your own.
-40 fuzzy buns wipes.

Pros & Cons?
-All the things I mentioned under "Why Cloth?"
-Clean dipers were only a wash away, so we never ran out
-No diaper rash
-Tons of cute covers to buy or make
-Easier Elimination Communication and potty learning

-If you don't have a washer/dryer at home it can be more difficult
-They take up more space traveling
-some of the thicker types can cause major diaper booty

How do you wash them?
I read so much about washing before starting cloth dipes that it started to make my head spin.
So many methods, water types, washer types and soaps!
Here's a good resource for washing.
What worked for us, was doing a regular wash every other time with a pre-soak.
The other time, we did a reg wash with pre-soak with cold and then another wash on hot.
We washed about every other day.
We did'nt do 2 rinse cycles.
From what I've read the 2nd rinse is to get built up soap and oils out of the dipes.
If you have a proper washing soap, you shouldn't have too many build up issues.

For washing soap, we used Country Save and our Homemade All Natural Washing Soap.
Baking soda, vinegar and tea tree essential oil worked well on stains and extra stinky dipers.

What about cloth wipes?
Seriously, these were so much better than sposie wipes! I was even a little skeptical about the wipes part of things, but they worked so well! You can make your own, use soft hand towels, cut up old t-shirts, etc or you can buy them. We use Fuzzi Buns Wonder Wipes that were gifted to us and love them.

They are super soft and have 2 different sides. One is fuzzier to really clean off and then a smooth side for all the nooks and crannies. So much better than disposables and you can make your own solution with none of the toxic or drying ingredients in it.
Most of the time, we just used warm water. Sometimes, we made a solution of water with a drop of lavender and a tiny splash of Dr. Bronner's mild.

Where to Buy Supplies:
I found it very hard to find proper supplies locally. I also searched a lot on craigslist for covers and such and never found what I was looking for. We wound up purchasing online mostly.

I hope this helps someone out there! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask :) About a year and half after I wrote this post, I opened a natural baby boutique, Zen Baby Shop. Stop by or visit us online!
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