Unless you are currently preggo, you probably want to skip this post. And if you are “stuffed” as they say in Britain, you probably won’t think that even this novel of a post is long enough. At least that’s how I felt about every cloth diaper schpeel I read on the internet a few months ago.
Ahhh cloth diapers. Such a weird obsession for so many people, including me. Why did we go cloth? Mainly 3 reasons:
1. Babies poop alot, a good 10+ diapers a day in the first month or so. That’s a lot of disposable diapers ending up in a landfill.
Most babies in China don’t wear diapers and when I imagine what the world would look like if they all did, I envision giant mounds of Pampers visible from space. But who am I to get to put my baby in disposables if I don’t want 1 billion Chinese babies in them? Cloth diapering = putting our money where our yuppie, mildly crunchy and earth-loving mouths are.
2. It costs upwards of $1500 to diaper a baby from birth to potty-training.
It’s even more if you are buying yuppie, crunchy, 7th generation diapers like we do. Plus all of those disposable wipes… That’s an insane amount of money to spend on someone else’s poop products. By contrast, even the most expensive stash of cloth diapers will run you around $400-$500 total and if you use prefolds, etc, it can be considerably less.
3. For us, going with one-size pocket diapers has been an insanely easier process to keep our baby’s butt covered than with disposables.
We used disposables for the first few weeks while we waited for him to grow into his one-size cloth diapers. We were constantly running out to the store and then when we stocked up on a bunch of size 1 diapers to bring to China as an emergency stash, what do you know, he’s grown into size 2 and all of the diapers we brought with are almost useless.
Cloth, by contrast, is much more straight-forward. Figure out what snap settings fit his wee little bum, set all of our dipes to that setting, use, wash, stuff with inserts, repeat. No emergency runs to the store, no anxiety over wasting money on dipes that don’t fit. It’s simple. Even the extra laundry is no big deal because, it turns out, babies create A LOT of laundry. You’ll be a slave to your washing machine no matter what, an extra load every other day or so ends up being no big deal.
So the verdict 8 weeks in: we love cloth, all 3 of us. It’s easy for us even in the middle of the night, his butt seems to stay drier and happier even after 6+ hours in a dipe and did I mention that the diapers are so freaking adorable on his little tush?
Before I started cloth diapering I scoured the internet trying to figure out the best kind of pocket diaper, the best detergent, the best storing dirty dipes strategy, basically everything. Here is the low-down on what has ended up working for us though I’m sure things will inevitably change as he gets bigger, poops less, wets more, starts solids, etc.
1. We didn’t start with cloth right away.
One-size diapers like the kind we purchased could, theoretically, fit a newborn, but not our 6.5 pounder. You can of course buy newborn-sized cloth diapers but given the length of time we assumed Will would wear such diapers, we decided it wouldn’t be worth it. Plus neither of us were expert diaper changers before Will; we wanted to make things easy on ourselves while we were mastering the details of, you know, keeping another human being alive and healthy and clean and stuff.
Next time around I think I might want to try prefolds in order to use cloth right away. Cloth is no harder to put on a baby than disposable and having to run out to the store with a newborn and very sore girlie parts because you are down to less than 5 diapers in the house and your baby poops approximately 18 times an hour is a lot less fun than it sounds.
2. We bought 1 each of several brands of pocket diaper and tested them all on our baby to see what we liked.
You won’t know what you like until you have your baby and you are able to try them out, no matter how many reviews you read. I thought Will would be a huge fat baby, but he came out tiny. You can’t plan for a baby’s body type until he or she is in your arms and even then, it changes fast. You also can’t really plan for what you will find most convenient/least taxing during those 2am diaper changes, unless you have experience of course. Worst comes to worst , you try a few, you like one type or brand, and the rest become your “meh” diapers that you can use in a pinch when you get lazy with the laundry.
3. We settled on BumGenius Pocket Diapers
Pocket diapers because I liked the idea of being able to add extra stuffing overnight and the ability to get the diapers dry a lot faster than with all-in-ones. Pockets because pre-folds and covers seemed too complicated for us newbie parents.
The decision to go with BGs was a bit more surprising to me because I was all set to go ga-ga over Fuzzibunz like much of the rest of the internet-diaper-obsessed world.
Keep in mind, what you like will depend on you and your baby, it might be totally opposite of what we like, no biggie. But, in case you are curious, here’s why we liked the Bums:
a. The fleece on the inside is thinner and smoother, not fluffy like a fleece jacket as it is in the FuzziBunz and Charlie Banana diapers. After a tour in our 20 year old washing machine at the Consulate, that plush fleece lining on the FZ and CBs looked all pilled and less comfortable. It also seemed like it would be warmer-no good since we’ll be heading to India for 2 years starting next summer.
b. The section between the legs on the BGs is significantly wider across than on the FZ and CBs on the smallest settings. I had no idea until I compared them side by side, and I didn’t think I would like this feature but I think it helps prevent leaks now and will probably fit him better as he gets older since these diapers are meant to take him up to 35 pounds or potty-training, whichever comes first.
c. The BGs are less customizable and, surprisingly, we like them that way. Whereas BGs have just 3 rise settings to help close up gaps around the leg holes, FB and CBs both have adjustable elastic bands around the leg holes in addition to the waist snaps to better customize the fit. For me, it was just too much for my sleep-deprived brain to think about and since we haven’t had real leaking problems with the BGs it just didn’t seem like an important enough feature to warrant the time and energy to figure it out. For YOU though, this might be great. Again, just depends on the baby and you.
d. FBs and CBs made my baby look a little like a turtle flipped on its back. Picture a giant butt and flailing limbs. They were just way, way bulky on his little bum. I’m sure as he gets older this would cease to be an issue but right now the BGs give us a slimmer, trimmer fit.
4. We started with 12 and ended up buying 24 diapers.
Honestly, 18 would probably be sufficient but we’re going for ease of use and since we plan on using these dipes for any younger siblings Will has as well, it didn’t seem like the end of the world to get a few extra. With 24 I think we can go about 1.5 to 2 days between loads of diapers, probably longer as he gets older and poops less.
5. We use GroVia cloth wipes, flannel wipes, and hippie-crunchy diaper wipe concentrate + water.
Like a lot of people, we’ve found that as long as we are using cloth diapers, its easier to also use cloth wipes. No worries about accidentally putting the diaper in the garbage and the wipe in the diaper pail in the middle of the night this way. They all go to the same place. These wipes are so nice and soft and wonderful that I’ve actually commandeered a few from Will’s stash to use as wash clothes for my face (pre-poop!). Chris and I both love them. We keep them dry on the “changing table” (aka dresser) and keep a squirt bottle with mostly water and about a tablespoon of oil (some olive, some aloe, etc) in it. We just shake up the squirt bottle, squirt a little on the wipe and voila! We only need one wipe for even the poopiest of messes, rather than 4 or 5 with disposables. Another quick note: when using cloth diapers more of the poo seems to stick to the diaper rather than the baby making clean-up even easier.
I should also mention that Will seems to really like these wipes too. He gets this huge goofy grin on his face when we wipe his butt. Or maybe he just likes getting his butt clean?
Basically, I wanted a nice garbage can we can still use after Will is done with diapers. Most diaper pails are at least 40 bucks and useful only for the time your kid is in diapers. Ours was 40 bucks but more useful long-term. We have 2 waterproof liners and when its time to do laundry we just pull out the whole bag and up-end it into the washing machine and then throw the bag in with the diapers. It’s dead simple and minimizes contact with poopiness. The smell is pretty well contained at this point but I’ve got some Bac-Out on standby for when the diapers start getting smellier.
6. We give the diapers a cold rinse in the washer, followed by a hot wash, followed by an extra rinse. Inserts goes in the dryer, covers air-dry or go in the dryer on the “low” heat setting.
Since Will is still exclusively on breast milk his poo washes away without any need for us to pre-wash the diapers. Things will of course change when he starts solids but for now it all works. As far as detergents, I’ve tried Rockin’ Green and Bum Genius and I’m going with Bum Genius these days. Our washing machine at the Consulate is so old and so full of mineral-crud that it leaves rust spots on the diapers when I use the Rockin Green. BUT that is damn fine detergent for cleaning your machine! It’s a great detergent, just doesn’t work here for us. Our water is really, really hard here so we’re also going to be experimenting with all sorts of “stripping” methods in the coming months. Will keep you posted on those.
7. For now, we use newborn inserts during the day and full-size inserts folded over in the front for at night.
During the day we go about 3 hours between changes without any leaks at all, sometimes even longer if he eats, plays and then takes a long nap before I get to change it. We like the trimmer fit for daytime when he’s scooting around doing tummy-time. At night, for now, the double-stuffing in the pee-producing region buys us a solid 6 hours. We went a full 8 hours in one diaper the other night as I was attempting to keep him asleep as long as possible to help wit his baby jet-lag. (He still woke up to “dream feed” a couple of times) Even after 8 hours in one diaper, Will remained totally rash-free and leak-free. Score.
As the volume of his outputs go up over time, I know we will need to make changes to what we use for day and night. For now though, what we have works well.
8. Out and about around town, we bring cloth diapers for on-the-go changes. For 30 hour transcontinental trips we use disposables.
Cloth is totally doable for one or two changes out around town, but we aren’t insane. Cloth-diapering the kid from Green Bay to Chicago to Beijing to Chengdu would have required a whole additional carry-on full of diaper accruements. There are limits to the power of cloth I guess.
9. Not entirely relevant but our kid loves his changing pad.
When I was looking for a changing pad I found this one. The price seemed sort of outrageous but the ability to wipe it clean was very alluring. That seemed like a smart thing to have especially for a little boy since they tend to pee all over the place. After reading about 101 estatic reviews I was sold.
Holy cow, sooo glad we spent the money on this thing. Will loves, loves, loves being on it. Every time we lay him down for a diaper change he gets so happy. He likes being on it so much we usually give him a few extra minutes of naked time on it with every diaper change. Letting his bum air-dry is great for preventing diaper rash and the fact that we can just wipe up any messes, makes it so, so easy. Plus we love seeing our baby all smiley and cooing. Don’t know why he thinks its so neat, could be that it stays nice and warm? That its a little squishy? That the high-ish sides make him feel all cozy? Not sure, just know that it works.
10. Anything else? Just we love our cloth diapers!
Seriously, wayyy easier than we thought it would be. Probably not worth my 5+ months of obsessing. But, then again, obsessing over diapers kept me from obsessing over more scary things like labor?