Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Cloth Diaper Life

As I have mentioned before, we cloth diaper around here.  We are hardcore recyclers and composters, so when we decided to have a baby, naturally I knew we would cloth diaper.  I'm a stay-at-home mom so there's no reason I can't wash diapers.  I certainly can't imagine throwing away all those diapers.  Plus, what's really inside those disposables?

I know some of you mommas know all about cloth diapers.  Some of you mommas that are my momma's age, know them a little bit differently.  You are probably familiar with the white cotton rectangle that you pin on, then cover with rubber pants.  They've come a long way since then.

Now there are so many options it's overwhelming to know where to begin.
Flats, fitted, prefolds, all-in-one, all-in-2, pockets, covers, PUL, wool shorties, longies, snappies, stripping, AAAAh, what does it all mean?  I'm going to have a couple of diaper posts explaining our cloth diaper life.  
I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy trying to figure it all out.  And believe me, all the information is out there, so much so that it was overwhelming.  There's even a book on cloth diapering, and countless blogs...and here I go adding more to that sphere.  I actually made a handful of diapers for Baby O in the beginning. But not having a baby or any cloth diapers to see first, I didn't really know what I was doing.  She also ended up being a pretty good sized baby at 8 pounds.  The newborn dipes I made lasted about 2 weeks before she outgrew them.  The others...well I had to do some modifications, but I still use them occasionally.  Eventually, I just bit the bullet and ended up buying some.
homemade newborn diapers
So I bought a couple variety packs to try to figure out what I liked best.  Then stocked up on my preferred dipe. One of the decisions to make is snaps or velcro.  Both have pros and cons.  Velcro is loud at night and sticks to everything in the washer/dryer but, it's quick and easy. Some call it "dad friendly."  I didn't like velcro, I like the snaps.  It's a pretty customizable fit too and looks cleaner, no fuzz ball hitchhikers. DIAPERS I picked one-size, pocket diapers.  One size means they fit from infancy through toddlerhood.  You could use the same diaper from birth to potty training.  That's pretty cool.  They have an adjustable rise so you can shorten or lengthen the front of the diaper with snaps. Pocket means that the inner of the diaper is like a pocket, you stuff an absorbant cloth inside of the diaper cover.  Alternately you could just lay a liner inside of the diaper cover and reuse the cover a couple of times unless it gets soiled, if ya know what I mean.  The liners are usually rectangle and made from cotton, bamboo, hemp, or microfiber, or some sort of blend.  Each material has it's pros and cons.  I personally like bamboo or hemp best. They are very, very absorbant and come from sustainable resources.  Bamboo stays softer longer over time.
diaper shelf on changing table
WIPES What about wipes?  I have cloth wipes too.  I just cut a bunch of scrap flannel into rectangles, and hemmed around the edges.  I make a cloth wipe solution and pour that over the wipes.  My mom got us a wipe warmer when she was born, so that's where they stay.  The warmer hasn't been plugged in in months, maybe that'll be a winter treat for her bum.  I'll plug it back in when it gets cold outside. STORAGE I have what's called a "wet bag" to put dirty diapers in until wash day.  It's just a big zippered bag that hangs from the changing table that has a waterproof liner.  When it's time to wash the diapers I just open the bag and dump the contents into the washer.  I also have a small wet bag for her diaper bag, it'll hold about 3 dirty diapers on the go. WASH If it's got a lot of gunky poo in it I have a sprayer attached to the toilet and just spray it out into the toilet, flush, and put the diaper in the wet bag.  No hands on, no scrubbing in the toilet.  Since she was exclusively breast fed in the beginning that step was not necessary.  Breast-fed (bf) poo is like the consistency of yogurt (sorry y'all but we're talking about diapers so of course I'm going to discuss a bit of poop), it can go in the washing machine and it'll get diluted and wash right out.  Also, if you didn't know- bf poo doesn't stink.  A lot of people say it smells like buttered popcorn or cornbread.  Isn't that weird?  It does.  It's not bad.  Thank God, because I was worried about that.  I mean, I never changed a diaper in my life until I had her. I usually wash diapers every other day, any longer that that and it starts to get smelly.  I dump the diapers in the washer.  I usually wash the wet bag every other week or so.  I made a wet bag in the beginning and wore it out, so I bought a replacement bag off of Etsy.  I try not to wash it unless it smells super funky.  I don't want to wear it out too. Dump diapers in washer one normal cycle on cold water with no detergent, extra rinse. Second wash cycle on hot water with half a scoop of detergent, extra rinse. Stay away from fabric softeners because they actually cause the diaper to repel water instead of absorb. If there are any poo stains, the sun will bleach them out.  I love hanging diapers out to dry on the clothes line. The covers are so light and quick drying, I can usually hang them up in the laundry room to dry and they are dry in an hour or two.  The stuffings though, take awhile, I'll hang them out to sun bleach and then throw them in the dryer to soften them back up.  I also have dryer balls that helps with that.  That's another post.  That's it.  I've been looking at our water bill and there's no noticeable difference between this year and last year before we had a baby.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't.  It's just one extra load of laundry every other day.  If I don't get to folding them, I just use them right out of the laundry basket.  No running out to buy diapers or wipes, ever! They paid for themselves a few months ago, somewhere around 6-7 months.  One could buy cheaper diapers, even used diapers (I did buy a few used) and they will pay for themselves quicker.    There's so many cute diapers out there, you could really get carried away with shopping for cloth diapers.  If they are in decent shape, you can resell, or swap them. Plus you can hang on to them for future babies and then there's no diaper expense at all for that child.  If I had known about all the cloth diaper swaps that are out there before I bought ours, I would have gone that route.  It's a great way to find a bargain.
Traveling with cloth can be tricky, but we manage.  In the very beginning we bought disposables to use while out.  But they smell funny and gave her toosh a little rash.  Now we just plan ahead and make it work.   I think that's basically it.  I'm going to do a few more posts in the future about the specifics.  Thanks for reading, if you made it all the way through.

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