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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cloth diapering

So after that last post in which I came across as a blithering fool I will now post on something I know a lot about. Too much perhaps. Which would be cloth diapers. (Expect many, many posts on the topic in the future...)
little man in my first attempt at making pocket
diapers. Notice the little dude is undoing the tab

I love cloth diapers. I really do. There is something about a big baby butt in a fresh diaper and cozy cover that is just so right.

Although I must say here that after 4 years of cloth diapering I am way less enthusiastic than I once was. Maybe I am just less enthusiastic about diapering period. (Go babydear! Go! Do your pee pee in the pot pot! YaaaAAAAY baby!)

I love to encourage newbies to the whole world. So, here is why.

Why cloth diaper?

1. Cloth diapers are cheaper
2. Cloth diapers are better for your baby
3. Cloth diapers are not nearly as icky as you think to deal with
4. Cloth diapers are better for our earth
5. Cloth diapers smell nicer and are cuter

Re point #1 – Yes, its true you can spend an arm and a leg on cloth diapers. But, if you do it my way (cheap-see list below) and have more than one kid its definitely cheaper. Especially if you are the type to buy the expensive all cotton organic biodegradable disposables.

Re point #2 – I have read that disposables are now full of crap (HA, I mean chemicals!) that weren’t typically used when we were babies and are one of the contributors to rising infertility in men. That is enough for me right there, but it goes on. These nasty chemicals (the blue goo that pee turns into) sits on your babies bum (for 12+ hours for some lucky moms!) and all those chemicals DO leech into your babies skin. Nasty. My babies always end up with rashes with extended use of disposables.

Re point #3 – being a parent means doing things like wiping poo off of a wiggly rear end. It’s messy and icky. So for me the addition of dunking a poopy dipe in the toilet isn’t really that much more icky. I have it down to a science, dealing with poo. And as far as adding to laundry amount? What is one more load every few days when you are doing two loads a day anyway? You know? Read below for my how-to.

Re point #4 – Ok. I have honestly heard some moms refer to cloth diapering as “liberal” because of the environmental factor. Umm. Ok. Not sure what that means. To me reducing the amount of waste sitting in a heap for all of eternity is a good thing, (disposables sit in landfills for DECADES and aren’t fully biodegradable.) I think of it as my part taking care of this big green earth God gave us. In any case. That is all I have to say about that.

Re point #5 – Disposables smell icky when peed in. They smell icky to me period. Like chemicals. A fresh cloth diaper allows babies to smell like babies. Not some blue goo. With all the designs of covers and all the fun things you can do they are WAY cuter too. Much nicer than having some paper crap sticking out of your kids pants or having some Mickey Mouse logo on your babies butt.

So. Those are my reasons. Now the how to.

baby dear in a thirsties cover
Cloth Diapering FAQs

There are an incredible amount of cloth diaper choices these days, and it can be quite overwhelming to the newbie. A lot of new moms just want to go out and buy 47 Bum Genius Pocket Diapers.

I often find myself questioned by newbies as they stare at the options in front of them at my favorite diapering supply store. Apparently with two kids hanging on my leg I am worthy.

My advice?

Buy prefolds and covers for a new baby and a few pocket dipes of varying brands that adjust in size (via handy snaps). See what you like once you actually have your baby in your house. I avoid AIOs. Different brands are better for different babies, depending on the size of your baby’s cute tushie, legs, etc.

So. Did that sound like a foreign language? Here is a rundown:

Prefolds – traditional diapers that you fold in thirds and slide under a baby bum and cover with a…cover…no longer necessary to use pins as we now have awesome covers to choose from
Covers – no longer plastic one piece deals that were super icky to clean up. These are now closed by Velcro tabs or snaps and made out of a nifty waterproof yet fairly breathable fabric called PUL (don’t know what it stands for).
Fitted – a prefold with elastic sewn at legs and closed by Velcro or snaps so it is more “fitted” to the baby, hence the name. Needs to be used with a cover. (I make these myself. Instructions to follow this post)
Pocket diapers – Covers with a fleece “pocket” that needs to be stuffed with a liner. Good liners are absorbent hemp or bamboo and fleece. (I buy these and make them.)
AIOs – All in ones. As in diaper and cover all in one. Clever huh? These can be a pain to get dry though. I don’t have these.

G-diapers. People always wonder about these. Not really my thing, plus I don’t like the style of the covers. But, go for it if you want.

Wet bag/Pail liners. Ummm. Why? I always carry plastic bags from the grocery store in my diaper bag. I put wet dipes in the plastic bag. I don’t use a pail liner. Just the pail.

Disposables. Any? Ever? Yes. Nature Baby or 7th Generation disposable diapers are great. There is a time in a place for disposables. In fact, in our family we do disposables for night time, after a certain age my babies bladders just wet through cloth diapers no matter what combination I use. Also, I love Nature Baby but I do confess to using regular old Huggies or whatever when we can’t get to/afford the good all natural cotton kind, (which is frequently.)

Where do you buy cloth diapers? Well, all over the freaking internet. I like Etsy, sure, but go with a seller that is recommended. I prefer buying mine in person. I am not a big e-shopper altogether. I like to see and touch things. There are also little stores on the internet that sell a variety of brands. I like these …..

Tiny Tush
Green Mountain Diapers
Tiny Bird Organics

Sara’s Diapering must-haves:

In case you missed it here is my list.

Prefolds, 1 dozen infant size, one dozen larger size
Thristies diaper covers, 1 newborn, 2 small, 2 medium, 2 large (I have many brands of covers but like these the best)
Hemp/fleece liners 6-8 (I have bought some and made many)
Wool cover - 2, try these folks
Bamboo fleece or cotton fitted diapers, Thirsties 4-5 (I have made my own, bought a few)
Thirsties/BumGenious or some other pocket diaper 5-6
a cute little diapered butt, in a homemade
pocket dipe
Woolies – 2-3 pair, or if you have an obsession like me, 10-12 pairs. I love love love wool leggings/woolies., made by Disana and others (just look up woolies on Etsy!) or these folks (thanks for the link Cari) they are soft, super duper cute, and let your babies butt breathe. That sounds weird but getting air to your baby bum is key to getting rid of or avoiding rashes. I let my diapered age baby crawl/run around naked several times a day actually.


Care of cloth diapers.

Really simple. I got a plastic garbage bin with a lid. All diapers go in. Yes, even the poopies. I am lazy. (You know that!) Every two or three days I take the whole thing into the bathroom, pull out the poopy dipes, dunk in the toilet (this is so gross to say but it usually comes off easier when not as, er, fresh.) They make sprayer attachmentsyou’re your toilet for this purpose. I have always wanted one, but never had one. Then I put the dunked dipes in a separate plastic bucket, reserved for this purpose, and carry it all down to the laundry area. I rinse all poopy dipes, covers, cloth wipes, etc. in a rinse cycle. If they are really bad I put them through a short wash and rinse cycle. Cold water. No soap. I then add in the other pee-pee-only dipes and put on a full cycle. Hot water. 1/3 the soap of a regular load. Extra rinse cycle. I don’t have a clothes line (Bad Mama – I want one though!) I pull out wool covers to drip dry but throw the rest in the drier.

[Edited to add some things I forgot....
It's good to do a "strip" wash every now and then. Soap can build up to cause your dipes to be less absorbant. Which isn't good. Luckily its easy to do, just wash with dish soap, I use regular Dawn. Just a squirt or two. Then rinse an extra cycle, dry and use as normal. Also, if you get a real stinky batch - it happens - throw in some vinegar to the wash. re soap brands. I use whatever is on sale and "free" of scent etc. Expensive organic detergent isnt the best for dipes. The essential oils typically used cause build up really quickly.]

See. Easy. If you can wipe poop off your kids butt you can handle cloth diapers.

Any questions? (PLEASE ask me questions!)

More soon re making cloth diapers.

Next up: Ummm. Don’t know. Getting behind in writing. Babydear is getting molars. Am tired. Blah


  1. Will be using cloth diapers when I get there, ummm... I mean when WE get there :) but for now I just read about what others are doing. We had one little girl in my day care who used Thersties covers prefolds and I found them very easy to use

  2. Hi there! I just stumbled on your blog a few days ago and am enjoying it very much. :)

    I wanted to add re point Number the Second - those disposables have ALWAYS had nasty stuff in them. Even back when my son was a wee baby (22 year ago Sunday, actually! Twenty-two? YEARS? Where does the time go? sniff) Anyway, even back then, his little bum would always end up red and rashy after a couple of hours in them.

    Also, big picture-wise? (Though not as "big picture" as, you know, the ENVIRONMENT, of course.) I'm convinced that cloth diaper babies potty train easier, too. Something about sitting around in wet diapers, I guess. But while all his little peers were sitting around happily in their Pampers, my kid was in training pants all the time by his second birthday. Just. . . you know, saying.

  3. Looks like enough info to keep me busy for awhile. I was already thinking prefolds for the newborn, and then working my way up from there. I'll be writing down that list and taking it with me shopping...
    So woolies don't sound comfortable to me, are they more like felted wool or just strait up wool (like my scratchy winter socks?)
    What would you estimate the overall cost is to begin cloth diapering, assuming that I get everything on the list.

  4. Just want to chime in on a few quick points here. 1. Daddy is also very partial to cloth diapers. I remeber finding small blue crystals on little man's butt while changing a disposable when he was an infant. It honestly made me worry that he would not be able to give us grandkids. . . Just not the kind of thing a new dad should be worrying about. 2. While my work schedule(s) does not allow me to be as frequent a participant as "June," I really don't mind the scraping, dunking, and washing part of cloth. Not a preferred Saturday night date activity, but not a big deal considering I would literally die for these kids. 3. No photoshopping has been involved and no stock photos are being posted. IWO, yes, our kids really are that beautiful.

  5. thursties are GREAT! we use prefolds and them! there's a new store in Ferndale called No Pins Required. You can check them out online, too!! they carry every cloth option you can think of! :)

  6. TL - i definitely think it helps with the potty training. we never used pullups either. how does that help them learn? anyway...welcome! thanks for reading!
    andrea - welcome! ferndale? dont think that is near me but will look up the shop online. there are some great shops out there...i like these folks. we ordered from them in the early days and they had great service.
    cari - you will get there. and then you wont be able to remember life before diapers. HA HA.

  7. melody - an interesting question re cost. let me think...
    $20-25 for good prefolds (you can buy gerber at target for like 10)
    $10-15 for a cover
    $4 or so for a liner
    $20 for a wool cover (or fleece are good too)
    $15-20 for a pocket diaper
    $15-30 for woolies (or more)

    re woolies. i use really soft lambswool or cashmere. they are super nice and yes softer than your typical wool sweater...i can show you some to convince you :)

  8. oh, and i didnt finish with the list really...
    fitteds are anywhere from 10-18 i yes, you could spend hundreds, but i think $150 up front is plenty.
    you can do it for less of course. we started with 4 covers = $50 and two dozen cheap prefolds = $20 add a couple of pocket dipes = $45 (for 3) and you are good to go for the first 6 months at least!

  9. Hi Sara,
    So you want questions? How do you care for your woolies? Do you throw them in the wash? We have been using cloth dipes since our first was born, but just started using wool. I am in love. I would love to read a post on your thoughts on potty training! Including what you used for training pants.

  10. hey mary beth! sorry for the delay. just got through a weekend of birthday celebrations for little man. PHEW. fun but oh its such work!
    anyway. woolies. i am planning a full post on woolies (making them and care) later this fall. but for now i would say the following.
    well, i will offer two versions of care.
    1) what you are supposed to do:
    handwash only when actually soiled (poo, food stains, etc) (for pee you just let it dry. sounds gross but it doesnt smell and is fine to do) when needed though to wash use gentle woolite, etc. then re-lanolize by dissolving lanisoh (yes, the breast cream) in hot water. rub bits of lanisoh on key butt area of woolies. let soak in water. wring and hang to dry.
    2) what i actually do.
    throw soiled woolies in diaper pail (if poo stained) or in clothes laundry (if food, etc. stained) wash. remember to pull out before putting clothes in dryer to hang dry. if you forget then, voila, refelted woolies! and if they shrink too push to force over baby butt, save for next baby. i have done this to several pairs... :(

    as to potty training. definitely another post in the works.

    thanks for reading!

  11. re the diaper sprayer, you can get one at peapods in st. paul for about $40, i am only one month in with my little girl and i would buy one over and over again, it is so easy and takes like a second to get an explosive diaper clean...

  12. A- i have always wondered if they were worth it...i really should've gotten one. maybe the next baby :) sometime...down the line... :)


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