To be completely honest, I think the reason I started cloth diapering was for the prints. I loved how pretty the diapers looked. Pair them with a t-shirt and baby leggings and you have a complete outfit. I started attending La Leche League meetings before I had my baby and saw lots of moms there using cloth diapers and it didn’t look any harder than using disposable diapers. There was not a safety pin in sight. I started asking the moms there about their diapers and started reading everything I could on the internet about cloth diapers. The reaction I got from my family and friends was more along the lines of “oh that’s cute you think you will be able to cloth diaper, but just you wait and see what it is like when the baby gets here. I will buy some paper diapers for you just in case” and even more frequently than that was “ewww! I could never do that!” The naysayers only made me more determined to prove that I could accomplish cloth diapering, just to prove them wrong. Luckily I did have some friends who were using cloth diapers full time to show me their routines and how easy it is to cloth diaper.
THE KINDS OF DIAPERS
Once my daughter arrived, she spent the first couple weeks of her life in paper diapers because she was so skinny none of my OS (one-size) diapers fit her. The website I ordered them from said they were for babies 8-36 lbs but at 6lbs 12 oz at birth there was no way those diapers were going on her bum. Even when she fit 8 lbs those skinny little chicken legs were just way too small for the cloth diapers that I had. Eventually I learned about websites where people would sell their (CLEAN) preloved diapers. I purchased a few newborn fitted diapers and then we were on our way to full time cloth diapering.
She didn’t stay in the newborn diapers long for very long, once she fit a few growth spurts she was ready for the OS diapers. We started with pocket diapers. These diapers were very similar to the disposables I had used for years caring for other children, but washed and dried very easy. (An aio diaper would have been the most similar.) It didn’t take long for our small stash of diapers to grow as I hunted online for more cute diapers. I was able to keep my overall cost low by buying from companies like Alva and Kawaii that make very affordable diapers or buying preloved diapers. I knew even if I was spending $10 on a diaper, that it had the potential to last through multiple children ad would be able to replace entire packs of diapers.
I was even able to send my pocket diapers to daycare with my daughter. As long as the diapers were all prepared with the inserts it was no different than a disposable and no less hygienic once they stored any soiled diapers in my wet bag. Over time my stash evolved as my daughter grew and our needs changed. We eventually switched from an insert made from microfiber, which would leak when she sat hard, to a prefold diaper made from cotton. Then we started using fitted diapers with a cover at night so she could go all night without needing a change.
Eventually I arrived on my current favorite system. I used a diaper cover, my favorite is Planet Wise or Best Bottoms brand, with a folded prefold diaper laid inside. This way all I had to change was the insert if it was wet and I could reuse the cover. If the cover got dirty it was easy to wipe out the inside or change the cover completely. This cut out on having to stuff any pocket diapers or match and snap on any fitted diaper inserts. It also was a lot less bulky to carry around with me as I only needed to take 1 or 2 extra covers and a few inserts with me when out running errands.
WASHING THE DIAPERS
My wash routine was pretty simple. We would store dirty diapers in a hanging wet bag and wash every 2-3 days depending on how many diapers were used. I would toss them into the washer and run one full hot wash without soap. Then I would add a cloth diaper friendly detergent, I made my own, and Calgon because we have hard water, and run a full cycle. If it was a heavily soiled load, I might run a heavy duty cycle with a soak. Then I would run them once more to rinse. Do not use fabric softener on your diapers, it will coat your diapers and make them repel water. If my diapers became stinky when dried or leaked frequently I would rise them several time on the hottest cycle I have (do not use a sanitize cycle on anything plastic or colored, it is too hot! Trust me!) to wash out any ammonia or detergent build up that may have occurred. My biggest concern with using cloth right away was dealing with the sticky meconium poos that the baby has in its first days of life. However, do not fear meconium, in my experience it washes right out and does not stain. If your baby is only breastfeeding, breastmilk poo is completely water soluble and can just be thrown in the washer as is. Once your baby has other food, or formula, their poo becomes more stinky and as they get older more solid, I would shake out as much solid material as I could in to the toilet and wash what was left. If you cannot shake any material off, a diaper sprayer, or detachable shower head if it reaches, can be used to rise off your diaper before washing. The best tip I learned from seasoned cloth diapering parents, was to harness the power of the sun. Laying diapers that are stained or slightly stinky out in the sun will bleach out stains and smells. This for me worked best in the warmer months.
PREPARING FOR THE NEXT BABY
We have currently ended our cloth diaper career for this child, and I admit I am a little sad to pack away the diapers that carried me through her infancy. Not sad enough to dissuade her from the potty but mostly nostalgic at yet another sign that my little girl is growing up and becoming more independent. So my diapers are being given one last wash and stored in her closet for the next baby. I am hoping the next time around will be even easier as we were able to do all of our brand and style experimenting with our first, but every baby is different so we shall see what the future holds for the next.
TERMS I USED
OS- a one size diaper has snaps on it to make it smaller or larger as your baby grows. They usually are listed at fitting from 8-36 lbs. There are some OS diapers
that fit larger sizes for toddlers and special needs children.
Pocket Diaper- a diaper that has the back open to insert absorbent material. The Pocket diaper itself consists of a water proof cover and then a wicking material on the inside to keep baby dry.
Fitted Diaper- a diaper that is completely absorbent and must be paired with a water proof or water resistant cover to contain the wetness.
AIO- a diaper that is most similar to a disposable diaper, it is all one piece including the waterproof cover, absorbent material, and the wicking material. It can take a while to dry because of how absorbent it is.
Prefold- this is one of the diapers people most commonly think of when they think of cloth diapering because it is most similar to “your grandma’s” cloth diapers. It is a flat cloth with an extra absorbent layer in the middle. You need to fold these diapers and secure them as well as using a water proof cover. You can also use them folded in thirds as diaper inserts as the baby grows.
Wet bag- a bag made of a waterproof material to hold wet and soiled items.
Diaper cover- a waterproof layer to be used over an insert or fitted diapers. These can be wool or fleece or can be made of a laminated water proof fabric and snapped like a OS diaper.