So I’m going to write a little post about how and why I decided to use cloth diapers, and how it’s been going so far. When I was pregnant I googled and read everything I could on cloth diapers, because there are SO MANY options and choices and it very quickly becomes overwhelming. I made spreadsheets, lists, bookmarked pages, read blogs, forums, anything I could find on the subject. There are just so many different types: pre-folds and covers, all-in-ones, fitted, pockets, hybrids. There are different sizes, different types for newborns or for overnight. There are complicated multi-step processes for washing. It goes on and on. I knew, and I’d read, that you really just have to try different types or different methods to see what works for you and your baby. But that didn’t sit well with me, because if there’s anything I love, it’s being prepared. So that meant I wanted to have a system in place BEFORE baby got here. Now I’m no expert by any means, and there are literally hundreds of websites and forums out there that will explain all the lingo and everything to do with cloth diapering. But I’m going to explain what I’m doing now and why, so hopefully if you are like me and trying desperately to make sense of this cloth diapering craziness, it might help you a little bit.
First, I chose to use pocket diapers. These have a waterproof (but breathable) outer later, a soft fleecey layer on the inside that touches baby’s skin, and a pocket where you insert an absorbent pad. They either snap or use aplix (velcro) to close. They are similar in appearance and design to all-in-one diapers, where the absorbent inner layer is part of the whole diaper, no pocket to stuff. I chose pocket diapers over all-in-ones because it seems like you can get them cleaner by removing the absorbent material, they dry faster, and you can adjust the absorbency by adding an extra insert or using different materials such as hemp or bamboo. Also, they keep baby’s bum dryer longer because the inner layer of the diaper wicks moisture to the absorbent liner. With all-in-ones, the absorbent material is touching baby’s skin so you have to change baby more frequently. All-in-ones might be a teensy bit more convenient, in that you don’t have to stuff the liners into the pockets after you wash them. Some people just stuff the pocket right before they change baby, but as I mentioned before, I like always being prepared so I stuff them all right after I wash and dry them. It’s not really a big deal, I just do it while I’m watching TV on the couch at night and it takes ten minutes.
I chose one-size pocket diapers, that are supposed to fit babies 8-35 pounds, by adjusting the rise with the snaps on the front. Some brands make different sizes, but I wanted to buy one set and be done with it. This meant that they didn’t fit Miri when she was a newborn. Initially I thought I would buy newborn-sized cloth diapers, or use pre-folds with covers when she was tiny, but the more I thought about life with a newborn, the more I gave up this idea. First of all, you will probably be overwhelmed and exhausted with your new baby and just struggling to keep her (and you) fed and alive, so the last thing you want to be thinking about it is washing diapers on a near-daily basis. However, a friend of mine used cloth pre-folds and covers from the start with her baby and was successful, so it can definitely be done if you’re determined.
But wait, the decisions don’t end there…do you want snap closure or hook & loop? Initially I thought hook & loop, no brainer, so quick and easy. However I read that they don’t hold up as well over the years and multiple washings, and curious little hands can learn to undo them much easier than they can undo snaps. I bought mostly snap diapers, and a couple of hook & loop closures because they’re easier for Grandma’s hands. But I still like the snaps the best, plus the hook & loop are a pain if you forget to cover the tabs for the laundry and they stick together and ruin other fabrics.
Next…what brand?! The most popular and most loved seemed to be Fuzzi Bunz and Bumgenius, so I decided to start there. I got a great deal on a set of used Fuzzi Bunz and bought some new Bumgenius to try out. I thought I’d like the Fuzzi Bunz best because they’re a bit trimmer, and you can adjust the elastic in the waist and the legs as baby grows. However, even though you don’t have to do it very often, adjusting the elastic is a pain. I’ve had a few leaks with them but no leaks at all with the Bumgenius. And this is a small thing, but the Bumgenius have four snaps to Fuzzi Bunz’s six snaps, so they seem a bit easier and faster to change. I can only imagine as baby gets bigger and squirmier this will be even more important. Also, I like the colors and the fabrics of the Bumgenius better than the Fuzzi Bunz, of course that’s a purely personal preference. I have a few Lotus Bumz and Little Monster diapers that I got on sale, so far they still seem too big on my 10.5 pound baby, even on the smallest setting. I also got a couple of Just Simply Baby diapers; I really like these, especially for the cost, as the inner fabric is soft sueded material like Bumgenius and they have a double gusset to hold in messes. They’re still a tad big on her but work well as a back-up diaper. I have a couple of Rumparooz from part of a free deal, and I really like them. They actually can be adjusted small enough to fit a newborn, and they have the double gusset feature as well. Not to mention the tartan plaid pattern on one of them is my favorite. Because if it’s not Scottish…but I digress.
Okay, so now that I had the diapers, I had to clean them. Back to the internet to research…here’s what I’m doing right now: Wash in cold cycle with Bac-Out and a little bit of detergent (Country Save or Charlie’s Soap), then wash in hot cycle with detergent, then rinse cycle in warm. About once a month I add a quarter cup of bleach to the hot cycle. Then I dry on low. Technically I think you’re supposed to line dry the Bumgenius covers but that takes so long, and they seem to be standing up to my dryer on the low setting just fine. Line drying is really great for bleaching out any stains by using sunlight, but since I live in Seattle, that’s a very rare occurrence. I wash a load of 12-14 diapers every other day, and so far it’s not too labor-intensive.
So far, my review is that I love the cloth diapers. Miri hasn’t had any diaper rashes, except when we were using the disposables, and has never had a leak or a blow-out with the Bumgenius diapers. I love not having to run to the store in the middle of the night because “I swear I thought I had another pack of diapers left!” And while I’m not very green or crunchy, I admit it is nice knowing that I’m not adding to landfills with mountains of diapers. Plus our weekly trash was nearly overflowing with the addition of the disposable diapers. Dad loves them too, for all of the above reasons plus the cost savings over disposables, and Grandma finds them to be as easy to use as disposables. I’m sure once Miri becomes more mobile and once I go back to work and have less time for laundry my thoughts on the cloth diapers may change, but I’ll update more then!