Friday, May 21, 2010

Cloth Diapering

I am, have always been, and probably always will be a disposable diaper gal. That is the way I do it around here. Despite that, I can see that there can be several benefits to cloth diapering, and I know several moms who use cloth diapers. Whenever there is something going on that I don't have experience with, I like to pull in another mom to shed some light on the topic. So, I asked my friend Amanda to write a cloth diapering post. And who knows; maybe one day I will switch over :) You might recognize Amanda from the Children's Learning Activities blog as she is one of the authors. Here are Amanda's basic thoughts on cloth diapering:

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In the Babywise books Gary Ezzo doesn’t really make any recommendations for how to diaper your baby; whether to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. But of course you can’t be on an online parenting site for long before you run across that question: cloth or disposable? For different families the right answer could be either one, or something in between. Daycares often won’t accept cloth diapers, but for a stay at home mother cloth diapers can save some much needed money. Diapering twins with cloth could create a lot of laundry, but it could also save a lot of money and trips to the store. The water used could be nothing to a person in a wet climate, but after living in the Arizona desert I can understand not using more water than absolutely necessary too.
When I was pregnant my husband and I considered cloth diapers for a moment, and quickly dismissed the idea because of the time, cleaning, and hassle involved. Besides, I certainly did not want to mess with diaper pins and trying to fold a cloth diaper! Our son was in disposables for 3 months when the guilt of all that plastic, non-decomposing trash got to us. We were using 8-10 diapers every day, $40 a month, and emptying the small trash can daily just to keep up with the mess. We went through 4 kinds finding a style that didn’t leak or give our son a rash. So we decided to do some research into cost and options for cloth diapering. It turns out our idea of prefolds, pins, and plastic pants was way off the mark!

Currently there are several types of cloth diapers and cloth/disposable hybrids available.


Prefolds—these are the least expensive option, easy to clean, but do require folding and securing with a snappi (a Y shaped hook instead of the old pins, much better!). Prefolds are worn with covers that Velcro or snap shut similar to a disposable diaper.

Fitted Diapersthese fasten like disposables and are made of natural, absorbent materials. They are easy to put on but require a cover. They also tend to be more expensive but the appeal here is the cute patterns available.

Pocket Diapers—these are more expensive than prefolds, a bit more difficult to clean, but are also much easier to put on and are more absorbent. These function just like a disposable diaper, velcroing in the front usually. Recently there are more versions with plastic snaps because snaps hold up better to frequent washing.




All-in-Ones—similar in cost to pocket diapers, these are the ultimate in easy diaper changes. The absorbent insert is sewn in, not stuffed in the pocket back like the pocket diapers so there is no prep before diaper changes. However, these can be difficult to get soap out of and take longer to dry.

gDiapersthese are the ultimate in convenience because they have disposable inserts and so don’t create any extra laundry. The insert can be flushed or tossed or even composted! It’s just paper and absorbent material so it’s 100% biodegradable. The outside shell has a plastic liner that snaps in and out easily. If the plastic liner gets messy, simply rinse in a utility sink or bathtub. The outside shell is cotton, soft, and velcros in the back away from prying toddler hands.



Many people settle on pocket diapers because they are easy enough that babysitters can do diaper changes and are also fairly easy to maintain. For us, side-snapping pocket diapers are our absolute favorite. I learned to sew my own 2 months after we began using cloth diapers and so I can make a pocket diaper in 30 minutes with around $5 worth of materials.

Cloth diaper care takes a bit of learning but is easy once you have a method. We keep a covered trash can (dry pail) in the nursery and a covered trash can half-full of water and a scoop of oxyclean (wet pail) beside the toilet. When a diaper is wet it goes in the dry pail; if a diaper is dirty it gets rinsed over the toilet with a small diaper sprayer (a $40 attachment that took 5 minutes to install) and then tossed into the wet pail. Every 2-3 days we take both pails and empty them into the washer. I wash on cold with detergent and a cup of vinegar, then I wash on hot with nothing added. They then go in the dryer or out on the clothesline. When dry I spend 15 minutes stuffing the inserts into the pocket diapers and put them away in the drawers so they’re all ready to use.

I could list all the math involved in proving that cloth diapers save money, but that would make this post incredibly long! You’ll have to trust me, no matter which style you choose they do save money, even with a slight increase in water usage. If you don’t trust me then do the math yourself or do an online search. I could also get into the details of which is worse, the plastic of disposables in landfills or the water usage for washing cloth. For us, the plastic in landfills won out as the worse option, especially with our HE washer and since I like to line dry the diapers in the warm months. Also consider that the World Health Organization advises against human waste ever entering trash cans, instead advising that poop from diapers be disposed of in toilets—something cloth diapers ensure. Another small benefit in my opinion is that my 22 month old boy is almost potty trained, yay! :) I’m not sure it’s entirely due to cloth diapering but I do think the cloth diapers helped with the awareness of wet vs. dry.

For me cloth diapers fit into our Babywise parenting philosophy. It’s all about planning for the future, looking at the long term benefit (cost or environment) instead of getting caught up in just making it through the day. It’s easier to let my baby sleep in our bed short-term, but long-term it could create a sleep disruption and a bad habit, so we did the hard work early on and now reap the rewards with a toddler who soothes himself to sleep easily. It was difficult to learn how to cloth diaper, invest in the diapers, and figure out how to wash them, but now we go months without buying any diapers and empty our son’s trash can once a week, not once a day. With a second baby on the way I don’t have to stock up on many diapers, we’ll be re-using many of my son’s cloth diapers for the new baby too. Like sleep training, I’ve found cloth diapers are a lot of work in the beginning, and then make life easier later.

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If you have any experience you would like to add on the topic of cloth diapering, please feel free to add it in the comments!

24 comments:

Joy said...

Awesome information! Where did you get your information on how to sew cloth diapers?

M and M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M and M said...

I cloth diapered our first son and will with the one on the way. It does save SO much money! We use prefolds with covers (the covers we have, Bummis, you don't need a snappy the cover keeps them on) and pocket diapers. Pockets are SO easy, we take them to church and leave with sitters and no one has trouble with them. There is a GREAT lady that makes them and they are cheaper than anywhere else I have found and hold up well and are well made. http://www.theluvyourbaby.com/

(Sorry had to repost, there were some errors)

Gabrielle said...

I switched to cloth diapers when my daughter was 8 months and we've never looked back. If any of you are interested in making the switch, you can check out my blog for more info.

I was a bit concerned about nighttime cloth diapering because I wasn't willing to give up her 12 hours of straight sleep for a cloth diaper. But it's totally do-able, even with a heavy wetter like mine. I love seeing CD info. on a babywise blog--many moms who nurse, make their own baby food, and cloth diaper are into attachment parenting, so it's nice to see other like-minded people.

How did you learn to sew your own diapers? Did you purchase a pattern somewhere? What about attaching the snaps? Thanks!

Katy said...

I have really enjoyed cloth diapering (DD is 11 months now). It saves money and it's so nice to not have to worry about running out of diapers! (We do disposables at church and overnight now.) It was really easy at first when DD was on breast milk only and we could just dump the diapers straight in the wash. Once she got on solids, the wash routine took some getting used to, but I've stuck with it. One of my favorite parts was when DD was younger, she would almost always pee when I was changing her...no biggie, just grab a new, dry diaper and throw the other in the wash. I didn't have to feel like I was wasting money by throwing away a barely used diaper.

Kate Bailey said...

I'm a gDiapers user... we love them! They are pricier than disposables, but we love that they have less of an impact on the environment than disposables and cloth diapers. I've never needed a diaper pail, I don't have to wash them very often, and we can flush the whole mess down the toilet. Some people argue that it's more wasteful to flush it down the toilet, but I'd rather send the poop down there to get treated than send it to our landfills! Besides, it's just like having another person in the house using the potty, which is the ultimate goal anyway, right? :) Anyway, I highly recommend them. They're a little harder to use than a disposable because there is some assembly required and you have to flush them afterwards, but they require less work than cloth, too. And I love how adorable they are!

Gabrielle said...

About the g-diapers--for those of you who wouldn't want to use them b/c it's still disposable, know that you can also use a prefold cloth diaper or a fabric insert inside of them now. Econobum and Flip (from the makers of Bum Genius) are the newer diaper systems that function very similarly to the g-diaper, with fabric inserts.

Jade said...

I am very thakful for this post! I think many benefits come with cloth diapers but I had a horrible experience with them! I babysat a boy who was about one until he was about two. He required cloth diapers because of a rash. Some of the diapers were homemade and others were from the store. They were the kind with cloth inserts and snaps on the front. The diapers leaked at least every two hours, so I had to change his clothes this often too. Do you have to change yours this often? I would love to save money but I can't imagine going back to these! I hope you can change my mind:)

McMel said...

i just picked up our first ever order of cloth diapers yesterday! we are using one size aio's and i can't wait! as soon as they're finished washing we're making the switch!!

~Danielle~ said...

I LOVE CD'ing and would encourage all to try it. It is easy & saves TONS of money. I use Thristies Diaper Covers along with prefolds, and Bum Genius Diaper Doublers at night. I washed a load of diapers every 2 days. Sooo easy! And I LOVED all the colors to chose from. My little girl had a pretty butt :)

Joy Sonju said...

We love our Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius pockets. I was especially impressed with how well the one-size Bum Genius started to fit our daughter when she was only two weeks old - weighing less than 7 lbs! We don't even bother with a wet pail - all of them just go together into the dry pail and get washed every two days. Our daughter is nine months already and the diapers look as good as new! We live in the UK and, like most people here, have no clothes dryer - and even having to hang dry all the diapers isn't bad. That's why we chose pockets, and they really do dry quickly. Well worth the up-front cost. And actually, I've had many more issues with disposables leaking at night than when I use a CD with an extra insert! It can seem daunting to jump into what seems like so much extra work, but after a few days, you'll realize how easy and worth it it is to use cloth. And how cute they are!

Redheads said...

Jade - I rarely have leaks, but I do change my DD's diapers every 2 hours. There are sometimes when she wears them for 3 hours or so, but then I make sure that she has on BumGenius or Fuzzibunz - and we have no problem with leaks. On the occasions we have had leaks, it has been because I didn't have the diaper adjusted properly (gaps in leg openings)
Amy

Kristi Lynn said...

I was very excited to see this post on CD’ing! We just started with CDs a few weeks ago and I love it! It makes changing diapers cute! There are so many options when looking for CD I was over whelmed! We choose prefolds from Bummis and I also purchased a few fitted diapers made by Run-a-muk. I think we will be purchasing more fitted diapers for my husband and babysitters because they are fantastically easy to use! I use them primarily at night b/c they are incredibly absorbent and a little thicker than the prefolds. Thank you for this post!

M and M said...

Jade--I think it may have been the combo they were using. My little guy was a heavy wetter and I added a hemp insert at night or just a doubler and can't remember EVER having a leak. I didn't change him but ever 4 hours or so, because our diapers were so absorbent you couldn't even tell if he was wet at 2 hrs.

Amanda said...

I love hearing from all these cloth diapering babywise mamas! For those who asked how I learned to sew them, I joined an online group on cafemom.com and that's how I got started. I actually didn't know how to sew and asked my DH to buy me a sewing machine for my birthday last year. Within a month I was making pocket diapers and fitted diapers easily. Youtube how-to videos and the free Rita's Rump Pattern were very good places to get me started. I have since made a gDiaper sewing tutorial video to give back to others since youtube videos were so helpful to me. I also started a cloth diaper sewing 101 group on the babycenter.com website that is very active and all the ladies there are so helpful. The fitted diaper was one I made for 4th of July and the row of pockets are all my medium homemade pocket diapers and a fitted diaper (the blue dragon one). The gDiaper is also mine, they only come in solid colors normally so I found a cute print to make a cuter version :) I used to use velcro which is easier but now I bought snap pliers and plastic resin snaps to make side-snapping diapers for baby #2 since the velcro catches on itself a lot.

As for leaking, we have had less leaking with cloth than with disposables. The bumgenius 3.0 pocket diapers last a 12 hour night better than a disposable ever did and so luckily the cloth has not interrupted nighttime sleep. During the day with homemade pocket diapers my son could go 3-4 hours and with prefolds more like 2-3 hours. As a nanny and mom I always changed every 2-3 hours anyway so that wasn't a big change for me. I just always change when he wakes up and then before his nap because he always peed while he was eating or directly afterward, lol! Store bought pocket diapers ought to be able to go all night and really do in my experience.

And Valerie, I will totally make you a mini-stash of cloth diapers for free if you decide to switch!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks to everyone who added their thoughts! I almost feel brave enough to try it out! :)

Kristy Powers said...

One more thought about the leaking, Jade--I have fewer leaks with my second son on the same type of diapers that I used with my first (bumGenius). Another cause of lots of leaking could be that the inserts and diapers need to be stripped (i.e., washed with a tiny bit of dish soap and rinsed and rinsed until any residual detergent from other washes is gone). This makes a huge difference for us.

The Culbertsons said...

M & M - How long have your diapers lasted from that website? Those prices look amazing! I cloth diapered my first son for a few months, but then when I became pregnant with our 2nd son, the smell of the diaper pail made me sick, so I went back to disposable and have never went back (my 2nd son is 11 months now!). I've recently thought about trying cloth again and the price of those diapers is very tempting.

MarthaStuart said...

Cloth diapering is AWESOME! Saves on $$ and enviormental impact plus I like the idea of soft cloth next to my baby's skin rather than scraty chemical filled paper.

I echo a previous poster that it is great to see BW moms who cloth diaper and not just the attachment types.

I use BumGenious 3.0 onesize pocket diapers. The same diapers for my 2 month old and almost 2 year old. So the cost up front has more than paid off.

The thought can be overwhelming, but once you start it is hard to go back.

Lauren said...

On the gdiapers, you can use those with cloth inserts, either the gcloth that they sell, or make your own. For us, using the flushable inserts wouldn't have fit our budget--I don't think they're any cheaper than disposable diapers. But using cloth in the gdiapers has worked wonderfully for us!

Lauren said...

Oops! Looks like Gabrielle already mentioned that about the gdiapers. And we use Bumgenius 3.0 One size pocket diapers when we're out of the house or over night. They work SO WELL!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and experiences! I am sure they will help other moms!

Holly said...

I use Fuzzi Bunz and highly recommend them! I have the adjustable one-size and my daughter started wearing them by 4 months, they were a little too big before then. She is now 17 months and I still love them. Plus Fuzzi Bunz has great customer service. The elastic on some of my diapers needs to be replaced and they are sending me replacements. I love the colors of the diapers, they are so cute! I don't even need a diaper cover when my daughter wears a dress.

My second baby is on the way and will really have huge savings with using these diapers for 2 kids. I felt very guilty throwing away all those dirty diapers during my daughter's first few months that I can't image doing that for several years!

Claire said...

I know this is an old post, but we use Fuzzibunz cloth diapers and I have some info. on them (and plan to add more) on my blog: http://www.mydevising.com/search/label/cloth%20diapers Happy diapering!

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