Cloth Diapering Part 1

May 31st 2013

I think it best to divide what I learned about cloth diapers into two posts just so I can make sure to cover all the basis without forgetting anything. Lets get started!

This post will cover –

– Why cloth diapers

– Types of diapers

– How to clean the diapers

Disclaimer- In no way do I know everything about cloth diapering! I have done some research and went to a class, and have decided it’s what works for us and our baby. If you want to do cloth, ready on and glean from what I have learned, but also do your own research before deciding what is right for your family.

Why cloth diapers

I decided to go with cloth diapers firstly, because of the cost savings. Saving the planet and all that jazz is nice, but wasn’t my reason for deciding on cloth. Secondly, after doing more research on regular diapers and the ingredients that are in them, it further cemented my decision to go cloth.

Some of the chemicals that really concerned me: Dioxin, a toxic by-product of bleaching, and also Sodium Polyacrylate, a substance  similar to one used in the early 1980’s in women’s tampons, which was revealed to increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. These are only a few of the icky things found in regular diapers. No, I’m not saying your kid is going to die if you use regular diapers, and if you are using regular, more power to you. For me and my family though, I would rather just not deal with possible issues possibly raised from regular diapers. No judgment here either way, it’s just what my husband and I decided, so read on if cloth is something you are considering.

See my sources here.

Types of diapers

This was honestly one of the most confusing parts for me. How do you go about choosing which style will work best for you? There are tons of variations of each style, but I have narrowed it down to two basic types of cloth out there.

The all-in-one diaper.

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Source

These seemed to range around $25 per diaper and are just that, an all in one. They have the waterproof layer, a soft layer for baby’s skin, and the absorbent insert all in one piece. You place it on the baby, they dirty it up, you remove it, and wash the whole thing.

For those on the go, or just wanting less work with cloth, this may be your choice. To me, this seemed very expensive considering you need about 10-15 diapers per day for a newborn, and about 6 – 10 a day for 3 – 6 month olds and beyond.

Some of the options available are snaps versus Velcro. This allows the diaper to grow with the child. The one drawback the teacher of our class mentioned, is that they are super bulky on a newborn. You have all the snaps on the smallest setting possible and there is so much extra fabric folded up into the diaper for when the child reaches 40+ pounds, that you can hardly pull pants on your little guy over the diaper. And on observation, if you are washing the entire diaper each and every time, it would seem like they would get a lot more wear and not hold up as long as some of the other options on the market. Just throwing that out there. (obviously you see I’m biased toward the next type I am about to mention, at least I’m honest.)

One thing the teacher did mention which makes sense, is its nice to have these on trips or maybe if you have someone watch your child for the day. It’s super convenient for a person not familiar with cloth to deal with, and just less hassle if you are traveling.

The Diaper Cover with Inserts

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Okay, so just noticed this, blond moment for today: I totally took a picture of the Spanish side of the box and just realized it now. Yep, I already recycled the box and it’s gone. Awesome. Oh well, you get the gist.

Okay, so the reason we went with these?

– There are a ton of ways to customize these diapers. Example: different folds for different issues. Doing a girl fold for max absorbency in the middle, or a boy fold for absorbency in the front, the ability to add extra inserts if your child is a heavy wetter,  or the ability to try different fold options if you have issues with runny poop, or contents leaking from the leg area etc. Yummy right?

Also, these seemed like the best cost wise. The covers rang in prices around $13, and you only wash them about every 4 changes, unless they get dirty of course. Our instructor said she often just wipes hers down in between changes with a vinegar wipe if it’s not too dirty and uses it again for the remaining changes. The covers also come in snap or Velcro, so you can also choose which option you like best.

As far as brand goes, Bummis was highly recommended. Our teacher said they are one of the best for holding up over time. She also mentioned that if we are planning to use these on more than one child, they are great for multiple children. Sold.

After the class we got a starter kit, which saved us a bit of money, but mostly just got us started with all the essentials. We also picked up a newborn kit because the owner of Mothers Haven talked us into it. She said even if we don’t use the covers more than a few times before our baby grows out of them, the inserts can be used along with the larger styles as an extra layer if we have a heavy wetter, etc. Good point. We also purchased an extra set of fleece liners as well. Our child should definitely not have any leaking issues.

Newborn Pack $46

2 newborn covers/ 2 packs of 6 organic cotton prefolds (inserts)

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Infant Kit (8 – 15 lbs) $189

24 organic cotton prefold inserts / 6 waterproof covers / 3 rolls of Bio-Soft Liners, (300 sheets) / 5 fleece liners / 1 Fabulous Wet Bag / also a sample of detergent and diaper rash cream

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Before I go any further I’ll just explain a few more of the items in our kit. The Bio-soft liners are liners that you can use if you so choose. They are optional. If you want less mess and it’s worth the money to you, you can place them over the inserts. The Bio-soft liner is what will be touching your babies bum. This makes for easier clean up for poopy diapers. The liners are flushable and save the insert from direct poop contact. You simply pull the liner out and flush. Also great if your baby is at daycare as it’s less mess. My mom already told me she would appreciate us using these whenever she watches our little guy. Noted mom!

Lastly, the wet bag. These are where all your inserts/covers/wipes get thrown into after each use. Every two days you empty the contents of the bag, plus the bag itself into the washer and clean them all together! Easy peasy! Our teacher said you need at least 2 large  bags so you have one to use while the other is in the wash, and also a small or medium one for your diaper bag as well.

As for storing your dirty diapers in your wet bags, the biggest point to be made is the dirty diapers need to breath! That’s right, no shutting the wet bag and letting the diapers marinate. Our teacher informed us that they need to breath and that it actually helps them to smell less. I’ll let you know how if that’s really true or not in a few months. If the ammonia from the urine is not allowed to evaporate and disperse, it makes cleaning the diapers a lot harder and you have to do more sanitizing and vinegar washes.

I think this will lead us right into our next topic.

Cleaning the Diapers

This part is really crucial to cloth actually working and being healthy for you and baby. If the covers and inserts are allowed to stay dirty too long, the ammonia from the urine can not only smell but burn your baby’s bottom if not cleaned thoroughly and can even lead to diaper rash. Plus, smelly diapers are just really gross.

Before a cover or insert even touches your baby’s cute little rump though, it must be washed several times to allow the fabric to gain maximum absorbency. Inserts should be washed a minimum of 6-8 times before use. She didn’t really state about the covers, but I would just give them a once over to make sure they are clean and ready!

There are several detergents that are recommended for diapers. The ones she likes best are Country Save, and Tiny Bubbles. Tiny bubbles is especially good for hard water. Others that can be used:

-Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent

– Hydrox

– Mountain Green Baby Free & Clear

– 7th Generation Delicate Care

– Watkins Laundry Detergent (powder)

– Allen’s Naturally Liquid/powder

– Charlie’s Soap

These are good detergents because they don’t leave residue, use oils, or degreasers that can cause repellency issues with cotton and not allow for maximum absorption.

How to clean the diapers:

Our teacher does not recommend pre soaking diapers. If you wash them every two days, it isn’t needed. Her concern with pre soaking is that you may forget and leave them soaking too long, and this will cause mildew to build up and leave the diapers to smell bad.

1. Place all diapers and wet bag in washer and set for a cold rinse first – pre detergent.

2. After the pre rinse to ahead and set it for a normal wash cycle. Wash on any temp, you do not have to use hot.

Tip when adding detergent: If you use a top loader, they use more water so you need to double up the amount of detergent recommended for you load size. If you have a front load, it’s recommended to always wash the diapers with a towel to add weight to the machine, so it allows for more water per load. With a front loader you can use the normal amount of detergent.

3. To make sure the diapers come out with no smell, it’s good to add 1/2c. vinegar to the last rinse cycle. Don’t worry, the diapers won’t smell like vinegar. By the time they come out of the dryer, there won’t be any smell to them whatsoever!

4. Never place the covers in the dryer! Let them air dry.

About twice a year, or when you have a bad stain that wont come out, you can sun you inserts! Lay them in direct sunlight in the hottest part of the day for about 20 minutes and that will get the stains out! Pretty cool hu? Also, if you buy natural fiber diapers they are already a tan color and show less stains. Bonus!

Once a month it’s good to run the diapers through a sanitizing cycle. There is a company called Gro-Via, which sells a tablet that removes urine and mineral buildup. Add that to your sanitizing wash monthly to prevent buildup!

That’s about it for cleaning! Easy!!!

As your child grows and starts to eat mostly solid foods, the poo will start to get more solid. At this point in time (usually around the year old mark or a little after) you can take the poo and flip the diapers around and drop your gift into the toilet and flush. This is also a time many woman get the Bio-Liners and start using them more often. It’s easier to just grab the liner out and place it in the toilet and flush! Some woman buy diaper sprayers that hook to your toilet and spray the diapers off, this seems like it could incur a lot of backsplash so I don’t think that will be my rout, but there are those who like them.

I till try to get my part two cloth diaper post up tomorrow, but it may be Sunday. Stay tuned, there are a few more things you all need to know before you choose cloth!

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