Cloth Diapering 202: The Final Hurdle

We made it to day four and the final part of my four part series on cloth diapers.  There was lots of information if you missed it on the cloth diapers themselves, use and care, and the detergents you can use when you cloth diaper.  Now that you have that all straight in your mind (I hope) it’s time to talk about some unexpected hurdles along the way to cloth diapering.  A few of these I have had myself and a few I have heard from other people.

Cloth diapering isn’t for everyone and don’t feel bad if you can’t overcome some of these hurdles.  Parenting is all about choice and diapers are a small part of your child’s life so don’t get hung up on it all.  I promise you they will become productive members of society even if you use disposable diapers on them.  But if you are really interested in cloth diapering, then hopefully I can help you with some of the hurdles of life.

Family And Friends

Everyone has an opinion and no one likes to give it more than when you have a brand new baby.  Cloth diapers conjure up all sorts of terrible memories for our parents generation I think.  When I was a baby my parents started out cloth diapering me actually, but I got a rash so they switched to disposable.  Even back in 1978 there wasn’t a lot to choose from with diapers.  It was Pampers and they were big and bulky and not like they are today.  But for many the invention of disposable diapers was a huge weight lifted off their shoulders of less laundry.  So many times our parents and even our grandparents can’t really understand why we would want to go back to the inconvenience of cloth.

This is really just their lack of knowledge on cloth diapers today though.  Some of your friends might even be like ewww cloth why?  So take the time to educate them.  I showed my parents the different diapers.  Explained to them how they are used.  They listened and seemed to find it all interesting and we shared stories about diapers.  My mom remembers having to hang her little brother’s diapers on the clothes line when she was younger.  Bonding over cloth diapers.  I don’t know that they get it and why I want to do it, but they aren’t changing them so it’s not their choice.

What if they are changing them?

Perhaps your family or friends are your childcare when you go back to work.  In that case you do have to get them comfortable with cloth diapering.  Talk it up a lot.  Have them help you pick out the diapers.  Show them how cute they are.  Not just plain rubber pants anymore.  There are colors and designs.  Grandma might be especially interested in coordinating outfits and diapers.  Make sure they know that you don’t expect them to be washing the diapers at all.  Because really, that’s the biggest issue people have with cloth is the washing.  Well, that and the leaks.

It has been my experience though that there are less leaks with cloth.  Right before we switched my youngest to cloth she had a blow out disposable diaper that went straight up her back.  In the past year since I started with cloth I haven’t had a single shoot up the back or down the legs diaper.  And there have been opportunities for that kind of mess.  So get people to share their stories about blow outs with cloth with your family member who is apprehensive about being the caretaker of your child in cloth.  No diaper can contain everything, not even disposable.  Sure you’ll have to change more frequently with cloth, but that’s only because you don’t want to leave that dirty diaper on a baby’s delicate skin for any length of time.  So appeal to your family members love of your child and her delicate skin if you have to.  Help them to see it’s healthier to not be sitting in wet pants for an extended amount of time.  Who wants to sit in wet pants?

Another option you have is using biosoakers.  This might not really make cloth diapering a money saver for you.  So maybe if you only need Grandma for an hour or two a day or it’s just on occasion that someone else will be caring for her you can use this.  For my oldest daughter’s 13th birthday we had taken her and a few friends to the movies.  I had asked my neighbor to watch the 3 younger children while we took her.  This was the first time we had left the baby (who was 14 months old at the time) with anyone else.  My neighbor has been great about the cloth diapers and always thinks they are so cute, but she wasn’t changing them until that night.  So rather than having to make her learn how to fold flats or deal with poop inside a cloth diaper I gave her some biosoakers that she could just toss.  I think either way she would have done what had to be done especially since this isn’t a regular thing, but it just seemed to make the most sense to me that she do it that way.

The Husband Hurdle

I actually don’t like considering the husband a hurdle.  He’s a partner in raising your child so you shouldn’t really be trying to overcome him, but rather working with him.  When I was pregnant with my youngest I was looking into cloth.  I was looking for ways to minimize our waste in save us some money.  We were becoming a family of 6 in a small 1500 square foot apartment.  I was all about being a minimalist.  No stroller, no baby carrier car seat thing, no baby swing.  Less was more.

So when I told my husband that I was thinking of using cloth he flat out said no and I respected that.  I was throwing a lot at him and it wasn’t a battle I wanted to have.  Plus we didn’t have the funds for the start up with cloth.  No one was throwing me a baby shower for my 4th child and we hadn’t kept a whole lot from the other children.  So we were strapped and that was one more expense we just couldn’t handle.

Fast forward to our daughter being four months old and me being the stay at home mom who did just about all of the diaper changes; things were different.  We revisited the idea.  Again my husband said no, but we talked it out.  No fighting, just calmly and rationally I gave my case for cloth diapering and then asked him what his concerns were.  I addressed all of his concerns and we made a deal.  He wouldn’t change ANY diapers and I would stay on top of the laundry.  I know, it sounds like I got the raw end of the stick, but it was a compromise I was willing to make.  I couldn’t be apart from my daughter for any length of time at that point anyways because she was exclusively breastfed and I didn’t pump.  And I was doing the majority of the diaper changes as it was.  Not much was changing in my mind except I was going to be using the diapers I wanted and saving us money in the long run.

I don’t think my husband believed that I would last this long.  He has for the most part stayed true to his word when it came to changing diapers.  I did leave her overnight a few months ago and then my husband had no choice, but to change her.  I set him up with biosoakers so all he had to do was toss them in the trash and not deal with anything else.  If he had run out of those I gave him my two pocket diapers and told him if he needed he could use those and just put them in a shopping bag if she pooped and I would take care of it when I got home.  He did fine.  He didn’t need the pocket diapers.  He was spared the poop even.  It was just one night.

If your husband is not up for cloth diapering, then I would really just talk to him about his concerns.  Maybe he has some valid points of why it just won’t work.  My daughter’s therapist was telling me that she wanted to cloth diaper, but they have a well and a septic tank.  Her husband was concerned that using cloth diapers would cost them more money in the long run.  The use of extra water for washing the diapers could have caused the well to run dry.  And if they ended up with a septic back up, then they would be paying thousands and thousands of dollars to dig up the back yard and repair that problem.  I don’t know that you can really argue with that one.  She was really stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Maybe a diaper service would have been an option for her.  I didn’t ask.  Her mother is her childcare provider and didn’t want to change cloth diapers so she just let it go.  And like I said that’s fine.  Sometimes it’s just not worth it to battle everyone over something like diapers.

Daycare

Many daycare’s will not allow cloth diapers.  You might have better luck with a home daycare person.  If it’s a friend you might be able to help convince her that it’s not going to be added work for her.  Some are apprehensive, but once you show them what it’s all about they might be willing to give it a try.  Of course first and foremost when choosing the care for our children we want to base it on who’s going to provide the safest environment for our child not if they are willing to use cloth diapers.  And then we need to take into consideration cost.  The daycare’s that will take cloth diapers might charge you extra.  I don’t really know, I never had to find a daycare for my child let alone find one that was okay with cloth diapers.  This is just something I have heard that some daycare’s will do.

If you are really interested in using cloth and you have to have your child in daycare then you might just have to really shop around.  Talk to the providers.  Bring some of the diapers if you have them.  Bring pictures of them if you don’t.  Explain the process of cloth.  Just like your family and friends might not be aware of how much cloth has changed daycare providers might be unaware of it too.  Explain to them that they don’t have to do any soaking of the diapers.  You will take care of all of that.  You might luck out and find someone who’s willing to try.  And in the process you also might get other parents interested in cloth diapering.

Unfortunately sometimes this is just a hurdle you cannot overcome no matter how much education you give people.  That is okay though.  Your child is not going to end up in therapy as an adult because you couldn’t find a daycare who would allow you to cloth diaper.  No one expects you to do both disposable and cloth either, that’s just silly and pointless.

No Washing Machine

Okay, I must admit I would be lost without a washing machine.  When my old one was giving us problems and we didn’t have the money to replace it I was going crazy.  We did the no washing machine thing for a few years, but that was back when we were just a family of 3.  Looking back I seriously don’t know how we managed.  I had to wait for my husband to have a day off from work to go wash laundry because I couldn’t carry the bags of laundry and a baby into the laundromat all by myself.  So we would go there with 2 weeks worth of laundry usually.  My family is double the size now, even without cloth diapers to wash I would never make it out alive if I could only wash our laundry once or twice a week.

But anyways, I have washed all of my diapers in my bathtub before.  We had a freak October snowstorm last year that left us with no power for 3 1/2 days.  I got to the point where I was running low on diapers though and since most places around us were also without power I didn’t even think I could find an open laundromat.  So I put them in the tub.  Luckily we still had hot water because we have a gas hot water heater.  I made our bathroom a steam room washing those diapers.  With some dish gloves on my hands I sat over the tub and scrubbed those diapers clean.  Then I hung them to dry.  Drying took a while because it was around 47 degrees in our apartment if I recall correctly.

Diapers can be washed by hand though.  I wouldn’t really recommend it.  But if you really want to cloth diaper and you don’t have a washing machine and don’t see yourself getting one, then you can hand wash if you so desire.  You can go to the laundromat with them too if you will get there more often than I use to.  And with their industrial strength washing machines you just might have no problem getting your diapers clean.  Be careful though, I am not sure if some laundromats might prohibit you from putting cloth diapers in their machines.  You’ll have to check with your laundromat about that.

You can always look into a diaper service for this too.  But compare prices carefully.  If your main goal in cloth diapering is to save you money, then this might not be the best route.  You’re basically renting diapers on a weekly basis.  And they are most likely going to be pre-folds.  No pocket diapers or AIOs.  So if that was what you were hoping to use you might not be able to with a diaper service.

A weeks worth of cloth diapering a newborn could mean you will need about 84 diapers (12 changes a day).  It can cost you $20 or more a week to get that many diapers from a diaper service.  Disposable diapers, depending on the brand you go with, could be a few dollars cheaper than that a week.  So make sure you do your homework.

If you have a washer but no dryer, then you’ll be just fine.  As long as you have a good place to hang them to dry.  All of my covers/shells are hung anyways.  I did find that when I hung my flats to dry that one time they were a little stiff.  It didn’t seem to bother my daughter any though.

So there you have it, the hurdles to cloth diapering.  If you are having every single one of these hurdles, then cloth diapering likely is not something your family is quite ready for.  And that’s just fine.  Just do the best you can.  Cloth isn’t best for everyone and every situation.

Can you think of any other hurdles to cloth diapering and how to overcome them?

This concludes my Cloth Diaper Guide.  If you missed any of the other parts I urge you to go back and read them.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Cloth Diapering 101: The Diapers

Cloth Diapering 102: Use And Care

Cloth Diapering 201: Detergents

By the way, come back tomorrow for a review and a giveaway of a product that you can use with cloth diapers.

Cloth Diapering 201: Detergents

Continuing on today with my cloth diaper series.  So far I have talking about the different kinds of diapers and use and care of diapers.  Now it’s time to tackle the next big decision that needs to be made when you are going to start cloth diapering.  What is the best detergent to use?

There is so much to choose from.  Of course there’s your regular detergent and then there are special detergents that are meant to use specifically with cloth diapers.  Ultimately what you choose is going to depend on your diapers, your machine, and your child.

Regular Detergents

Way back in the day when cloth diapering was all there was there were no special detergents for cloth diapers.  It was whatever you used to wash the rest of your clothes.  Then again, cloth diapers also didn’t come in the many different materials they come in now.  And washing machines were different too.

Since I started out with traditional flats like Grandma used to use I felt comfortable in sticking with my typical Tide detergent.  I didn’t want to buy a separate detergent for diapers.  And I knew that my daughter hadn’t had any sort of reaction since we started when she was 4 months old.  So I started with Tide Original.  We did fine with that for 6 months and then my daughter got this rash that would not go away.  This also happened to be around the time where I was also having problems with my washing machine.  I contacted Tide and they kindly sent me several coupons for their Tide Free and Clear to try.

I was still having trouble, but again, I think it had more to do with my washing machine in the end.  Once we replaced my machine things started to improve.  I also had to get the doctor to finally give her some medication to clear up the infection that she ended up with.  The concern with Tide is the enzymes that are in it.  Some children can react to this.  So frequent changes can help avoid problems, but then again you might want to go with something else all together.

Of the big name detergents you will find in your local grocery store All Free and Clear probably is the best for most diaper types.  Don’t ask me why I haven’t switched to that.  I only use the Tide Free and Clear on the diapers as it is.  I guess I’m just a Tide girl.  It’s hard for me to give up some of my favorite brands.

If you are going to go with something you can get in the grocery store then you want it to be as bare bones as possible.  No fabric softener in it.  Little to no brighteners or bleach.  No scents.  You might think a baby soap like Dreft would be great, but it contains brighteners, scents, and enzymes.  So you would be better off with the Tide Free and Clear than something like Dreft.

Special Detergents

Now there are all kinds of cloth diaper makers who are also making their own soap.  If you have a stash of BumGenius diapers, then you might want to use their soap too.  Because they put together what will work best with their diapers.  I think most people have a mixture of diapers though.

I had some samples of Tiny Bubbles for a while.  I tried using that instead of my Tide when I started having my rash problems, but nothing changed.  That was part of why I thought it was more my washing machine than the soap I was using.

Rockin’ Green seems to be a very popular soap with many in the cloth diaper community.  I don’t have any first hand experience with it.  I think the unscented is probably better, but that is probably true of all detergents.  Less chance of reactions when you have unscented.  Most seem to love it, but the ones who don’t are all saying the same thing, it doesn’t get rid of the stink even with the hard water treatment.

My Recommendations

If you want to try some of the special cloth diaper detergents I recommend contacting the companies and asking for some samples.  Give it a try first before you go spending the money on it and hating it.  If you have a few different to try that’s great.  So if one doesn’t work the way you think it should you can try another one to see if it’s the detergent or you’re having another issue maybe.  Like build up that needs to be stripped.  Remember to always follow the recommended usage.  And HE washers require less soap.  With my Tide Free and Clear I don’t even use the recommended amount for a small load.  I have had no stink issues.

Be aware of your water, your washing machine, and your child’s sensitivities.  Take all that into consideration (if you can) when purchasing your detergent.  My top picks (because it’s all I have used) is Tide Free and Clear and Tiny Bubbles.  But what works for me might not work for others.  And it’s all trial and error.  Just like you have to try out several different disposable diapers to find the ones that work best for your child and your budget, you also need to take that same consideration with cloth diapers and the detergent you use to wash them.

I hope you have been enjoying my cloth diaper guide so far.  Come back tomorrow for the final piece in the series about the possible hurdles to cloth diapering.

Cloth Diapering 101: The Diapers

Cloth Diapering 102: Use And Care

Cloth Diapering 102: Use And Care

This is part 2 of my four part series on cloth diapering.  In part 1 I discussed the different kinds of diapers there are today.  If you haven’t read that yet, then you might want to do so now.  It will help you to understand a little about what I am talking about when I say pocket diaper or AIO.

Everyone wants to know how do I use cloth diapers?  How do I wash them?  Everyone has a different routine and what works best for them.  There are a few no nos though.  Like if you’re going to use flats or pre-folds with a snappi, then you have to use a cover over it.  The snappi is not safe for a baby or a small child so aside from of course using the cover to help contain leaks you need it to keep baby safe from the snappi.

When washing diapers under no circumstances should putting them in a dishwasher ever be an option.  I don’t know of anyone who actually does that, but apparently it’s a problem.  So let me make that very clear; DO NOT PUT YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS IN THE DISHWASHER TO WASH THEM!  Now that that is over with let me go through with you what I do with my diapers and what the general rule of thinking is for caring for them.

Use

My daughter at age 9 did the origami fold

First I am going to start out with how to use flats.  This can be scary and overwhelming because of having to fold.  I promise you it is not at all hard to use flats.  As a matter of fact when I started last year my middle daughter who was 9 at the time was very interested in cloth diapering.  She wanted to learn how to do it, so I showed her.  It’s so easy a 9 year old can do it.  Does that make it a little less scary for you now?  Okay, good.

There are several different folds you can use with flats and there are a ton of how tos and videos for each one all over the internet.  You can google search how to fold flats.  I use what’s known as the origami fold.  This fold gives you a large bunch in the middle to help absorb the pee and poop.  I have never used any other fold, but there is the pre-fold fold (where you fold it in quarters like a pre-fold), newspaper fold, angel fold, and much more.  But when I was trying to learn how to fold flats I found a video of a 5 year old doing it.  I figured if a 5 year old could do it, then it would be a piece of cake and it was.  Here’s the video that helped me…

Still afraid of it?  That’s okay there are plenty of other how tos on the internet to help you learn how to fold flats and pre-folds.  A great resource is Green Mountain Diapers.

Flats and pre-folds of course have the most anxiety associated with them.  Pockets, AIOs, AI2s, Hybrids, and Fitteds are all relatively self explanatory.  They all go on like a disposable.  The pockets need to be stuffed with an insert.  AI2s and Hybrids require an insert to be snapped in.  AIOs and Fitteds just go on like a disposable.  You just would need a cover for the Fitteds.

Snaps and Rise

Another source of concern for some is how to use the rise snaps or just snap on the diaper.  Rise snaps are on all diapers that are not specifically sized.  It is used to make it so diapers will last from birth to potty training.  Most pocket diapers are like this, but all of my covers have this feature too.  The rise helps keep everything snug around the legs.  Some diapers have 4 rows of snaps aside from the waist snaps and some have three.  To make them as small as possible you would use the bottom row of snaps on a diaper.  Just pull them up and snap in place.  As your baby grows you might find that it’s getting too snug around the legs and you’ll want to go down a level of rise.  Eventually you will not be using the rise at all.

Now to secure the diaper on you can either have snaps or hook and loop or aplix.  Hook and loop and aplix are basically velcro.  Of course everyone has a preference with snap or hook and loop.  I am a little middle of the road.  I like the snaps because it feels more secure and it lasts longer.  I have found the hook and loop to get a little funky from the wash and it doesn’t last as long.  As a matter of fact I had a hook and loop on my daughter the other night for bed and when I got her out the next morning the cover was on the floor next to her crib.  I don’t know what or how exactly that happened.  She probably took it off.  It couldn’t have been too long because her sheet wasn’t wet at all so I’m thinking she woke up and started to strip.  That is what seems to be the biggest issue people have with the hook and loop is older children have an easier time undoing them.

I like the fit I get with my hook and loop covers.  I think they are the best to have for a newborn.  Obviously a newborn won’t be pulling his diaper off just yet (at least I hope not).  But I definitely find that I can get a nicer fit with the hook and loop.  Especially since my baby girl is such a peanut.

Snaps are harder for children to undo and get out of.  They also last longer and look cleaner.  There are usually two snaps on each side of the diaper.  This helps to hold the flap into place so make sure you snap both snaps on both sides.  Get it as snug as you can without hurting the baby of course.  But you want to make sure that it helps to contain everything.

Care

Now that we know how to use the diapers it’s time to learn about caring for them.  Again, everyone has their own wash routine.  Some wash everyday, some go every other day or more, and some keep enough diapers to actually go a week.  Wash routines are really a matter of trial and error for people to figure out what works best for them.  Of course you should follow manufacturers recommendations for washing diapers, but sometimes it comes down to your washing machine and your detergent.

Let me start out with poop.  If you are exclusively breastfeeding then there is no need to rinse the poo diapers.  Just toss them in your pail or your wet beg and wash with the rest of your diapers.  I promise you no matter what kind of diapers you use it will wash right out.  If you are supplementing with formula or once you start adding other foods the poop will become a little harder than breastfeeding poo.  For this point in time you can either use a diaper sprayer or you can dunk and swish right in the toilet.  Some poop can easily be pushed off right into the toilet, but a lot of times now I have to swish it in the toilet.  It’s not pretty, but it’s preparing you for potty training because you deal with the same thing when your toddler is potty training and poops in his underwear.

I do not have a diaper sprayer.  I have been asking my husband to put one in.  However, we have old plumbing and we rent and my husband is afraid to mess with the pipes.  I can’t say that I blame him.  I have considered getting a shower head that is removable, but I would then need to rinse the diapers out into a bucket and pour it into the toilet.  So I have been using the swish and flush method in the toilet.  Diaper sprayers usually can cost you anywhere from $20-$40, but there are plenty of DIY instructions online to make your own cheaper.  With a sink hose and some clamps I think you can install your own right to your toilet.  So if that’s an option for you, then go for it.

If not, then using the toilet is fine.  For some really bad ones I’ll plop it right into the toilet and leave it for a few.  My husband hates this because if he goes to go to the bathroom and there’s a diaper in the toilet he has to wait for me to get it out.  So I try not to do that very often.  Sometimes I just need to dunk it in the toilet a few times and the poop comes right out.  Sometimes it needs to be flushed a few times (while holding the diaper of course).  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just the bulk of the solid waste needs to be off the diaper.  The washing machine will do the rest of the work.

Wash Routine

Speaking of the wash routine this will all depend on your washing machine and the kind of diapers that you have.  Generally speaking it’s rinse/soak in cold, hot wash, and warm or cold rinse depending on your machine’s capability of course.  So I do a cold soak with Bac Out which helps get rid of the poo and ammonia smell.  I am actually all out of Bac Out so I’ve been using vinegar instead.  Vinegar is also supposed to help soften hard water and help kill germs. We recently had a long lasting issue with a strep/staph infection so the vinegar has helped.  I think we finally got it clear and I want to keep it that way so I’ve been adding the vinegar to the soak.  Wash in hot with some detergent.  I use Tide Free and Clear.  There are numerous different detergents designed specifically for cloth diapers and some won’t use anything else.

For drying I put my flats and any inserts I have in the dryer.  The covers I always hang to dry.  Covers really will last longer if they don’t go through the dryer.  Some WAHM’s might recommend that you run the diaper through the dryer to seal all of the stitching, but after that you’ll probably want to hang the shells to dry.  And if you have a good sized clothes line and a nice sunny day then drying your flats or inserts on the line helps bleach out any stains.  Make sure you get the stained areas in optimal sun though.

Tips: Don’t use too much detergent.  Less is more.  This is especially true if you have an HE washer.  I do not have an HE washer.  As a matter of fact I specifically looked for a non HE washer when I was in the market for a new washing machine this year.  This is not to say HE washers are terrible for diapers, but I have heard of a lot of issues with stink.  So you will need to play around with your wash routine and make sure you are not using too much detergent.  Remember, an HE washer uses less water.  So a little detergent goes a long way.  And never ever use fabric softener or dryer sheets.  Also, knowing if you have hard water or not will be helpful too.  If you have hard water you might want to use a detergent like Planet that is good for hard water.

Prepping/Stripping

You do have to prepare the diapers when you first get them.  If you buy new and especially with synthetic materials you will want to do 5-6 hot washes.  You can also boil them which is only once, but you would need a huge pot to do that in.  If you buy used then just a good wash with some bleach should be good enough to make sure any possible germs are killed.  You need to get the natural oils out to help with the absorbency though.

I have natural cotton flats.  I did not do all of these hot washes.  Just washed them once and there was no problem with absorption.  If you have any sort of synthetic material like fleece or suede inserts that are used in most pocket diapers, then you definitely want to get in as many hot washes as you can.

Stripping is used when there are stink issues or if you are getting rashes.  Basically several hot washes should do the trick.    Do not use detergent when stripping.  The reason you are stripping is because you smell ammonia which is a sign of detergent build up.  So a heavy duty hot wash and when it begins to agitate check the wash.  If you see suds then you are going to want to repeat this until you no longer see suds.

With synthetic materials, which most pocket diapers are, you will first want to soak the diapers in hot water with some Dawn dish soap for about 30 minutes.  Then use a soft scrub brush and give them a good scrubbing.  Once you have done this you can then do the hot wash until you no longer see suds.

For any yeast rashes or infections make sure you wash the diapers with bleach until the rash clears up.  That is the only sure fire way to not reinfect over and over again.

There are steps you can take to make stripping less necessary.  Using the right amount of detergent is important.  If you must use a diaper rash cream, then make sure it’s either safe to use with cloth diapers or you line the diapers.  Viva paper towels make a nice liner.  You don’t usually have to worry about this much with natural materials that are usually found in flats and pre-folds.  It is a much bigger concern with synthetic materials.  The moment you notice any issues though be sure to address it.  The longer you let it go the longer it will take to strip.

Tomorrow be sure to come back to hear about the different laundry detergents you can use.

Be sure to read Cloth Diapering 101: The Diapers.

Cloth Diapering 101: The Diapers

When I was considering cloth diapering my 4th child I went to a friend who had already been doing it for a year and knew her stuff.  She was a wealth of knowledge.  It’s hard to believe, but I am going on cloth diapering for a year so I guess it’s my turn to give back and help out the newbies.  Although, many days I still feel like a newbie.  There is always a new abbreviation in the world of cloth diapering that’s popping up that I’m like, what does that mean?  Good thing I still have my friend to ask so I don’t feel so foolish.  But let me give you the basics that I was given when I started.  There’s a lot of information so I’m going to break this up into four parts.

Different Kinds Of Diapers

Cloth diapers have come a long way over the years.  I know everyone who hears cloth diapers thinks oh yeah pins and folding.  Who would want to go back to that when there are these convenient disposable diapers?  There are many reasons.  The money savings, the saving the earth aspect, and even health aspects that cause people to switch.  But there is so much out there.  Don’t bother asking Grandma either because it’s just not the same as when she was using cloth.

Flats and Prefolds

These are the most like what grandma used to use.  Flats are a square of fabric that you have to fold up and pin on the baby.  You don’t have to use safety pins anymore though.  You can use what’s called a Snappi.  That’s a Y shaped thing that goes on similar to how you would secure an ace bandage.

Pre-folds are a flat already folded and sewn together so you just put baby on the prefold and fold it up around her.  Hold it on with pins or a snappi.

Both need covers.  There are different covers you can use that range greatly in price.  So you need to consider your budget and what your preference is.

Wool: This is the most expensive.  You can get pants or shorties.  These are nice because they are breathable and can be worn over and over again and not smell.  They also are great at preventing leaks.  And I know you think of wool in the winter, but this is something that is great for the summer time as a cover.  They pull on though which can be a turn off to some because it’s a little more work to get them on and off.  Especially off, if baby has pooed.  They need to be prepped before with Lanolin to help with absorbency too.

Fleece: This is less expensive than wool, but similar to it.  A little less work in that it doesn’t have to be prepped.  They breathe, but not quite as well as the wool does.

PUL: This is made with polyurethane laminated fabric.  These covers go on like a disposable diaper.  It’s like rubber pants really and they come in many different colors and designs.  The prices can also range greatly, but for the most part they are cheap.  They can be hand washed and they dry very quickly.  It can be worn over and over again until poo gets on it which is really what makes this method perfect for newborns.

What’s the difference?  Well, pre-folds limit you to where you can place the absorbency.  With flats you can use different folds to get the best fit and absorbency for your baby.  Both of these are great to start out with because they are cheap.  Flats are the cheapest.  If you are going to start cloth diapering from birth, then you know newborns are always peeing and pooping.  As they say, baby’s eat, sleep, and poop.  So you need plenty of diapers to start out with.  3 dozen flats can be purchased for less than $100.  Then you’ll need about 4 covers.  This of course varies in price too, but you can easily get enough diapers to cloth diaper a newborn for under $200.  Some continue on using the flats and/or prefolds as baby gets older and has a little more control over his urination, but some don’t like wrestling a wiggly little one into a flat or pre-fold.

I assure you it’s not so bad.  I started out with flats and that’s still the majority of what I use today with my 16 month old, but there was a time there where I would have loved a stash of diapers that I could just slap on her and go.

Pockets

These seem to be becoming extremely popular.  They have a waterproof shell with a stay dry liner like fleece and come with some sort of microfiber insert.  The appeal of these is that they go on the baby very easily.  Much like a disposable you just put the baby on and snap it shut.  You can stuff it as much as you want though for greater absorbency.  If you stuff too much though then you end up with a very fluffy tush that does not fit in any pants.  Of course baby’s can get away with walking around in just a diaper, but the weather doesn’t always allow that.  They are expensive too.  Starting at $18 for one diaper.  There’s no reusing these until poop gets on them either.  Once baby pees in it it has to be changed.

This is why I said that it’s not the greatest to start out with a newborn.  To have enough to get you through 2 days of cloth diapering you would need at least 24 diapers.  That’s probably pushing it.  At $18 a diaper though that would cost you over $400 to start.  That is the bare minimum of diapers you would need to start out diapering a newborn.  And that doesn’t include purchasing any extra inserts that you might want for greater absorbency.  Like hemp inserts are extremely absorbent and great for over night, but also very pricey.  So unless you get someone to give you a whole bunch of diapers I don’t know too many that this would be an expense they are able to have with all of the other things needed for a new baby.  If you just love the idea of pockets, then starting your stash early and buying used will help create your stash.

AIOs (All In Ones)

These are similar to pockets, but the insert is sewn right in.  So you don’t have to stuff which is great for time saving, but you also can’t adjust the absorbency.

These can be a laundry nightmare.  Because the insert doesn’t come out washing and stink can become an issue.  Also drying takes a while.  I have a couple AIO’s.  I thought these would be great for just quick diaper changes.  I have found that the insert gets bunched up when I wash it.  It seems like it’s uncomfortable on my daughter too.  One of the ones I have I swear it leaks.  The inside won’t feel wet, but yet on the outside she feels damp.  They are priced about the same is pockets with a wide range of prices.

Fitteds

This is another great diaper for newborns or going out and about.  They need a cover just like the prefolds/flats do.  They are good for at night because they are easier to change than the prefolds/flats.  It also goes on like a disposable.  They are sized though so it’s something that won’t last throughout cloth diapering.

The prices on these actually vary greatly.  They can be inexpensive, but then when you get the Goodmamas like someone so generously gave me recently it gets very pricey.  I do love my fitteds though.  The ones I have are very absorbent.  I haven’t had any stink issues with them.  They are very fluffy though.  My usual covers were hard to get good coverage so I have added a few wool covers to my collection and they work great over the fitteds.

AI2s (All In Twos)

This is similar to the AIOs (All In Ones) only the insert isn’t sewn in.  It just snaps in.  So that is a slightly better alternative to the issues with the AIOs, but then again you do still have the extra step of adding the insert.  No stuffing like with pockets, just snapping.

Hybrids

These are very similar to AI2s.  They require a snap in insert.  You use the shell over and over again until you get poo on it.  So you only need a few shells and then a bunch of inserts.  They also have a feature known as a biosoaker.  A disposable liner you can use for traveling.  I have a few GroVia shells that have the snaps in them.  I do not have any inserts.  I use the GroVia as covers over my flats or fitteds.  But I have used biosoakers and it came in handy when my husband had to do diaper changes (because he refuses to do cloth).  I’ve also used them when we have had to be out and about for the day.  This way I didn’t have to carry around wet diapers wherever we went.

My friend who gave me all of this awesome information hated her biosoakers.  Her son wets a lot and she was constantly having to change them.  So as with everything what works for some doesn’t work for others.

There You Have It

So cloth has come a long way over the years.  I have to an extent used each different kind.  Well, not pre-folds and AI2s.  My stash consists of mostly flats.  I have a couple WAHM (Work At Home Mom) pocket diapers and those Goodmamas fitted diapers.  And I love my GroVia hybrids as shells for my flats and then for use with the biosoakers.  My reason for sticking with the flats has a lot to do with cost, but I also like that I can adjust the location of the absorbency.  And lets not forget, that with using covers it’s easy to coordinate with an outfit.  Since the cover can be used over and over again before being washed there’s no problem keeping your child nicely coordinated.

I started cloth diapering when my daughter was 4 months old.  So I missed the newborn issues with diapers, but through trial and error I have found what works best for us.

Check back tomorrow to learn about use and care of your diapers.

What is your top pick for cloth diapers?