I was inspired to write what our cloth diapering system is after reading Kathleen’s over at Becoming Peculiar. She did she a good job laying it out so that you could see, its not a big deal to cloth diaper, so I wanted to do the same! Mysterious, maybe, but no big deal.
Like Kathleen, we have literally used all types of cloth diapers. Probably the most overwhelming thing about cloth diapers is that because they have “advanced” so much from what our mothers had, there are a lot of choices. And too much choice can be paralyzing! I have appreciated different types of cloth diapers during different phases of babydom and I’m glad we didn’t get all of one type since I also appreciate having different types throughout the day. Some of our diapers were gifted, some were bought on Craigslist, and some were bought new. Here’s how I use our diapers:
Around the house: My favorite for around the house are covers with prefolds or fitteds. They are easiest to wash and I can take the little bit more time to line up the prefold in the cover in the comfort of my own home (or the time it takes to put on a fitted and a cover). Prefolds were the cheapest to buy (Craigslist!) and look like they will hold up the longest. One thing to note here is that I like using prefolds as inserts, instead of with the snappy. We used the snappy when Sam was little, and it was ok, but using it as an insert with a cover is so much easier and just as effective. Live and learn!
Prefold with a cover and a fitted (I use these with covers too)
Day Outings: This is where I appreciate the all-in-ones, pockets, and hybrids. They are no harder to get on than disposables and since they are all in one piece when you take them out of the diaper bag, they are the simplest to use! I also really, really love the hybrids, where the insert snaps in instead of just laying there or stuffing into a pocket. It saves you a bit of prep time and is good for wiggly babies on the go!
All in one and a hybrid with extra insert
Night-time: During the night you want a diaper that will hold up without leaking for up to 12 hours. At least I do. I like pocket diapers and fitted diapers for this reason. In particular, I like Bum Genius 4.0 Pockets, with a hemp doubler. Not all pockets are created equal but whatever material this stay dry material is, it really keeps the baby booty soft and dry all night. It may be bulky but its nighttime, so it doesn’t matter! Also, fitteds with an extra insert and a cover is bulletproof.
Fitted with cover and a double stuffed Bum Genius pocket
Newborn: We were gifted many disposables from our shower (despite requesting cloth diapers. oh well!), so we used those primarily for the first month. For this reason, I did not buy newborn diapers. With an almost 8 lb baby that grew really quickly, size small worked well enough. I started trying the cloth around 2 weeks just to test it out, but no pressure on myself. I really liked that system and will probably do that again, since there was no way I was doing laundry 3 days after giving birth! I liked it so much we ended up donating a lot of the disposables we were given instead of using them up!
We used sized covers in the beginning with prefolds and inserts, although newborn poo goes everywhere so we easily used up the 6 small covers we had in a day (whereas now I can easily only need 3 covers going that route!). Most of our diapers were “one size” which really means they have to be at least 10 pounds, so I would definitely recommend getting a set of size small diapers so you can jump right in!
Sam at 2 weeks with his first cloth, a size small cover.
Same cover at 6 weeks. He used these until about 4 months old.
Our bathroom was made for cloth diapering! We have an extra long space on our counter that is perfect diaper changing height where we just plopped a changing pad.
We have a (gifted) diaper holder that I hold our cloth in on the left and a basket for our wipes and extra inserts on the right. I have our diapers organized by type so I can see if we are running out very easily. The ones I don’t like (and plan to sell on Craigslist shortly) are hiding in the pocket underneath since they are a last resort diaper. We got a huge Costco case of wipes as a shower gift, so although I planned to use cloth wipes, we used those up first. That took 7 months! So we’re just now using cloth wipes full time. I did try to use cloth wipes with a wipes warmer a friend gave us for a few weeks and had mixed results. Sam didn’t really seem to care so I stopped using that.
We also keep the extra inserts underneath so they are stacked and folded, ready to go.
Dirty diapers go right on in that hanging wet bag and the zipper keeps in the smell. One wetbag holds about enough diapers for two days, which is also all that our machine can take at a time, so its the perfect size to say “hey lazy, do some laundry.” We have two bags that go on rotation. We also have diaper sprayer on our toilet to get off the big boy poo that Sam has just started to have. We also have flushable diaper liners, but his poo hasn’t been solid enough for those to be effective yet. Hopefully soon :)
WashingThis is where I get real with you.
Initially, washing was a breeze. Even with newborn poo. because its totally water soluble. I would wash on a normal cycle in our HE machines with the recommended amount of additive free soap and dry on a line on our deck. This lasted for the first two months. Then I started having leaking/repelling issues and I couldn’t figure out why, since I had done nothing different. And then the diapers started smelling after just a bit of pee. Like ammonia. Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming.
However, after a bit of research, I finally concluded that it was because southern California water is very hard (read: lots of extra minerals in the water that don’t wash out). Its those same minerals that make your hair dull and hard to get clean, and why everyone spends lots of money on water softeners down here every year. Well, we don’t have further treatment or a water softener at our house, so I had to change things up. Our wash routine now looks like this:
- Normal wash cycle on cold, no soap, NO SPIN (this is essential to trick the energy saving machine that I have a heavier load than normal so it adds even more water the next time! Take that, water saving machine!).
- Normal wash cycle with auto soak and a second rinse, 2 tbsps detergent (we use Rockin Green) on hot, with spin.
About every third wash I also add in a capful of Calgon water softener, just to make sure I don’t get that buildup happening again. Per Rockin’ Green’s directions, I have also let the diapers soak longer, for a few hours to up to over night. The “auto soak” function is about only 30 min. so every once in a while I’ll soak them longer.
So yes, my washing routine got a little more complicated. But l have clean diapers. And the good news is that if you have a regular washing machine it shouldn’t be that much different, I just think the combo HE/hard water one is a tough one.
We have a line on the back deck to dry the diapers. The sun immediately gets out any stains and I guess being in California, we really have no excuse not to use it! So, extra washing time, yes, but drying is freeeee!
Going out When I started cloth diapering, I honestly thought I would use disposables when we went out of the house. I really didn’t expect cloth diapering to be so easy. Seriously, I just grab a hybrid, an extra insert, a wet bag, and we’re good to go!
Here’s a total list of the items I have:
- Two hanging wet bags
- Two smaller wet bags for outings
- For when he was small: 5 newborn prefolds, 6 size small Thirsties covers, 2 Thirsties small inserts
- 3 all in ones (Grovia and Tots Bots Easy Fit)
- 4 one size Bum Genius 4.0 pockets (2 snaps, 2 velco. wish I would have gotten all snaps! they do hold up better)
- 5 small doublers, a few brands of hemp ones
- 2 large hemp doublers
- 4 one size Fuzzibuns pockets (not my favorite…see below)
- 2 fitteds Motherease Sandys, size Small (would love more of these in large! but for now he still fits the small)
- 9 covers: 5 Flip covers and 4 Grovia hybrid shells (all one size – I have liked the one size once he was big enough since baby proportions change over time!)
- 25 inserts: 14 prefolds, 3 Thirsties large inserts, and 8 Grovia snap-in inserts
- 20 wipes, flannel, baby wash cloths, and Thirsties fab wipes.
- 1 spray bottle with water, drop of baby oil, drop of baby shampoo for wipes solution.
This is a really good size stash for me right now, although I would love some larger fitteds!. Between what I bought new, used, and was gifted, I spent about $500, including the wetbags.
For me, pocket diapers. Most pockets have fleece and that just really does not wash well in this hard water. I have a three Oh Katy diapers a saleswoman really sold me on and really, I could do without my Fuzzibuns too. I also bought 2 Bonnibums from Babysteals one day. There is a reason those diapers are on there so frequently!! Anyway, I hope to resell them on Craigslist for pretty cheap. Either that or I’ll just use them for covers.
Anyway, I hope that helps someone out there. My best advice would be to get a few different styles because different types work for different things. Happy cloth diapering!