The obligatory cloth diaper post

Read almost any green mama-blog and eventually you’re sure to find a post about cloth diapering.  I’m sure there are many people who wonder how on earth you would find enough to write about on such a subject…but believe me, there’s plenty and other cloth diapering mamas just eat it up!  I, for one, love reading about other mama’s cloth diapering systems and what they do and don’t like…so I’ve decided to write my own post on it.  (If you’re not a cloth diapering mama, and therefore not interested, I won’t be offended if you totally skip this post. *smile*)

Unlike a lot of others that I’ve read about, we didn’t really have a “journey” to cloth diapering. Before I was married, the friends I was living with in New Zealand used cloth diapers and even though I had heard of cloth diapers before (supposedly I wore them for most of my babyhood), that was the first place where I actually used some.  It became just matter of course to use them and after I was married and found out we were expecting our first, there wasn’t even any question that we would use them (obviously after I made sure Aaron was on board too).

There was then the question of which cloth diapers we would use and that’s when I discovered the myriad of options out there.  I spent a lot of my morning sickness down time researching all the different types and brands.  I eventually decided on using the basic system of prefolds and covers (which I was partial to since that’s what we had used in NZ), and if need be, having something a little easier to use for when we were out.  The basics of this system hasn’t changed in the eighteen months that we’ve been cloth diapering (and now we have two in cloth diapers…but we’re hoping to start potty training Cedar in the next several months), but the specifics have somewhat.

What I Use

As I stated earlier, we mostly use prefolds and covers.  Before Cedar was born, I bought two dozen each of infant and premium Indian prefolds.  For covers, we were going to use Thirsties Duo Wraps, so I bought six each of Size One and Size Two.  I loved that the Duos were a two-size system meaning that I only needed to buy two sizes (which are adjusted using snaps) from birth to potty-training instead of three or four.  Saved us money and simplified our system.  The Size One Duos are supposed to fit up until nine months, but due to his chubbiness, Cedar grew out of his at around four or five months.  This wasn’t really a problem as he just started wearing the Size Twos and now, at 18 months, he’s still in the middle snap setting for those.

Up until a couple months ago, we loved the Duos…they did really well at containing messy diapers, were easy to use, etc.  But then I noticed that the Size Twos, which we had been using for about a year, were starting to leak some when wet.  Upon inspection, I discovered the the waterproofing layer on the PUL (the waterproof material that most diaper covers are made of) was starting to come apart…thus the leaks.  This problem only got worse as time went on and we knew we’d  need to get more covers soon as these definitely weren’t doing their job!  We had hoped that the Duos would last longer than just a year, so we decided to try another two-size cover (which, interestingly enough, I had come very close to buying when I was originally starting our stash) and see how it held up.  We got our first couple Blueberry Coveralls about two months ago and we love them!  Obviously only time will tell if they hold up better than the Duos (ask me in about ten months!), but the PUL they’re made of seems thicker and of better quality so I have hopes that they’ll last longer.  And, they have some really cute prints…giraffes, anyone?!

(September 2013 update: Because Genoa ended up wearing the Size One Duos for much longer than Cedar did, by the time Avila was born, we needed some new little covers.  This time around I ended up trying Swaddlebees/Blueberry Capri covers and loved them!  The Capris are also a two-size cover, but seem to fit a tad trimmer than the Coveralls.  Right now our stash is a mixture of Thirsties Duos, Blueberry Coveralls and Blueberry Capris,)

While we use prefolds and covers the majority of the time, I am not a fan of trying to Snappi a prefold on a squirming baby on the front seat of a car, so I wanted an easier option for when we were out and about.  For Cedar’s first year, we used the GroVia (then, GroBaby) shell and soaker combo and really liked them.  However, even though they’re touted to fit from birth to potty-training, Cedar outgrew them at about a year and so we needed to look for a different system.  I wanted something  that we could use with the covers we already had and so we tried the Thirsties Stay Dry Duo Insert.  So far (in the six months or so that we’ve used them), they work great and helped to streamline our system even more.

For dealing with wet or dirty diapers while we’re out, I mainly use our Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag and it works very well.  We’ve never had a problem with it leaking wetness into the diaper bag.  We did have a problem with it leaking smells though (and honestly, I’ve never seen a wet bag that completely seals them in!) and so I recently bought  a wee-be-gone patch to try.  Supposedly these patches absorb the compound that cause the ammonia-like smell in wet diapers.  It sounded a little far-fetched, but after using it for several outings…it actually works!  I honestly was very surprised, but am very thankful since I didn’t like my entire diaper bag smelling like a wet diaper!

For night-time diapering, we used to use some FuzziBunz One-Size pocket diapers, but then Cedar started having issues with raw spots from those (I’ve never heard of anyone else having that problem with these diapers though and before that happened, we loved them for night-time).  Now we use a bumGenius Stay-Dry Doubler inside of the prefold/cover combo and it works great.  YAY for streamlining even more!  (Note: because the doubler can be bulky, I didn’t start using it in Genoa’s night-time diaper until a couple days ago, when she was about eight weeks old.)

In my opinion, using cloth wipes when you cloth diaper is pretty much a no-brainer.  I love the convenience of being able to toss everything in the diaper pail instead of trying to fish the wipes out of a messy diaper and figuring out where to dispose of them.  For two in diapers, washing every other day, we have two dozen bumGenius bamboo terry wipes, just under three dozen wipes a friend made for me out of some bamboo double terry material and six extra heavy duty homemade ones.

Use and Care

For us, using cloth diapers is quite simple.  We keep prefolds, covers, doublers, wipes and liners (to put between the baby and the diaper if we’re using a zinc-based diaper cream) in two square baskets on the top of our dresser.  The basket with the wipes in it also has an extra wide-mouth quart-sized jar that we keep filled with water with a squirt of baby wash in it.  If you need a wipe, just grab one, dunk it in the jar and you’re good to go.  All wet or soiled diapers and wipes go into our diaper pail: a plastic, lidded trash can lined with a nylon laundry sack.  Every other day (it used to be every three days before Genoa was born), everything (including the laundry sack) gets thrown into our front-loading washing machine.  I do a cold wash, and then a hot wash with Nellie’s Laundry Soda.  (After a progression from soap nuts to Rockin’ Green to Nellie’s…it’s what we’ve been using for awhile and I love how clean it gets the diapers.)  On sunny days, I try to hang the diapers outside to dry…they get sun-bleached and smell so good when they come off the line.  The prefolds are usually pretty stiff from drying outside, but I just toss them into the dryer on low (since you don’t actually need the heat, just the tossing) for about 15 minutes and they’re much softer.  If I’m not hanging everything outside, I usually try to dry the covers on our shower curtain rod so that the PUL stays in better condition longer.

If a baby is exclusively breastfed, dirty diapers can go straight into the diaper pail.  However, once the baby starts eating solids, the poo needs to be rinsed off the diapers.  In New Zealand, we just rinsed the diapers in the toilet by flushing it.  However, if we were going to use cloth diapers, Aaron really wanted a diaper sprayer…and I’m so glad we have it!  Certainly not a cloth diapering necessity, but if you’re planning on cloth diapering several babies through toddlerhood, it’s a definite time-saver.

This isn’t specifically related to cloth diapers, but I wanted to put a plug in for my absolute favourite diaper cream ever…Graham Gardens’ Tailfeathers Zinc Cream!  Both Cedar and Genoa have really sensitive skin and therefore develop diaper rashes quite easily.  I went through several different zinc-based creams (they were the only kind that would work), not really liking different aspects of them.  For awhile I really liked Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment, but it wouldn’t kick a particularly stubborn rash that Cedar had so I went looking again…and found Tailfeathers.  It’s rather expensive for a diaper cream ($16 for a 5 oz. tub), but, in my opinion, worth every penny!  One of my favourite features about it (other than the fact that it’s ended up helping heal every rash I’ve put it on) is that it’s in a tub…so much easier to get just the amount you need and you can use every last bit of it…something that doesn’t happen when you have diaper cream in a tube (and one of my major issues with the Burt’s Bees one).  So anyway…it’s not as well-known as other diaper creams, but I highly recommend it!

Well, this is turning out to be one of the longest posts I’ve ever written…and I don’t really have much more to say about cloth diapers anyway…other than…I love them!

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6 thoughts on “The obligatory cloth diaper post

  1. The last few months, Hans used prefolds and Not-So-Flat-Wraps (hard to describe, but NSFWs function as a fastener for the prefolds, via a snapping non-elasticized wrap) under covers, and I LOVED the simplicity, and not having to stuff diapers! The system just isn’t feasible for the really young stage, though. Both my babies (especially Hans!) were squirters. Every. Single. Poop. Was a trumpet and a splash. The only thing that kept it in was double elastic (elastic for a fitted and a gusseted cover). No prefold ever held it, even special folds like the scroll roll. But once they get over that, I LOVE prefolds. Much simpler.

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