Let’s Talk Sh!t: Cloth Diapers

So before you write me off as a tree-hugger or hippie or granola person, please know that although I do love trees and the environment and granola (note: I do NOT love hippies), I really value cost and expediency MORE than any of these things. I’ll do my part and recycle and compost and eat organic and make my own granola occasionally, (Ok, that’s a lie. I make my mom make it for me.) I am not all that committed to the lifestyle. I mean, how much for an organic, cage-free chicken? Give me the sad, imprisoned, beakless chicken, please. Good Lord!

So if I am neither super environmental or granola, why did I choose cloth diapers? I chose cloth diapers mainly for two reason: the idea of my kids’ poop and pee sitting in a landfill a bjillion years from now was kinda gross, and the cost of buying disposable diapers for FOUR kids (I had plans, man!) until potty training made me ill. (A box of 120 newborn diapers is $40 – and as the babies get bigger, the diapers in a box get fewer but the pricing stays the same.) So, I threw down about $3-400 on a bunch of cloth diapers and accessories and watched YouTube videos and practiced cloth diapering my teddy bear. (Yes, it’s true. No, there is no video.)

I was pretty chicken about it with Cookie Monster because hey, disposable diapers are HANDY and he was my first so I was trying to get the hang of a lot of stuff, but after about two months, I bit the bullet and started using the cloth diapers. After all, I paid a lot of money for them, I was at least going to try. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that much more difficult than disposable diapers and even Hapa Papa went along with it. Of course, there was a learning curve (on lack of sleep, too!), but now after 3.5+ years and two babies, it’s second nature.

At first, I would only use cloth diapers at home and switch to disposables outside. But then I got annoyed at having so many left over disposable diapers in my hall closet that I just put my big girl panties on and started using cloth diapers outside, too. Except for when we travel or for overnight, I pretty much always use cloth diapers. (See, I’m flexible! I’m not a cloth diaper Nazi!)

Also, I must say, one side benefit of using cloth diapers is that when other moms see you using them, they think you’re a saint or just an awesome mom because they think it takes so much work. I admit, it strokes my ego and I feel somewhat smug. (You try avoiding that feeling when you are a competitive jackass by nature.) But I try to disabuse them of the notion because I like cloth diapers and I think more people should use them (just for the cost savings and fewer poosplosions!).

I wash the diapers every 2-3 days on the Sanitize with an extra rinse setting on my fancy washer and then throw them in the dryer. Someone actually thought I hand-washed the diapers. If I had to hand-wash cloth diapers, I guarantee you, I would either become one of those Elimination Communication people or I would cough up the money for disposables. I am not hand-washing shit. (Pun intended!) That’s it.

Since I do laundry almost every day (how did this become my life??), I barely notice the “extra” work.

Disclaimer: By no means am I an expert on cloth diapering. I have pretty much only used Chinese/Indian pre-folds with a diaper cover and Snappi. That’s it. If you’re looking for reviews on All-In-Ones (AIOs) or different brands or pocket diapers, etc., this is NOT what you want to read.

However, if you are interested in what I’ve done for my first two children (and intend to do for my third), then by all means, continue! This will be the most brilliant and helpful and awesome thing you’ve ever read! (YMMV) Also, I am not being compensated by any site (other than Amazon affiliate links if someone should so choose to buy from my links). Personally, I bought most of my original supplies from nickisdiapers.com.

So, here is what I use (My total initial outlay was about $3-400):

Chinese/Indian Pre-folds (24 newborn sizes, 24 infant sizes, 6 organic infant sizes, 24 organic toddler sizes)

– These are just rectangular cloth diapers with an absorbent pad already sewn in. They are not waterproof and require a diaper cover. They recommend 1-2 dozen in order to avoid washing diapers every single day.

– I have also used these as burp cloths (much better than the crappy ones you buy from stores that just allow whatever spit up to slide onto the floor).

– I would buy the THICKEST available (usually 4x8x4) so that they are more absorbent and you don’t have to change the diapers as often.

– I also chose pre-folds because they were the cheapest and didn’t depend so much on how your particular kid’s butt is shaped. The AIOs I found would work better or worse depending on your kid, and I didn’t have the patience or time or money to figure out which worked. This, of course, does NOT mean that they are not perfectly reasonable options.

– In retrospect, you could most likely do just fine with the infant sized diapers. I bought the newborn sizes because I didn’t want to spend time folding and re-folding down to a smaller size. I used those until my kids hit ~13lbs then switched to the infant sizes. I bought the toddler sizes because Cookie Monster was tall and he was getting too many poosplosions in the infant sizes when he hit 2ish. It also made it easier for me to have Gamera in infant and Cookie Monster in toddler sizes so I didn’t have to wash them every day.

– $1.75/each or $15/dozen

Waterproof Diaper cover (8 one-size diaper covers from Blueberry – fits from infant to toddler)

– I chose the Blueberry ones because I liked their designs. I haven’t found them to be much of a problem even though I purchased it based on such a shallow reason. Furthermore, I like how I didn’t have to buy various sized diaper covers – these can adjust to three different sizes and I’ve never had a problem with fit.

– Some folks prefer snaps (because allegedly, they last longer, but I never really liked them because I feel as if they are less flexible in sizing and can tear the cover due to straining), I prefer the hook and loop kind (ie: Velcro).

– They recommend 6-8 covers for a child. I started with 6 and bought two more for Gamera when she as born. I thought she should have something new – plus, I had a period where the kids overlapped in diapers. Once Cookie Monster was potty-trained, 8 diaper covers became incredibly superfluous. I mostly just rotate 3-4 of them at a time.

– $12-18/diaper cover

Diaper liner

– These are just thin, flushable liners that I put on my cloth diapers to make it a bit easier to remove poop from the diapers and drop them in the toilet.

– I only tend to start using these once my baby starts on solids. For breastmilk poop, I don’t do anything with it because it’s water-soluble and I wash it out in my washing machine (on Sanitize, of course).

– $27/6pack

Snappi

– These are super handy little hooks that hold the diaper in place. They can rip out seams pretty easily so be careful around your bedding or clothing. But on the whole, much easier to secure a diaper in place than actual safety pins. I thought I could get away without them with my firstborn, but once I started using them, poosplosions ALSO stopped. Made cloth diapering that much easier because I didn’t have to constantly wash the diaper covers.

– $8-15

Diaper Pail Liner

– Reusable, washable diaper pail/waste can liner that holds soiled cloth diapers

– I use mine in conjunction with an automatic garbage can with a lid lined with the liner

– I have never had a problem with smell, leakage, or general ickiness. The liner has lasted 3.5 years (and counting).

– $15-20

Wet/Dry Diaper Bag

– I use this to hold clean cloth diapers/liners/covers as well as store the used, soiled diapers. There are two pockets: one for the wet stuff and one for the dry stuff.

– I have found this bag to be incredibly useful. But only if you plan on using cloth diapers when you’re out of the house. Some people I know only use cloth at home and disposables when they’re out. I used to do that but eventually, I thought it was a waste of money so I am pretty much always cloth diaper except at night and when we travel out of town.

– $20-25

Diaper Sprayer

– I very rarely used this, but when I did need it, I found it invaluable. Mostly, I used this when my babies were just starting solids and their poop was super sticky and pasty and splattered all over the place. The diaper liner would get rid of some of it, but not all of it. Once past that stage, I don’t use it much. It’s a lot of money, but for the most part, worth it for when you need it.

– $50-70

Cloth Diaper Inserts

– I really only used these when the babies were newborns and didn’t sleep through the night (or just started to). It made the diapers more absorbent but also incredibly unwieldy and thick. I would put one or two in so that Gamera wouldn’t wake up due to wetness. But by 4-5 months, I think I only used it for naps and since she had already started sleeping 10-12 hours, I used disposable overnight diapers instead.

– Some women also use these as menstrual pads, but I don’t think I will be doing that. Yet. Who knows. I could get more granola as time goes by.

– $8-10/each

That’s it. I take out a pre-fold, put on a liner, put it on my kid and secure with a Snappi, and then put on the diaper cover. It takes about as much time as a disposable. If Hapa Papa can do it (and has been for 3.5+ years, 2 kids and counting), then so can you.

I usually wash diapers every 2-3 days on Sanitize and add white vinegar to strip the cloth diapers of any buildup (if you used a diaper cream for a rash or whatever) and generally, make it soft and more absorbent. Then I toss them in the dryer. If there are stains and you care about that, line dry in the sun. The sun will naturally bleach the stains out.

Although my cloth diapers are now starting to fray, that is mostly a cosmetic issue and hasn’t affected overall performance and quality. After 3.5+ years and 2 kids thus far, I think that’s pretty good. I’ve lent out the infant sizes at least once so those have gone through three babies thus far, but since it’s for such a short duration, it hasn’t affected the wear and tear much. I usually start once the umbilical cord falls off (at 2-3 weeks) and then it’s pretty much all cloth diapers until they require overnight diapers.

Clearly that was my opinion and how I use cloth diapers. What about you? Did you use cloth diapers? Why or why not? Did you start then stop? Use a diaper service? (I didn’t because that cut into the monetary savings.) Let me know in the comments. 😀

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