I love talking about all things baby. So I’m just going to jump at the chance to discuss the cloth diapering at Lee’s request. This post assumes no prior knowledge of the state of cloth diapering today, and then discusses my personal system and preferences. So it’s pretty long, and may not be interesting to some, hence the cutting and the “click to read more:”
I really don’t know what made me decide to start looking into cloth for our kid, but I had been reading Kerflop for some time, and due to the nature of her business, I happened upon the information that cloth diapers are no longer the rags, pins and rubber pants of the past. They have become cuter and easier. Additionally, cloth is so much better for the environment and for babies’ bums. I won’t get into all that, but www.diaperpin.com is a good place to start with the reading.
There are so many options now with cloth. I was drawn in by the adorable prints and various convenient cuts initially. But when I went to begin our own diaper stash, I decided to start simple. And cheap. So I went with basic prefolds and covers. Prefold diapers are your old dust rags and burp cloths. They’re rectangular, stitched in thirds the long way, with extra layers in the center for more absorbency. There are a few types of prefolds to choose from, too, though, and we went with unbleached Chinese, diaper service quality cotton. You can also get bleached, Indian, hemp or some combination of all these attributes. There might even be more types that I’ve forgotten about. I learned through my travels around the ‘net that the Gerber cloth diapers you can actually find in some stores are only really good for burp cloths and dust rags, and totally suck when actually used as diapers. So I ordered online from Diaper Safari.
Now, because they’re just cotton, the prefolds need a waterproof layer over them. You can still get vinyl or plastic pants, but there are far softer, cuter and easier alternatives. I got a couple of Prowraps, a couple Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, and a couple of Thirsties. The Prowraps worked great when M was brand new, the way they sat didn’t irritate the umbilical stump as much as the Bummis. Now that he’s grown a little more, though, I love the Bummis. They are my current favorite, but I do also like the Thirsties. The Thirsties small size is still a little big on him, but they are a little bit lighter weight material with similar hook-and-loop (Velcro) tabs to the Bummis, and leg gussets like the Prowrap. Best of both in the Thirsties, I think. One thing I don’t like about the Prowrap is the lack of laundry tabs because they seem to be the covers that have gotten the most beat up in the wash.
I also must mention the pin alternative. They are called Snappis, and they’re a Y-shaped band of rubber with teeth on each end. The teeth grip both sides of the diaper and also the center, which holds the prefold securely in place without any worry of drawing blood. Your or baby’s.
So that’s our main system. We snappi the prefolds around his little butt, wrap him in the cover and we’re all set. We’ve only had a couple of real blowouts, and no leaks so far. Even James brags about how easy it is.
But there’s more. I also wanted an option in case of cloth-wary caregivers. So I looked into all-in-ones and pockets. An all-in-one needs no extra cover, no folding, no pinning. It’s a whole diaper as similar to a disposable as you can get. I didn’t get any all-in-ones, however, because I heard that they take awhile to dry and may not hold up as well as some other options, etc. So I went with pockets instead. A pocket is almost the same as an all-in-one except that you have to stuff (and unstuff) the absorbent material inside. So it’s two pieces, which helps it dry faster and also makes it customizable for day or night, heavy wetter or light.
There are tons of different pockets and all-in-ones. So I ordered a few different ones to see what we’d like. Here’s what I have: Fuzzi Bunz, Happy Heiny, BumGenius and Blueberry. Most of these run a little big, so we’ve only just recently started trying them out. I just got the Blueberry, so we haven’t used that one yet, though I can say that prepping the hemp insert was kind of a pain (I boiled it and my pot kept boiling over until I realized, duh, maybe I shouldn’t have the heat up so high). I like the Fuzzi Bunz, and I thought that the snaps would be kind of awkward because they might not make for the same snug fit you can get with hook-and-loop. But with the elastic at the back, I don’t think that will really be an issue at all. Fuzzi Bunz has just revamped their design, which has gotten mixed reviews so far. I have a Happy Heiny in both small and one-size. The small setting on the one-size is still too big for my boy, so we’ve only tried the sized version. The main reason I wanted a Happy Heiny was because of how incredibly adorable the prints were. And they have the largest variety of prints I’ve seen from any of the other guys. The diaper works well enough, although the closure tabs are a little bit large and awkwardly shaped. My favorite so far is the BumGenius 2.o One-Size. BumGenius has also very recently come out with a new one-size pocket design (3.0), which is said to improve the design even further. What I like about the BumGenius s the way it fits, the flap on the inside that covers the opening where you stuff the insert, and the small round closure tabs, which hold very securely and even allow for overlap on a skinny little guy
In the future when I can afford it, I’ll probably invest in a few more of the BumGenius for sure. I love that you can use them from infancy through potty training, and I hear that comes in especially handy when you have two or more in diapers (i.e. you don’t have to worry about grabbing the right size as your kid tries to fling himself off the changing table). I’d like to see the BumGenius in prints instead of just their standard six solid colors, but most of the time, our boy’s wearing clothes over his diapers anyway, so it doesn’t really matter much at all.
As for M, because of the soft fleece inside the pocket diapers, he can go a little longer before wanting to be changed, which is why we’ve been mostly using those at night. He still complains pretty much right away in the prefolds, though the addition of a scrap of cut fleece inside would probably make him feel a little drier and more comfortable. I’ll be searching our closets in the near future for something suitable to cut up for that purpose.
Are you wondering about the extra washing, storage, and stink? For our system, we have a Wahmies pail liner in a cheap plastic covered kitchen trash can. I don’t put any deodorizer in there or on the tab on the bag, and I don’t rinse or soak any dirties. I’m breastfeeding, so the poop doesn’t smell horrible, and it’s still pure liquid, so there’s really nothing to have to dump out in the toilet. We just toss all soiled diapers in the dry pail until washing. About every other day, I take the bag, empty it into the washer, toss it in, add a scoop of Charlie’s Soap powder and sometimes a bit of vinegar in the fabric softener slot. I wash on the “Heavy Wash” setting, hot water, extra rinse. Then toss everything in the dryer. There are a lot of different detergents that are fine for diapers, but some additives and fabric softener can cause buildup, which affects their absorbency. Out and about, we have a small or large “wet bag” (depending on length of outing) that just holds the dirties until we get home and throw them in the pail.
So there you have my cloth diaper adventures so far. I’m sure we’ll figure out a few things as we go, such as the world of solid poo, but it really is so easy that I honestly don’t understand why some of the folks I know think I’m crazy. I guess I’d rather do extra laundry than take out extra trash. But maybe that’s just me.