Friday, January 2, 2009

Cloth Diapering 101--How I Cloth Diaper

My mom cloth diapered and my mother-in-law cloth diapered. My husband wanted to cloth diaper. Cloth diapering represented a mothering choice to be studied, conquered, and employed. Nobody I knew was cloth diapering at the time, which made it all the more appealing to me.

Logically, it made sense to cloth diaper--it was and is cheaper. But more importantly, we felt it was a call from the Lord. Why? Simply, cloth diapering allows us to be a good steward of our money that God gave us and of the earth He has provided for us to live on and use. Additionally, we are protecting our children from dangerous chemicals leaching into their skin. These are a few of the reasons it made sense to cloth diaper.
Writing this much requested post has proven difficult. There are numerous websites containing great information regarding the cost, variety, and reasons to cloth diaper. Why should I reinvent the wheel? Thus, I have decided to explain "how" we cloth diaper, in the hopes that you will see that it is easy to cloth diaper, and perhaps even addicting. I know that may sound odd--but there is great satisfaction in using cloth.

Hands down, using cloth diapers is cheaper than disposable diapers. It also gets cheaper with each child. My favorite type of cloth diaper is called the Chinese Prefold. It is the true work horse of cloth diapering. There are many fancy cloth diapers out on the market (All-In-Ones or AIOs, fitted diapers that use covers, and pocket diapers), but only the prefold remains the cheapest, most durable, extremely forgiving, absorbant, and virtually leak-proof diaper. I have tried the diapers that include all of the bells and whistles, but with each child I always go back to prefolds. (The stack of diapers on the right have been used for three children, and could be used for another child. (No I am not dropping any hints that Baby #4 is on the way.). By the way, if I am using a fancy diaper, I like Fuzzi Bunz. I have heard the BumGenius are good, too.

Don't think that you can go buy these durable diapers at Babies-R-Us or Walmart. No, you typically need to order them online. (Check out my friends at Toasty Baby. They even offer a cloth diapering service where they will wash your child's diapers for you!) Prefolds are typically $1.50-$2.00/diaper. They come in three sizes: infant, premium and toddler (as shown on the left). Most people only have to buy infant and premium diapers. However, if you have mammoth children like us, you will eventually need to buy toddler prefolds, leading up to potty training. Many people are worried about the Safety Pin to fasten the diaper. Worry no longer! Instead of using Bobby Pins, I use a thing called The Snappi. It works much like an Ace Bandage clip.
To contain the wetness or poop inside the cloth diaper, I typically use a wool cover. There are many to chose from, but I really like the Babyology wool covers found on Ebay. I also have been known to use Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, Kushie Diaper Wrap, or a Prorap Classic. All of them work well and have withstood three children and many washings. The great thing about all of these covers is that you only wash them when they become soiled. You use the cover, let it air out, and use it again. The manufacture states that you can use it up to five times before washing, but I must admit that my covers get used until they either have poop on them or are starting to smell of urine.
Let's talk about wipes. If you use cloth diapers, why on earth would you continue to buy packs of wipes? Thankfully, I am handy at sewing, so I just bought a yard of flannel and made about 30 wipes (per child in diapers). I love having colorful wipes. I have heard that you can save about $300/year by using cloth wipes. I wet my wipes with water and put them in a normal wipe case for outings or in the wipe warmer when we are at home. You can just add water to them or make your own wipe solution .

Perhaps you are wondering, what happens once I take the diaper off. Easy! If you comply with the instructions on the disposable diaper package, why not just go ahead and do cloth diapers? The directions state that you have to dump solid poop out. No big deal! By the way, when your baby is just on mother's milk (and even formula) you don't have to rinse the diaper off before you stick it in the wash,; it comes out in the wash. For example, let's say Babe E has a poopy diaper. I use my cloth wipe to clean his bottom and stick the wipe into the diaper pail. The diaper pail is lined with a water proof bag. I place the poopy diaper in the bucket that you currently see on top of the white pail.
You don't have to buy a fancy diaper pail. I recommend that you get a pail that is actually a trash can with a pedal to lift the lid, when you are in a sticky situation! When you have a chance, grab your bucket, dump the poop into the toilet and flush. Some people actually get diaper showers, but I just get as much poop of off the diaper as I can with either a wipe or toilet paper. I stick the formerly poopy diaper into a medium waterproof bag that I have in the bathroom.
When your diaper pail gets full, wash your diapers! Your washing machine doesn't get dirty either. Mine still looks and smells clean! When your child starts eating solid food and has firm poop, you can line the diaper with a rice paper liner that is biodegradable and can be flushed.
Helpful websites to assist you in cloth diapering:
  • Real Diaper Association diapering facts including the health, environmental, and cost benefits to cloth diapering
  • The Diaper Pin offers answers to frequently asked question such as getting started, washing instructions, diaper pail options, folding of the diaper, securing the diaper, and a cloth diapering dictionary
  • You do the math, calculate the cost difference between cloth and disposable
  • Diaper Kit provides pre-cut diaper fabric and you do the sewing


Tonya said...

For reusable wipes, I use baby washclothes. I got a lot of them at my baby shower. I have used Bum Genius and like them but I agree the prefolds with a cover are the best. I use a cover and do not use a snappi or pins, just the cover. Sometimes a wiggly child will mess up the diaper folding but I can usually fix the diaper after I get the cover closed. I just found Thirsties diaper covers and I really like them, they come in lots of different colors and are affordable.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I am just working my way through your archives. ;)

We use Bum Genius for my daughter and love them. We also use baby wash cloths for wipes, but I like your idea of using flannel.

Blessed Mamma said...

After my fourth baby I recently decided to try cloth diapering. I purchased a few different types of insert diapers and AIOs - and enjoyed the simplicity and "newness" of the whole thing. However I'm really beginning to question whether it really saves any money or not.

I can diaper my daughter for around $15-17 per month uses Luvs diapers, and I was having to wash diapers every other day which probably cost me around $15 per month for water, electricity, and detergent (not to mention the start up cost of the diapers). And while I might be willing to do the extra work of cloth diapering if it truly was much better for the environment, but I question whether it is better to put diapers in a landfill or to use water and electricity. Thoughts?