I have spoken with many expecting parents who want to do cloth diapering but don’t know where to begin. Moreover, they are worried it will be too much work, but once you have your system down, it is really quite easy!
Here are some resources to get you started and feeling comfortable with cloth:
I am so excited to be a part of the Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year. This amazing ten day event represents a massive effort from over 40 bloggers to provide the best advice on celebrating all of those firsts of a baby’s first year. Today we are talking about Taking Care of New Babies.
There is something so yummy, so kissable, so squishable about kids. One of my favorite bloggers (and mompreneurs) knows all about this: Lisa from The Squishable Baby has three little “squishes” of her own, and they are the inspiration for her blog and her clothing designs.
In her spare time – don’t know where she finds it! – Lisa hand dyes and sews Merino wool and bamboo pants for babies. They are soft but durable and made out of sustainable materials. Win-win for your little one and the planet!
When Lisa found out I had a baby, she was kind enough to send me two pairs of handmade pants – one wool, and one bamboo. I was wowed by how well-made the pants were. I was also amazed that they could be so utterly soft and yet tough enough to stand up to all the roly-poly activity babies will put them through.
And, as you can see, they are adorable!
So I am thrilled to get to participate in an incredible giveaway that Lisa is running. Don’t miss your chance to win this amazing, no – ultimate stash of goods from The Squishable Baby!
Enter below for a chance to win:
1 pair of Hadyn Merino Wool Longies in your color of choice.
1 pair of Arlo Merino Wool Shorties in your size and color of choice.
1 pair of Alice Bamboo Longies in your size and color of choice.
1 pair of Isla Bamboo Shorites in your size and color of choice.
2 Sonnet Meriono Soakers in your color and size of choice
4 Merino wool diaper liners
A set of 10 bamboo wipes
The winner will be given a few extra surprises in the prize package!
This is a once in a lifetime giveaway!
This prize is valued at over $150.00
This prize package is perfect whether you are, or are not, cloth diapering! Longies and shorties can be worn as regular pants. Substitute the diaper liners and soakers for extra bamboo goodness.
The super soft and squishy Merino Wool longies/shorties works perfectly as a cloth diaper cover!
The soft Merino Wool diaper liners make nighttime diapering a breeze. They make diapers bullet proof, and they can be washed on hot right along with your diapers!
I’ve been using cloth diapers for over six years now! The layout above is what I used with my two middle children – these days I use flats and Thirsties covers, and you can read more about that cloth diapering system here.
I do care a lot about the environment, but my original reason for trying cloth was selfish. My oldest child’s diapers were constantly leaking, and I figured that, if I was going to wash her outfit every diaper change, I might as well wash the diapers as well. Plus, cloth diapers are cute! I ordered a set of Happy Heiny diapers. They worked great during the day, not so well at night (love my Thirsties covers for night time). They solved the diaper blow-out problem, and my daughter seemed much more comfortable in them! I eventually switched over from velcro to snaps, because snaps are harder to undo and they don’t get stuff caught in them in the wash. I started off using pocket diapers, because they seemed fairly economical but still can be put on just like disposables. With baby #4 I use flats, because they seem to work better, are easier to get clean, and dry super quickly. You can make your own baby wipes, and I’ve switched from pastels to bright colored covers, because bright colors make me happy.
Here are a the main benefits we’ve found from using cloth:
More comfortable. Would you rather wear paper clothes, or fabric clothes?
More economical. Many of my diapers were used for multiple children. I bought new diapers for my youngest, but the flats and covers are still much less expensive than disposables.
Fewer blow-outs. I’ve had only two minor blow-outs with my youngest, and several diapers that would have been blow-outs if she were wearing a disposable diaper.
Want to give cloth a try? I recommend getting flats or prefolds and a handful of Thirsties snap covers. It’s a relatively small investment, and you can see if it works for you. A lot of people wait until their babies are older to start using cloth, but I really recommend starting early! Newborn babies go through a lot of diapers, and disposable diapers tend to leak the most with younger babies.
Have you tried cloth diapers? What system works for you? Thanks to MaryAnne from Mama Smiles for today’s post. MaryAnne lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband Mike and their four children. Before having children she spent most of her time teaching and learning; she has degrees in Music, Education, and Medicine and has taught everything from piano lessons and French to research methodology and ethics courses. She is now a stay-at-home mother, and enjoys the learning, creativity, and play that happens naturally in a young child’s everyday life, which she shares on her blog, Mama Smiles. Follow Mama Smiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for creative inspiration!
My apologies for taking such a long hiatus in our cloth diapering series! Here is the latest, all about cleaning up those lovely messy diapers!
So you’ve decided to do cloth diapering, and you’ve gotten all of your gear together. You’ve just taken a moment to sit back and relax a little when – oops! You discover your sweet little angel has just peed or pooped in one of those cloth diapers you spent so much time assembling. Now what?
The good news is that cleaning cloth diapers these days is easier than you might think. We will address laundering your cloth diapers in a future post, but here we’ll take a look at the immediate cleanup you must do at the all-important diaper change. This is, you might say, the critical moment in the process, where the rubber meets the road or, more appropriately, the cloth meets the bottom. It is your time to really flex those natural parenting muscles.
Again, please note that this series deals specifically with prefolds and covers, though much of the process will be similar to other cloth diapers.
1. Undo the diapers and deposit the messy stuff in your diaper pail. (If you need to, take a moment to read more about the diaper pail and other supplies you will need for changing cloth diapers). If it is poopy, dump the whole thing, cover and all. If the diaper is just wet, you only need to dump the cloth. The cover you can just wipe out and hang to air out a bit. This may seem a little gross at first, but you’ll get used to it! The truth is that if you dump (unnecessarily) the cover at every diaper change, you will need to have a huge supply of diaper covers, which can get really pricey. And it really isn’t necessary, so why bother?
2. Now turn your attention back to the little bottom wiggling on the changing table in front of you. Everyone has a slightly different method for cleaning up their little ones. This is what works for us:
When just wet: Wet your cloth wipe with a little water and gently wipe the diaper area. (If you have a boy, make sure you have that little peepee covered from the second you open up his diaper. If you have a girl, of course remember to wipe front to back).
Make sure to dry the area thoroughly. Our pediatrician told us that this was actually the most important part, since it is wetness that often causes diaper rashes.
Use any diaper cream, if needed. (I usually only apply cream if the area looks red).
When messy: I first clean the area with some Vaseline on a cloth. This was such a great tip – the poop comes off easily, and it’s much gentler on your little one than having to scrub their bottom to get them clean.
Then make sure to wash the area with some soap and water then clean with a little more water. We keep some mild soap in a little dish on our changing table. This step will help reduce rashes and infections.
I almost always use diaper cream after messy diapers, although I usually apply a little Vaseline first, to make sure my little Monkey’s sensitive skin doesn’t get too irritated.
3.Now for the real cleanup. After you’ve put a clean diaper on your little one, it’s time to take care of the dirty diaper you just put in the pail. If the diaper was just wet, you’re done. The wet diaper can wait in the pail until laundry day. If your baby hasn’t yet started solids, you’re done. Newborn poop is so runny that it comes out easily in the wash.
But if your child is eating solids and has just pooped, the real fun is about to begin! Lug that diaper pail over to your toilet and put on your cleaning gloves to clean that diaper out. For this step, I highly recommend a diaper sprayer like the one made by bumGenius. A sprayer is more efficient and effective, meaning that you’ll be done sooner and have done a better job to boot. Otherwise you just have to swish the diaper around in the toilet until most of the mess comes off.
I tend to flush several times during this step, depending on how messy the diaper is, so I can have fresh water to use. Yes, this does bring us back to the issue of high water usage with cloth diapers, but I think it really helps.
When you’re satisfied with the results, squeeze excess water out of the diaper and put back in your pail until wash day. By the way, if you are using a sprayer, take extra care when rinsing out the diaper cover. Those things are designed to repel water, so if you’re not careful you’ll end up with poopy water all over your walls!
So now you’re really done! Until laundry day, that is…Stay tuned for a future post to help you out with that as well!
First of all, check out the resources listed on our newly updatedNatural Parenting Resource Page for some great overviews about getting started with cloth diapering.
Below is a list of items you will need, based on my experience with prefold diapers. While most comments will apply to any type of cloth diaper, please note that some details may vary.
1) The Diapers
While there are many kinds of cloth diapers out there, I have had great success with the prefolds. They are easy to use and clean and adjust easily as your child grows. What are prefolds? Basically, they are the soft cotton insides – the actual diapers themselves – that are folded into diaper covers. The prefolds are the real workhorses of your ensemble, absorbing everything your baby outputs. In the olden days, most moms would have gotten by with just these and some clothes pins.
There is no particular brand of prefold diapers, since they are basically the same no matter where you get them. We bought these Indian Prefolds from Jillian’s Drawers (“Indian” referring to the type of cotton).
How many do you need? Opinions vary, plus it depends a bit on your budget. Green Mountain Diapers has some great buying guidelines based on how much you are able (or willing) to spend. When my little Monkey was a newborn, I started with 3 dozen cloth diapers, but soon found I was able to cut back by about half a dozen. Generally you want enough diapers to last you at least two days in between washings.
As your child grows, you will be able to get buy with even fewer, especially when s/he reaches toddlerhood. Why? Older kids have more control over their bodily functions and are able to go for longer periods without needing to be changed, one of the physical signs of readiness for potty training.
2) The Covers
If you are using pre-folds, you will also need a number of waterproof covers for them. These guys are your last, best defense against having to change yet another outfit for your newborn (can’t help with spit-up outfit changes, sorry!). There are many great brands out there, but I really loved Bummis Super Whisper Wraps when my little Monkey was a newborn. When he got a little older we graduated to Bummis Super Brite covers. These worked really well until he was about a year old and so much more active. At that point we discovered that snap closures (not velcro) did the job better and, well, kept our floors cleaner.
How many do you need? You don’t need as many covers as diapers, since unless you are changing a poopy diaper you can usually just wipe the cover clean and reuse it (more on cleaning your cloth diapers in a future post). We started with about 5 covers but quickly realized we needed more. In the end we had about 10-12 covers when my little Monkey was very young. Today, however, we are back to just 5, which is fine for a toddler.
3) The Wipes
I think there is a place for disposable wipes: They are easy to use on the road and work well to clean everything from your baby’s bottom to your toddler’s hands to the table at the restaurant (just don’t use the same one for all three! 🙂 ) But when possible I strongly prefer to use cloth wipes. They are much gentler on a baby’s soft skin, plus you automatically eliminate so much waste by making the switch to cloth.
You can make your own cloth wipes (I will be trying it myself soon, so watch for this in a future post!), or you can purchase them online (we have these Thirsties wipes – they are a little pricey, but they are wonderful!)
One thing I would not recommend is using baby washcloths. I tried it, and it was terrible! They worked for the first few cycles, but after too many times going through the laundry they lost all absorbency. To the point that whenever I tried to pour a little water on them to clean my little Monkey’s bottom, the water would bead and roll right off the cloth.
4) The Water Bottle
When I got started with changing diapers, at each diaper change I would first run to the bathroom and wet the cloth wipe and then run back to the changing table to try and find a place to set the wet cloth until I was ready for it. This routine got old very quickly, especially since in my new mother’s haze I would often forget to wet the cloth until the baby was already undressed on the changing table.
So instead I started keeping a little water bottle on the changing table. I actually used the bottle they gave me for myself when I was in the hospital after Monkey was born. (Does that bring back memories for anyone??)
While there are many recipes out there for cleaning solutions, I have found that plain water works just fine, although we also keep a bar of soap in dish nearby to help clean up after poopy diapers.
5) The Diaper Pail
You will need some kind of diaper pail to hold all of your messy diapers until it is time to do laundry. You don’t need anything fancy, just something with a well-fitting lid. We actually had a hard time finding something at the store, since most diaper pails are designed for disposable diapers. In the end we found the Safety 1st Easy Saver pail shown below, which has held up remarkably well after a great deal of use.
6) The Diaper Pail Liners
What makes modern cloth diapering so much easier than it was for our mothers and grandmothers is the invention of the washable diaper pail liner. Thanks to this remarkable item, when you go to do laundry, you don’t even have to touch the dirty diapers. Simply dump the contents into the washing machine, turning the bag inside out as you go, and then drop the bag in with the rest! Easy peasy!
We have been very happy with our Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner. It works well and has lasted a long time. Whichever brand you choose, just make sure to purchase two liners, so that you have one to use while the other is in the wash.
7) The Diaper Sprayer
Okay, this one is really optional, but I can’t imagine doing without my bumGenius Diaper Sprayer. You have to install it on your toilet, but it makes rinsing off poopy diapers so much easier than trying to do it by hand. Well worth the investment!
Keep in mind that you don’t have to rinse off the poopy diapers until your baby starts eating solids, especially if you are breastfeeding. Before then the poop is so runny that this extra step isn’t necessary. (Sorry, too much information??)
So there you have it! My recommendations on essential cloth diapering gear. Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for the product recommendations above. Just trying to share the love a little by letting you all know what worked for us.
Stay tuned for the next post in our series on cloth diapering, when we tackle the indelicate topic of cleaning your cloth diapers!
This series of posts is dedicated to dear little S., due in September. Her parents’ questions about cloth diapering are what inspired me to share what I’ve learned.
Interested in (or at least curious about) cloth diapering, but not sure where to start?
The good news is that since so many more people are choosing to do cloth diapering, so there are tons of resources available. The bad news is that because so many more people are choosing to do cloth diapering, there are tons of resources available – as if you didn’t have enough decisions to make with a new baby coming soon!
I do not claim to be an expert on all the myriad kinds of cloth diapers available. I will admit right now that I have never tried pocket diapers, for example, only pre-folds and covers. The truth is that after a minimal amount of research I decided to just go with what my sister used. After all, she loved pre-folds, and I trust her opinion, plus I knew I would always have a resource close at hand!
So what follows in this new cloth diapering series reflects my experience with pre-folds, although many of the observations will apply to all cloth diapers. I hope to have a guest post soon giving an overview of all the cloth diaper options available, so stay tuned!
Still Making Up Your Mind?
Not sure whether you want to use cloth or disposables? Here are some arguments in favor of cloth diapering:
1. Better for the environment (except for, you know, all that water…) There have been a few times when traveling that we’ve used disposable diapers exclusively, and the amount of waste generated was incredible. Yes, you do use a lot more water with cloth because of all the extra laundry, but don’t they use a lot of water making the disposable diapers? Plus, the truth is that with a child we waste a lot more water generally. Think of summertime sprinklers and playing at the sink! The extra water seemed less of a problem to me than the extra waste.
2. Better for your wallet – Again, you could argue that you will have a higher water bill because of the extra laundry, but we did the calculations once (unfortunately I didn’t save them!) and it was still much cheaper to use cloth diapers. According to Whole Living magazine (April 2012 issue), the cost per child is $170 for cloth vs. $725 with disposables. You will have some sticker shock because of the cost of the initial investment in the diapers, but if you think that’s bad, wait until you realize how many packages of disposable diapers you will go through in a week! I used disposables exclusively once when traveling, and it seemed like we were buying more diapers literally every other day.
3. Better for your baby’s bottom – I have read arguments both ways about whether cloth or disposable diapers lead to more diaper rash. I can only say that my little Monkey does much better with cloth. The evidence? Whenever we travel and he exclusively uses disposable for a few days, he ends up with a rash. I suspect that a large share of the blame goes to the disposable wipes, which I dislike more than the actual disposable diapers, but the diapers certainly don’t help. My little boy has inherited my sensitive skin, and it definitely reacts to the disposable materials.
(A couple tips, if you do have to go with disposables for a time: Invest in better, more natural diapers. They are more expensive, but easier than combating a bad case of diaper rash. Plus it will give you less heartburn over not using cloth during that time. Seventh Generation is perhaps the best known brand and probably the most environmentally friendly, though I have heard mixed reviews about performance. I personally love Huggies Pure & Natural. And if you have to use disposable wipes, make sure to dry off the diaper area afterwards with a soft cloth. More than anything, this step helped with our diaper rash problem).
But in the bigger picture, I also worry a great deal about the long-terms effects of having all those chemicals from disposable diapers get up close and personal with my little Monkey’s special parts. And in the end, that was what sold me on cloth diapers, hands down.
4. Better for potty training – Although we haven’t quite gotten to this stage ourselves (just beginning!), the idea is that cloth diapers allow your little one to actually feel when he is wet or messy and so help him know when he needs to be changed, the first step in helping him be aware of his bodily functions. In fact, many disposable-wearing toddlers are switched into cloth training pants when it comes time to potty train for this very reason.
Before you jump in…
So now you know why I love cloth diapers. But I am going to spill the beans on some of the downsides of cloth diapering, at the risk of driving some people away, just because I think it is better to know what you are getting into.
1.It is messier. No way around it, cloth diapers are more messy. Unless you opt for a cleaning service (we decided not to after learning that the one in our area would return any old kids’ diapers to you, so you were essentially sharing used diapers with a wide range of other kids out there), you will be dealing with a whole bunch of soiled diapers. Diapers in general are messy, but with cloth you have the added bonus of needing to rinse out the poopy ones in the toilet. (Although to be honest I never started doing this until my little Monkey really started eating solids – breastmilk poops are so runny and less smelly that there’s not really a need for this extra step).
2. It can be stinky. If you have a sensitive sense of smell, beware. Fortunately I don’t, but unfortunately, other members of my household do, and we have had to take extra steps (lots of baking soda, washing frequently, adjusting our diaper pail) in order to deal with the smell. Having said that, I should also mention that we also have to take extra steps with disposable diapers (double bagging before tossing), so the smell is definitely there with those, too. The main difference is that disposables you can bag and toss whenever you feel like it, while the diaper pail full of dirty diapers has to sit and wait a few days until it is time to do another load of laundry. There are steps you can take to lessen the smell, however, which I will address in a future post.
3. It is more time-consuming. Again, this mainly applies to the clean-up after your baby starts eating solids. The actual changing takes no more or less time than with disposables. But once baby starts eating solid foods, you will have to take some time to rinse out the diapers in the toilet before throwing them in the diaper pail. Also, you will have to change your baby more frequently, since, unlike disposable diapers, the diapers still feel wet after they have peed. (Doesn’t that make you wonder, though, what’s in those diapers that allows your baby to feel dry even after peeing?) And all time needed to do all that extra laundry can add up. Since I am at home full-time, however, it really doesn’t take much extra effort to wash the diapers, which I typically do every third day.
4. Your baby will have a super-butt. I guess you could consider this an advantage or a disadvantage 😉 but wearing cloth diapers will definitely change your little one’s silhouette. Cloth diapers are just bulkier, and my little Monkey has to wear pants up to a size larger when he’s in cloth than he does when he’s in disposables. Of course, all that extra padding came in handy when he was first learning to walk!
So where does this leave you? In the end, every family must choose what is best for its particular situation. One thing parenthood has taught me is the danger of judging other people’s choices. Raising kids, especially when you are trying to do it in a conscious, conscientious way, is just plain hard. So make your decision something that you can live with, regardless of what others tell you to do.
I chose to do cloth diapers, and I have no regrets. In fact, it is one of the choices of which I am most proud. I’d like to think my little Monkey’s bottom will thank me for it one day.