Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101

Morning everyone!

Let me start by saying that I am by no means a cloth diapering expert. There are a million different options out there, each with their own pros and cons. This is just what works for us...for now. That can always change as I find new products, Tripp gets older, I get lazier...haha. Cloth diapering isn't for everyone, but I have gotten a good amount of questions from friends that were curious/interested, so I thought I'd put it all out there for ya.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to try cloth diapers.  We try to be as environmentally friendly as possible (reduce reuse recycle...sing with me Jack Johnson fans) so the thought of Tripp's diapers sitting in a landfill for umpteen years grossed me out.  Yes, its extra water that we're using to do the laundry, but I bought enough diapers so that we only need to do a load every other day instead of every made me feel better anyway.  Our water bill actually hasn't gone up much at all, so I feel good about that.

A huge benefit to using cloth diapers is that a lot of cloth babies end up being potty trained at a younger age.  They are more aware that they are wet or dirty, and that's obviously uncomfortable, so they tend to want to get out of diapers earlier.  I'm okay with that! Another thing I heard was that diaper rashes tend not to pop up as much with cloth.  It may be pure coincidence, but the only time I've ever seen a hint of diaper rash coming with Tripp was when he was in disposables for a week.  We do use disposables when we are travelling since we don't have the luxury of a washing machine in a hotel room...and who wants a trash bag full of dirty diapers in their suitcase? 

There are several different kinds of cloth diapers available these days.  When I first told our parents we were putting Tripp in cloth, they were shocked.  They thought I was safety-pinning my child into a burp cloth haha.  Notsomuch.  Cloth diapers look a LOT different than when we were kids...thankfully.

Prefolds: Supremely affordable and the most durable cloth diapering option, it is no surprise that prefolds are also the most widely used cloth diapers. They are rectangular in shape and designed with three areas of varying thickness. Diapers listed as 4x6x4 have four layers of cotton twill on the side panels with six layers in the middle. 4x8x4 diapers similarly have four layers on the sides and eight in the middle. Prefold diapers necessitate a bit more of a pioneering spirit as they require minimal folding, optional fastening and waterproofing with a breathable diaper cover but provide superb absorbency and amazing economy.

Pockets: Pocket cloth diapers are not the most affordable option but are wildly popular for their comfort, convenience and ability to contain messes really well. They are made from two layers—an outer shell that is breathable and waterproof and the inside lining is made from a single layer of super soft fleece or suedecloth. The two layers form a pocket opening perfect for stuffing with an absorbent insert or tri-folded prefold. Parents also love the flexibility of being able to customize the diaper's absorbency with an insert based on their baby's specific needs. They are designed to secure around baby with Velcro or snaps and are available in fun colors.

All-in-One's: The AIO cloth diaper is a clear favorite among Dads and caregivers. All-In-Ones most resemble disposable diapers in the convenience they offer and in ease of use. Fitted and secured with hook and loop tape or snaps, the interior is absorbent and the exterior is made from a breathable waterproof shell. All-In-Ones are offered in an array of prints and colors that really makes cloth diapering fun.

All-in-Two's or the "Shell" system: Shell diaper systems usually consist of a cover and then one or several "lay-in" inserts. So unlike a pocket diaper, you don't "stuff" your diapers, and you can reuse the covers multiple times between washings. And you can simply turn the dirty diaper into the pail to drop out the insert and then load it with a new, clean insert. This simplifies diaper bags, too. Just carry more inserts and you're ready to go!

Fitted Diapers: A fantastic combination of convenience, affordability, and a great fit make the fitted cloth diaper a hot seller. They are shaped for a trimmer appearance and secured around baby with convenient snaps or Velcro. Gentle encased elastic around baby's legs and torso provides superior leak prevention. They are easier to use than prefolds and easier to clean than All-In-Ones. Simply wrap around baby and cover with a breathable & waterproof diaper cover.

We're a combination household.  I use BumGenius Flips (AI2 on the left) during the day and put Tripp in a BumGenius 4.0 (pocket on the right) at night. 

Pockets have a little more absorbency because you can stuff extra liners inside and they do better at containing messes when he wears a diaper a lot longer than he does during the day.  We've had leakage two or three times with the pockets, and I'm sure I'll have to revamp the nighttime situation as he gets older and pees more at night, but it works for right now.  I like the fun patterns too. :-)

I chose this brand because 1) I liked these types of diapers, 2) they are a little more friendly on your wallet than some other brands and 3) they are one size!!  Many brands offer three different diaper sizes (newborn, infant and toddler) so you have to buy a whole new stash when your baby outgrows them.  $$$!  Tripp's diapers fit him when he was 7 pounds, they still fit him at 12 pounds and they should be good until he is potty-trained (in 3 months according to his Dad) because of their handy snap system.  You just adjust the snaps to alter the size as your baby grows.  (bum)Genius!  Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

A big issue with cloth diaper naysayers is cleaning.  If you're trying to save money by not using disposables, getting a diaper service kind of defeats the purpose.  I wash Tripp's diapers at home and it's actually really easy.  After I change his diaper, I throw the dirty stuff into his diaper pail (which is nothing more than a bucket with a lid).  We use a dry pail and don't need to do anything extra.  When he starts solids, we'll get a diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet and spray his messes off into the toilet, flush and drop the diaper in the pail. 

I throw everything into the washer for a cold rinse cycle with some Baby OxyClean to get the mess off of the liners.  Luckily, breastfed babies typically don't make awful messes.  Solid food changes everything.  After that is done, I do a hot wash cycle with an extra rinse using a chemical free detergent.  There are a few different cloth diaper-friendly detergents on the market.  We have tried Charlie's and Rock 'n Green. 

I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the two after using them both.  Charlie's is a little cheaper and the container is easier to scoop detergent out of, so that's our winner.  I've completely switched us over to Charlie's for all of our laundry.  Baby clothes shouldn't be washed using regular detergent and since it can leave a residue in the washer that will get on Tripp's clothes, I just use Charlie's to wash ours as well.  They smell just as clean as when I washed them with Tide.  :-)

Once a month I will toss all the clean diapers in the washer for a rinse with 1/4 cup of chlorine free bleach and then wash as usual to get stubborn stains out.  Liners go in the dryer with no fabric softener and diaper covers hang on the drying rack to dry.  That's it!  Super easy.  And no, there is no baby poop in our washer.  Promise. 

There is a wealth of information available on cloth diapers if you're interested in learning more.  Here are a few websites that I've enjoyed perusing:

Have a lovely Thursday everyone! 

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