i have had so many questions about cloth diapers over the past two years and am finally here to answer them as best i can. cloth diapering can seem intimidating when you're just getting started. there is loads of information out there complete with unfamiliar words and acronyms that will confuse the heck out of you. here is my cloth diaper why and how, based solely on my experience to help you sort through all of that.
Q. why do you cloth diaper?
A. we chose to cloth diaper before birdie was born for a couple of reasons. to help the environment and to save money. it really does make a difference. we also heard that cloth diapered babies tend to potty train a bit earlier than disposal diapered babies and that helped swing our decision as well.
Q. isn't cloth diapering so much added work to your already busy schedule?
A. no. it's essentially an extra load of laundry every day or two and quickly becomes a part of your regular routine.
Q. can you tell me about how you cloth diaper?
A. we try to cloth diaper as often as possible, but we also use disposables when it's convenient. combo-diapering is often what it's called. we keep a small stash of disposable diapers on hand for when cloth just isn't an option, but we do use cloth most of the time. birdie was cloth diapered 90% of the time until she was nearly two years old. we started to use disposables more frequently out of pure convenience after that, but since sailor started using cloth we have been trying to use them strictly with both kids.
Q. what kind of cloth diapers do you use?
A. we use bumgenius 4.0 cloth diapers. they are a pocket diaper. i have never used any other brand so i don't have anything to compare them to but i have held, examined and researched the reviews of several popular cloth diaper brands and decided that bumgenius was the one for us and still use them two years later.
Q. do they leak?
A. your cloth diapers should not leak. the only times that we have experienced leaks were when the diapers were not put on correctly or if we waited a bit too long between diaper changes. the only other time that we experienced leaks was once birdie became a toddler and needed an extra insert to hold more liquid. the double inserts make for a bulky bottom but will not leak over night.
Q. how many cloth diapers do you need to cloth diaper one baby from infant to potty training?
A. most cloth diaper companies recommend getting 24 one size cloth diapers. that gives you enough for one diaper change per hour which should be plenty. i recommend getting a small supply of newborn sized diapers for the first couple of months. the one size diapers are huge on infant babies and so getting the smaller diapers are worth it, in my opinion. i would also recommend purchasing extra inserts once your baby approaches toddler-hood for more absorbency.
Q. do you use the snaps or velcro?
A. we have both. i like the idea of the velcro because they are easy to open and close like a disposable diaper but they do catch lint and can be a pain in the butt to pick out. i have not yet had problems with my velcro tabs giving out like some people have expressed. i have heard that if they do start to lose their stick that they can be thrown into the dryer on the low cycle and that will help stiffen the velcro prongs and that bumgenius offers free replacement tabs if needed and you can purchase new velcro tabs if needed. the snaps are really great too, just a little harder to open and close.
we have two "changing stations" in the house. one upstairs and one downstairs. the one upstairs is a simple changing pad on top of our dresser with an odor free diaper pail, for disposable diapers and wipes, and a basket full of clean cloth diapers and extra inserts. the drawer of the dresser is full of our changing necessities that i talk about a little further down.
our downstairs changing station is a three drawer, wire basket system that we picked up on the cheap from ikea. we keep everything it in the hallway, across from the bathroom, away from the main area of the house. it is fully stocked with everything we may need in one organised space so we don't have to run upstairs each time we need to change a diaper.
our diaper necessities:
1. prefolds. these are great for added absorbency and they make great burp cloths.
2. extra inserts.
3. a diaper sprayer. we have one in both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms.
4. waterproof changing pad liners.
5. peepee teepees.
6. badger baby balm. a natural chamomile and calendula cream. great for chapped skin, cradle cap, baby acne and eczema.
7. cj's butter. this stuff is pure magic and will clear up a diaper rash super fast. it is also one of very few cloth diaper safe rash creams.
8. bumgenius newborn diapers.
9. bumgenius 4.0 diapers.
10. diaper wipe warmer.
11. water proof diaper pail liner. it can be thrown into the wash along with the diapers.
Q. how do you wash your cloth diapers?
A. we spray any solids off into the toilet with our sprayer. then into the lined diaper pail until wash time. do a cold soak over night with no detergent. you can add distilled white vinegar and a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the soak if the ammonia smell becomes an issue. (it has been brought to my attention that bumgenius does not recommend using vinegar and baking soda with their diapers. they recomment using a 1/2 cup of bleach in the wash once a month to fight stains and odors.) then in the morning wash in hot water with a double rinse cycle. we have used several different kinds of detergent from the bumgenius brand, to soap nuts to our regular laundry detergent. to be honest, they all seem to work pretty well for us. i have heard wonders about biokleen and have been meaning to try it. apparently it's great at keeping odors away. we tumble dry our inserts on low and line dry the diaper covers. for stains on diapers, a good sun soak will do the trick. sunning not only helps with stains but is also a natural way of killing bacteria and it works in cold weather too. do not use baby detergents such a dreft on cloth diapers. they contain fabric softeners and will leave a film on your diapers making them less absorbent.
here are few other helpful cloth diapering hints that you should know:
- cloth diapered bottoms are big and bulky. don't be surprised if you have to go up a size in clothes.
- line dried cloth diapers can be a little stiff. toss them into the dryer for ten minutes after they are dry to soften them up.
- cloth diapered babies need to be changed more frequently than disposable diapered babies. disposable diapers keep the moisture away from baby's bottom, making it more comfortable for them to sit in their potty. cloth diapered babies will feel uncomfortable when they are wet and will want to be changed more often. this is also the reason why so many cloth diapered babies potty train earlier. because they can feel when they're wet.
- we have never had diaper rash with cloth, in fact birdie has only had two diaper rashes and both times it was when we were out of town and using disposables for a few days. i am not saying that babies will not get diaper rash when using cloth diapers but it is less common. studies have shown that only 5% of cloth diapered babies experience diaper rash as opposed to the 50% of disposable diapered babies.
- often you can buy gently used cloth diaper stashes on sites like diaperswappers.com for a fraction of the cost. thanks beth for the heads up.
i know that cloth diapering is not for everyone. in the end every parent has to make a decision that fits into their lifestyle. i hope i helped answer some of your questions.
*update: as noted above, apparently you can purchase new velcro tabs from bumgenius, they do not replace them free of charge. bumgenius recommends washing your diapers with 1/2 cup of bleach once a month to fight stains and odors. they do not recommend using vinegar and or baking soda with their diapers.
also, we have been using the biokleen spray that i mentioned above on our dirty diapers for the past few days and so far it's great. i will be sure to note if my opinion changes.