Cloth Diapering

When we found out we were pregnant, the thought of cloth diapering was just ridiculous to me. The stories of old timers when cloth diapering consisted of a big blanket folded a million times and held together by huge safety pins which then had to most times be covered with plastic or rubber pants to prevent leaks, and then had to be dunked and scrubbed by hand to get clean totally grossed me out. It was mentioned and demonstrated in a baby care basics class that we took, and didn't look very hard. We even toyed with the idea of using the hybrids (explained below)while we were in the class. Still, it was a no brainer that we would use disposables, it's just too easy... or is it?

When Tuff turned 2 months old, he started sleeping longer stretches. "Yay" for sleep, "boo" for diapers! He couldn't make it through the night without the disposables leaking EVERYWHERE, which meant stripping the bed, changing the baby, rocking the baby back to sleep and then trying to get back to sleep ourselves. There had to be a better way.

After trying EVERY brand of disposables, I started researching cloth diapers as strictly an overnight option. But after several days of exploring 100's of websites, YouTube videos and my favorite mommy blogs, I realized things have changed. Cloth diapers have had a HUGE makeover. They are absorbent, they have thousands of options, and they are just so darn cute!

So we plunged head first into cloth diapering... Wheeeee!




TOOLS YOU WILL NEED TO START:

1) DIAPERS!
Of course the first thing to buy is diapers. 18-24 diapers is a perfect count if you plan to wash every 2-3 days. You'll want to wait until your baby has passed all the meconium before cloth diapering, as the meconium is tar-like and it will take some elbow grease to get that off the cloth (and you will want as much time as possible freed up to snuggle with your little one). There are literally hundreds of companies that make all different kinds of cloth diapers. So do a little research, watch some YouTube videos on different brands, and pay attention to where the diapers are made (most are made in China, but there are a few made in the US). I have dedicated most of the bottom part of this page to diaper reviews.

2) WET BAG!
A wet bag is basically a zippered bag lined with PUL (polyurethane laminate), a waterproof material that the majority of cloth diaper shells are made of. You will hear people talk about having a dry-bag and a wet-bag, this probably means they have a bag for the clean diapers (dry) and a seperate bag or waterproof pocket for the dirty diapers (wet). I think the zippered wet-bags are perfect because the zipper helps the bag to "breathe" just enough so the ammonia is not sealed in air tight. Ammonia is very strong, especially when marinating in an air tight container for several hours, much less a day or so. But it doesn't breathe enough for the smell to get fill the room. Regardless of your routine or what you want to use, you don't want anything leaking from this bag. They come in all sizes, so you may want to get at least 2 large bags (so you can have somewhere to put the dirty diapers while the other is washing), and one medium or small bag (for day trips and daycare). They are also quite easy to make, so if you have the time and a sewing machine, go for it.

3) CLOTH FRIENDLY DETERGENT!
Okay, every mother who cloth diapers their child has a favorite. So your best bet at first is to buy in small quantities and try out several brands to see which one works best with your washing machine, your water supply and your baby's tushy. Regardless of what kind you use, be sure that it is "free and clear" of perfumes and dyes.

Now that you have the essentials, let's get you started.

Prepping: First thing I learned is that your diapers need to be washed before you use them. Manufacturing and packaging is a dirty process, and you don't want all that junk near your babies "junk". How many times to wash your diapers before you use them depends on both the material fibers and the user. If natural fibers (hemp, bamboo, cotton, etc.), then they will need to be washed several times before they reach their maximum absorbency. These also need to be washed by themselves. Natural fibers have oils that can leave a residue on synthetic cloth and cause them to "bead". A good soak and a few washes before incorporating them into your normal stash should do the trick. If the fibers are synthetic (PUL, fleece, microfiber, minky, etc.), they will be efficient after the first wash.

Wash cycle: There are just as many ways to wash cloth diapers as there are companies that make cloth diapers... hundreds. It really all boils down to your family's schedule and what routine works out best for you. But here are a few generic beginner tips that helped me:

     1) Use a free and clear detergent. Those additives, chemicals and scents leave a residue on the fabric which makes the lining or the inserts repel liquids. Also, remember that baby's skin is sensitive and the material will be against your baby's most sensitive areas. Here is a great list of cloth friendly detergents for you to check out.
     ***Note: Beware of the detergents that do not list all of their ingredients. You have a right to know what's in your detergent. If the detergent claims to be "plant based" or "all natural" or "organic", but doesn't list it's ingredients, a red flag should go up.

     2) There's no right or wrong way to wash. You will know if your diaper washing routine needs to be adjusted, trust me! If they still smell like ammonia straight out of the dryer, or the second your wee little one takes a whiz in a fresh diaper and the smell fills the room (yuck!), or you notice they are leaking 5 minutes after you put a new diaper on - then you need to fine-tune your wash regime.

     3) The cloth diapering community of today is amazing. These people are everywhere, you have no idea how big the cloth diapering (CD) community is. It's huge! They have seen it and done it all... used every fiber, washed with every detergent, experimented with every brand and are eager to give you their opinions (and they are not ones to judge, considering they have been there-done that). Facebook and BabyCenter are a great place to start, if you are a member.

KELLI'S PERSONAL DIAPER LAUNDERING METHOD!
My personal wash routine has changed several times, and I'm sure it will continue to evolve as Tuff grows. I have streamlined my regimen from friendly advice, online tutorials, personal experience and a bit of logical thinking - and I must say that it has been going great. This method has worked out for daycare as well, except we just have to run through the steps when we come home with several diapers at a time instead of straight off the butt. For now, this is how we roll:

- When we change the diaper (or pull it out of the wet-bag from daycare), we immediately pull the insert out of the pocket (shell), give a quick rinse in the sink and ring out. Same if we are using a flat or a prefold. I thought this would be so gross, but it's much more disgusting to pull out inserts that have been marinating in urine for two days. Trust me, that smell will burn into your nose for DAYS!

- After rinsing, I spray the shell lining (once) and the insert or prefold (twice in a downward motion on both sides) with Bac-Out (live enzyme-producing cultures which attack odor, digesting them back into nature), but vinegar works just as well if you keep in a spray bottle by/under your washing sink. Then I put both in the wet bag.

- About every 2.5 days, I dump all the diapers, along with the wet bag, into the washing machine in the morning after rinsing out the overnight diaper.

- I set my top-load washer to the highest water level on warm/cold and do an"extra rinse" with 1 cup of vinegar. This is a sort of pre-rinse with cold water to loosen up the yuckies left in the cloth and release them into the water and drain out.
***Vinegar will conteract the ammonia, kill the bacteria and prevent the diapers from getting build up (and will also keep your cloth nice and soft).

- Once your pre-rinse is complete, set for a regular wash with extra rinse on warm/cold setting on the highest water level.

- My fave detergent so far has been Rockin' Green. For a normal load of diapers (about 12-14 shells and inserts) I use 3/4 tbsp of detergent, depending on how many soiled (poopy) diapers we've had in the past 2 days.
***Note: After my first bag of Rockin' Green, I tried Charlie's Soap on the advise of many of my cloth diapering momma friends. I am not impressed. The first thing, this detergent is one of those that do not list ingredients on the packaging. I had to search the web high and low for them. Second, I've found that I have to rinse them a second time to get all the suds out and my inserts are stiff as a board. The only remedy has been to add vinegar to that second extra rinse. If I don't do the second rinse, Tuff's skin starts getting these little bumps. I know this is from the detergent because I washed a small load of his clothes with the Charlie's, and the red bumps popped up all over his skin. Working for an industrial construction company for the past 10 years, these red bumps look very similar to the caustic (sodium hydroxide) rashes some of our employees have been treated for when working in chemical plants (some of these rashes progress to burns and blisters after being exposed to both air and water over a few hours time). I had to strip the diapers and his clothes with 3 extra rinses, plus cover him in coconut oil and wait until it was absorbed, to get us back on track. This detergent works for many families, but I will not be buying it again.


- After the extra rinse, I hang dry my shells and inserts. It takes about 3 hours for the shells and about 12 hours for inserts to dry completely, so make sure you have enough diapers to last that 3rd day. Sometimes I throw them all in the dryer, just depends on the day of the week :)
***I hang them inside my house, so it probably takes less time to dry outside on a sunny day - one of the items on my hubby's "honey-do" list is to set me up a clothes line.

- After drying, I stuff the inserts back into the shells and put them on the changing table so they are ready to use.

This sounds like a lengthy and tedious routine, but it literally takes me as long to actually do as it took you to read. Rinsing out the diapers after we change him has really made a difference in how clean our diapers come out.

What to do with the poo? All I have to say is that I'm sooooo glad we bought a diaper sprayer. There are so many videos on YouTube to see how these are installed and used. It's amazing... we just take the insert out, fold the shell in half, inside out, and stick as far down in the toilet as possible without it touching the water, then spray both sides off and ring out. Then we just go through our regular routine. I could not have dunked and swooshed the diaper in the toilet... and I am definitely not washing feces down my sink or bathtub. Poo belongs in the toilet, and there it shall stay!!!


When we go out, we use diaper liners so I don't have to carry the poo around with me all day. The flushable, biodegradable liners come 100 to a box at about $8.00. Lifesavers, in my opinion, when you are going out on the town or on vacation. You just fold up the poo in the liner, plop in the toilet and flush.
Many of the moms I know do not use liners or diaper sprayers, and they are just as happy and excited about cloth diapering as ever. I say, God bless you women! Maybe as I get more comfortable with the cloth diapering ways, I will be confident enough to change a stanky diaper in a restaurant bathroom full of women and just put the poopy diaper in my bag and bring it back with me to the table in which I'm surrounded by other people trying to enjoy their lovely meals and not worry if the stank in my bag is affecting my neighbors taste buds. I doubt it, but crunchy mommas out there can dream...

**Click any of the pictures or links on this page to purchase or read more about each brand. I do not have any affiliation with any of these companies, I'm simply reviewing what we have tried so far and our results.

What diaper to choose? We'll start with my favorite which is the BumGenius 4.0 one size. If I were to compare these to, let's say, cars... This is the Honda of diapers. Very dependable, very durable, great design, reasonably priced (an absolute steal for the quality) and have a high resale value. I have a heavy wetter and a good sleeper, and these diapies can last 10 hour sleep stretches with absolutely NO LEAKS!!! And they are so freaking cute on his little bum. They come in snaps and hook & loop (Velcro). The rise is also adjustable, so they fit from newborn (about 8 lbs) through potty training (up to 35 lbs.). They come with 2 inserts (most cloth diapers only come with one, so this is a bonus), a newborn and a regular. The seat of these is wide and a little bulky (but I don't mind a chunky butt), which means it's easy to double-stuff the inserts if needed, and your man can fit his hand in there easily, leaving him with no excuse to help stuff the diapers every once in a while!



Here are a couple more that I have tried and my likes and dislikes with each (none make the cut of an overnight diaper... just saying):

Awesome Blossom: Good daytime diaper, and I love that it comes in black (very hard to find). The business is run in the US by a WAHM which makes most of the products on the website, but the diapers are made in China, so shipping takes a while. The prints are cute and the solid colors are very vibrant, making them very photogenic. These are a pretty slim fitting diaper (not too bulky), so if you are looking for a cloth diaper comparable to how a disposable would fit under clothes, this would be a nice choice. However, I find I have to double stuff these for even daytime use. The insert it comes with is okay, but I sometimes stuff a BG newborn insert in with it so I can get more than 1 hour's use. They do come with extra small setting snaps (which you can see on the left hand side of the flap), so if you have a small baby these would also be a great diaper that you could start out with and grow with your babe. They run between $17-$22 per diaper, but you can find them on sale on Zulily sometimes, so that's where I'd keep an eye out for them.

Royal Fluff: What I L.O.V.E. about these diapers is all the designs. They come in black varieties, which you know I love, but the purple is why I bought one to try. They make diapers in the LSU purple that I have been looking for. And they are a pretty stand up diaper. One size diaper, like the ones mentioned above, and they have a Velcro option (YAY!). They run about $20-$25. I love the colors in their Royal Bundle ($225 for 12 diapers and inserts = $18.75/ea). This business is also run from a WAHM in the US, with the diapers coming from China (what is the deal with China diapers?) These also run sometimes on Zulily, so make the company a favorite and snag one when they are 50% off.


Flip: I have one or two of these, but I'm not sold on them for "all the time" use. Maybe it's because I'm new in the cloth diapering world, but I haven't wrapped my head around these yet. However, they seem to be very universal in their efforts and very affordable. They come in snaps and hook & loop closures and very cute designs. The neat part about these is they have HYBRID technology. You can use the cotton washable inserts with the covers OR you can purchase disposable inserts that you can throw away after each use. Yes, it kind of defeats the purpose of using cloth, but I guess if you were a total sceptic, this is a great tool to get the introductions out of the way and then all you have to do when you become convinced (as we all do) is actually start using the cloth inserts. Great for travel and vacation probably, too. I have used cloth inserts and pre-folds with these. I've also used them as a swim diaper (with no inserts) a couple times and they worked great. A con with these diapers is I find that the legs are a little tight around my nugget's chunky sweet meat (thighs). A pro is they are made by the same company as BumGenius.


Sun Baby: I know these are a favorite with a lot of moms, but they are my least favorite pocket diaper. The only pro that I've found is they come in very cute prints and are very soft, but thats where it ends. I've found that they leak often, regardless of how tight I snap them around my sons legs. I use them as a last resort during the day while I've got a load washing, but other than that, I leave them in the drawer or in the diaper bag as a backup. However, I have friends that LOVE these diapers and they are pretty cheap, running about $10 with an insert. They are manufactured in China, and the business is run by a Shanghai mom named Sun pei. So expect about 3 weeks for delivery.
Itti Bitti Tutto: When I snagged these on Zulily, I was so excited. Fuzzy little cloth diapers, so stinking cute. However, being niave and new to CD'ing, I was shocked when I started examining these diapers. They are still a one size diaper, but they have assorted snap in soaker pads on the inside, which totally confused me to the point that I washed them and didn't pull them back out to use for 2 weeks LOL. They come with 3 soaker pads which have color-coded snapping system which I still don't think I have figured out, but whatever. You can mix and match them depending on how much absorbancy you want to get from them. They also have a patented "poo-fence" that supposedly keeps the nasties from leaking out (I have found that most cloth diapers keep all the poo inside, so this doesn't impress me). Now, moving away from the construction, the outside of the diaper is FANTASTIC. These would be perfect for a photo session or if you just want your bitti bum-bum to be fuzzy and fancy all the time. They did leak out the front one time, but that was after about 2.5 hours, so I'd say they are a stand up diaper. They are of course made in China, and I got the purple and giraffe fuzzies, but they come in an array of bright and fun prints and solids.




For now, these are all the brands that I have tried. I have more "fluff" on it's way that I'm totally excited about, made locally by a SAHM of 5 boys that started her own home business called Snuggly Baby Boutique. She makes the most darling diapers out of the cutest fabrics, and much more. If you are cloth diapering in the Baton Rouge area, or just want something cute for your little one, you should definitely check out her Facebook page.

I will update here as we move through all our options and try new avenues. Here are some routes that I'm looking forward to explore:

FLATS
I just don't feel comfortable posting all this information and not exploring all the cloth diapering options available. I'll admit, it is very intimidating thinking about all the different folds for flat diapers. However, it's an ancient practice that I am both eager and frightened to execute. But just looking at the pros and cons is reason enough to give them a "GO"...

Pros:
1) Cheap, cheap, cheap!
2) Easy to clean because of the single layer material
3) Fast to dry, for the same reason, either in the sun or in the dryer
4) Literally one size, all you have to do is fold to fit your babe
5) Multipurpose! If you end up not wanting to do all the different folds, you can just fold the material to the size of an insert and use in your pocket diapers... or use them as doublers... or use them as receiving blankets... or dry your car off with them (absorbant and lint-free). Endless options!

Cons (with pro-options):
1) Lots of complicated folding patterns, so not as "daddy-friendly"
     **You can either pre-fold the flats and stack for him ready-to-use, or stuff them like inserts into a pocket diaper.

2) Not stay-dry, so the material will feel damp against babies skin after wetting
     **This can be remedied by lining with a microfiber insert or just change the diapers more frequently.

3) Have to be used with a cover to keep from leaking.
     **The covers are inexpensive and can be used multiple times before needing a wash. Plus, they are decorated with beautiful prints, so your baby's bum is always in style.

Here are a few companies that sell flats that I'm trying...
(speaking car language: starting with your low-grade Kia to your high-class Mercedes)

**The Kia - Your standard flat, can also be used as a bread or cheese cover!**


**The Honda - Super absorbent and made by BumGenius, my favorite brand**
**The Mercedes - Super soft and absorbent, and come in an array of colors**

**Because every car needs a seatbelt, right?**


**Think of this as insurance to cover your car with... are the car references getting old?**


**Like putting a cashmere car cover over your Mercedes**