Have you ever been curious about what cloth diapering is actually like? I’m here to tell you that it’s not scary, complicated or (that) gross! I’ll give you my three best tips for successful cloth diapering and walk you through what fluffy-bottom-life is like for my family.
As a young momma, Pinterest was my main resource for the cute patterned baby bottom covers. Which ones to buy, how to wash them, different designs, and storage options consumed an entire board. After reading every blog post and article on the internet, I decided to give cloth diapering a go.
The cute fluffy butts get me every time! Cloth diapers these days are NOT like the ones that your mom or your grandma used. There are no safety pins involved and no rubber pants to worry about (well, there can be, if you choose that style). Cloth diapers essentially look like a disposable diaper, but with snaps and fabric inserts instead of velcro tabs and mysterious absorbent material. There are several different styles available. I prefer the pocket style for my little one. Pocket diapers have a water resistant shell that has a soft inner layer, with a pocket on the backside. Inside the pocket (or between the layers) you stuff a microfiber, cotton, fleece, hemp, or even bamboo insert. The different types of liners have different absorbency levels and certain ones can be used directly against baby’s skin (so, not inside the pocket) without causing irritation. Some babies are heavy wetters and will need two liners to keep them dry. With the array of styles and customization options, I'll bet we can find a solution that works for you.
Cloth diapers are a bigger up-front cost than disposables. We have a mixture of brands; BumGenius and Alva Babies mostly. I didn’t pay full price for most of them. At $20 a pop for BG and $30 for 6 for AB, you can guess which ones I did pay full price for. They are very similar in design, but BG has a flap on the back, and AB just has a hole. After a year of wear and tear, the BGs are still looking good, while the ABs threads are coming undone. We bought a big set at a cloth diaper swap held by Cloth4Carolina while I was pregnant for around $100. Unfortunately, I didn’t know to look at the PUL (the waterproofing part on the inside). Most of the diapers I bought were completely crackled on the inside, making them useless. It is really simple to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Open up the pocket of the diaper and make sure that the PUL is intact so that no liquids can seep through. I like to think that the momma I bought them from was unaware of the defect in the diapers she was selling to me. I bought quite a few off of Facebook Marketplace and this Facebook group. I think all-in-all, we spent less than $500 on cloth diapering. Compared to the $2000 the average parent spends on disposables in two years, this is a deal! When I reuse those same diapers with my future babies, I’ll make out like a bandit!
I love that cloth diapers are eco-friendly and easy to use. Did you know that a baby can use up to 5,000 disposable diapers in their lifetime? That’s a ton of waste in the landfill that won’t biodegrade for many years. Some people argue that the emissions from washing them are just as damaging to the planet as using disposables. Since no study has proven this to be true, I’d say the choice is solely up to the parents. I wish that I could say that we’ve never used a disposable, but some family members are very insistent on purchasing disposables “just in case.” This really annoyed me at first, until I realized that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It is much easier to use disposables during the newborn phase and at night. My daughter has less leaks this way and it's what works best for us.
Storing cloth diapers is just as easy as storing disposables, although they do take up a little more space. Unlike some of my mom friends, we use our changing table for most every diaper change. We have a drawer full of already stuffed diapers and a wiper warmer filled with soft, flannel wipes. We use a solution of about 1 cup warm water and 1 Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s original castile soap for the wipes. Some mommas like to use a few drops of lavender or melaleuca essential oil in their wipe warmer as well.
All about POOP
Everyone wonders, “but what about the poop?!” You can wash exclusively breastfed poop right in the washing machine, but once they start eating solids, you definitely have to give them a good rinse before washing them. In the basket beside the changing area, I have a large roll of biodegradable liners. I just bought these on Amazon and they are working great! I place one of these liners in the diaper in the morning in anticipation of poop. When it comes, you just flush the liner and it’s contents down the toilet. Sometimes we forget, or she’s off schedule and in that case we have this awesome sprayer attached to our toilet and it works great for rinsing the diapers. The sprayer is not optional! Once rinsed, I just take the diapers back to the changing area and place them in our Dekor Diaper Pail. I got the washable bags to go with it for a baby shower gift, and that makes even less waste involved!
Everyone has a different wash routine and I encourage you to do your own research and find out what works best for you! This is what we do. When the pail is full, which is about every 3-4 days, I just take the bag out, put the second one in, and take the bag to the laundry room. I like to wear gloves for this part, but if I’m out, I’m totally fine just washing my hands when I’m finished. I go ahead and turn the washing machine on a hot cycle. I like to make sure that it is on it’s largest load size too, so that the diapers have plenty of room to swish around and get clean. Now, this next part is not crunchy and it’s definitely not eco-friendly, but it is the best soap that I have found so far. I pour in a cup of Tide, filled up to the 5 line. Then I don my gloves and open the very aromatic bag of diapers. One by one, I take the inserts out of the pockets and throw all of that into the machine. Once all the diapers, inserts, and wipes are in the machine, I toss in the bag and close that bad boy up! I simply put the machine on the longest cycle and leave it be. Some people like to do an extra rinse after the wash cycle is finished and I did that for a while, but I didn’t see/smell much difference, so I decided not to waste the water. Every few months I’ll notice that I smell my daughter’s pee even when her diaper is barely wet. When that happens, I will make sure to add a little bleach to the wash cycle and do an extra rinse at the end. Drying the diapers isn’t crazy complicated either. I just put the inserts and flannel wipes in the dryer on hot and hang the shells on our drying rack. During the summer, I like to hang them outside to sun bleach any stains and dry them faster.
Traveling with Cloth Diapers
I remember being in the bathroom at Riverbanks Zoo with Violet and another momma said to me “Wow, you use cloth diapers in public. You’re so brave.” I really don’t have any idea what she meant. When we travel, whether it’s to the grocery store, the zoo, or out of town, we still use cloth diapers! The only extra item I take with me is a dry bag. I even have a big one that I take on out of town trips with us. I carry the clean diapers in it on the way there, dump them out when we arrive, and fill it with dirties while we are away. When we get a dirty diaper we put it into a dry bag and take it home to be washed with the next cycle. We do use disposable wipes when we are out though. They are just so convenient for messy bottoms, hands, faces, toys, pacifiers and everything!
I hope this helps you with your cloth diaper journey.
Three things to remember:
Do what works best for you! -In all aspects of this topic, which style diapers you choose, whether you go all or nothing, flannel wipes or disposable, or your washing routine, just do what works best for you!
Get a sprayer. I don’t know how else you’d get the poop off? Do make sure to turn off the valve after each use (it WILL explode. Don't ask me how I know)
Don’t sniff the steamy pee-pee air when loading the washer! Seriously, don’t.