Friend-Feature Friday: Cloth Diapers 101

(For Cloth Diapers Part 2 click HERE)

My friend and fellow blogger Kami read my post about our getting out of debt, and had one more huge suggestion for me…

cloth diapers!

It’s true, diapers are “eating” us out of house and home. We go through 75-85+ every 10 days (I know this because I had to pack an entire suitcase of just diapers and wipes for our cruise! It sucked!).

I know NOTHING about them and am intimidated, so she offered to educate us all on her experience with cloth diapers! I am a believer and think I’ll try to use them (most of the time, anyway) with our little girl due in August.

Thanks for the tips, Kami! Be sure to check out her site, Finding My Niche



I am so excited to share a little bit about cloth diapering! Hopefully it will seem less scary and more appealing :)

Why We Started Using Cloth Diapers
I started cloth diapering my oldest child when he was 11 months old because he had been having recurrent diaper rashes and I wanted to find a way to save money. It was also appealing to me to pollute the environment less and after learning about the amount of chemicals in disposable diapers (see bottom of post), I was even more interested in switching to cloth. I have cloth diapered now for over 2 years and am loving it! I’d never go back and, in fact, when we travel, I am always ready to come home to my cloth :) I’ve cloth diapered two children at once and am currently cloth diapering my 16 month old little girl. Come October, I’ll be cloth diapering two children again so I am so, so happy that we have these diapers! They have lasted through two children so far and are in great shape, so I expect them to continue to hold up. Gotta love that type of savings!
To start, there are many different types of cloth diapers. 
In this post, I am only going to focus on one type of cloth diaper but I really encourage you to research and find the best fit for your family if you are interested in using cloth diapers. This is a great website to start your journey. There are some great starter programs where you can try a certain amount of diapers and then send them back in order to see what you like. I didn’t do that but now wish that I had, so that I could have had experience with other types of diapers. Doing a program like that, however, isn’t necessary but it can be helpful.
Okay…onto the good stuff.

These are the diapers we love to use! The biggest reason we purchased these diapers is because they are one size. That means that my newborn can wear them and my three year old can wear them (although he is potty trained). They fit infants from 7 to 35 pounds. That meant that we could save more money, even though these diapers appear to be among the most expensive starting out. It’s true – there is an initial cost investment when using cloth diapers, but the savings add up quickly. We built our diaper stash of 18 one size diapers (plus 13 newbornKissaluv diapers and Prowraps covers), a diaper pail, diaper sprayer, diaper pail liner, and wet bag for about $500. I estimated that we spent $800 on disposable diapers and wipes in my son’s first 11 months of life alone. Now that we have cloth diapered a second child exclusively, our savings have doubled. It has been pretty neat not having to buy diapers for my little one (except for on vacation)! 
BumGenius diapers are fantastic. They rarely leak (and if they do, they are simply oversaturated) and they contain messes really well – even that runny breastfed poo! You know how when a baby poops, you can smell it from a mile away? That’s not the case with cloth diapers…they really contain the smell and often, I have to check to even see whether or not my little one has a dirty diaper – so, hooray for no smells! They come with two inserts – a newborn insert and a regular insert that has two different adjustable sizes. I like to use the single, regular insert during the day and at night, I simply add a newborn insert along with the regular insert so the diaper is more absorbent. The diapers wick moisture away from baby’s bum very well so diaper rashes aren’t usually a problem (unless it is caused by an acidic food or something along those lines). In the case that you’d need to use a diaper rash cream, you’d want to line the diaper with a piece of flannel or other fabric to avoid getting cream on the diaper itself (the cream can ruin the diaper). 
Here is a little picture tutorial of how the BumGenius diapers work. Honestly, they are very easy and very similar to disposables, especially if you have velcro (I started with velcro but moved to snaps because the velcro was not holding up…I would recommend snaps if you want the diapers to last a long time and you don’t want a headache every time you pull your diapers out of your washing machine because they’re all strung together!).
This is what each size of diaper looks like. There is a setting for small, medium, and large. You simply adjust the snaps as your baby grows. Very easy! 
The diapers come with two inserts – a regular insert and a newborn insert. You can adjust the regular insert depending on what diaper size you’re using. I like to use the diaper set to the medium setting when the cover is snapped to medium or large, and then I like to have the insert snapped to the small setting when the diaper cover is on the small setting.
Stuffing the diapers is a piece of cake! You simply take your insert, stuff it into the pocket, and the fold the fabric over. I like how the BumGenius diapers are designed because the flap keeps the insert in the diaper and contains messes.

Washing Your Diapers

Sometimes the fact that you have to wash diapers scares people off, but honestly, I do not notice an added burden with having to wash a load of diapers. How often you wash will depend on the size of your diaper stash. When I cloth diapered two children with 18 diapers between the two, I was washing every other day. Now that I am cloth diapering one child with 18 diapers, I wash every three days. I think 18 diapers is plenty for one baby and just enough for two children at a time (you could certainly add a few more for comfort and washing less often). You need to purchase special detergent for washing your diapers. It is important that they do not contain enzymes, brighteners, or other particular ingredients because they can harm your diapers or reduce their lifespan. Go here for a great list of detergents and their ratings. I like to use Country Save or Mountain Green Baby - but I am excited to try using Rockin Green because I have heard it works extremely well. Sometimes, you’ll need to strip the diapers because they will become built up with detergent. To do that, you can use Funk Rock which works amazingly well. The neat thing about these special detergents is that they last a LONG time. You only need a tiny amount to wash the diapers with. I have only bought detergent three or four times over a two year period of cloth diapering.
A basic guideline for washing is to wash all of the diapers in the largest setting cycle on cold. Then, add a small amount of detergent (usually 1/4 of what the recommended amount is for a load) and wash the diapers on hot. After this, do two rinses and you’re done! If you pull your diapers out of the wash and they smell clean, they are. Then, line dry your diapers (for best results) or if you’re lazy like I usually am, throw them in the dryer ;) Go here for more information on washing diapers.
If you purchase detergent from Cotton Babies, economy shipping is always FREE for those in the contiguous United States!
What About The Poo??

This is what everyone’s concerned about. Two words: Diaper Sprayer. I couldn’t live without it! If I didn’t have a diaper sprayer, I wouldn’t be cloth diapering. The diaper sprayer makes it very easy to wash the solids off of the diaper without making a big mess. I bought a small wash basin from Walmart and that is what I put my dirty diapers in. When I take them to the toilet to rinse them out, I carry them in that small basin, rinse them out with the diaper sprayer, then take them to my diaper pail and put them in. I keep that basin on top of my dryer so it’s really easy to access. The diaper sprayer is worth every penny! You can even find instructions online on how to make your own. Like I said…I couldn’t cloth diaper without it! A must-have, in my opinion.
A note on breastfed babies: for the first 6 months (or until solid foods are introduced) breastfed poopy diapers do not need to be sprayed off before washing. That is because the breastfed poo is water soluble and will wash away in the washer (and don’t worry, it will not make your washer all dirty – if the diapers come out clean, so is your washer). I am not sure if this is the same with formula fed babies – but I think it is. Some say that if you don’t rinse the diapers, they will stain but I have not had an issue with staining. If you do get stains, the sun is a wonderful stain remover! Simply put the diapers in the sun and it will bleach them out naturally.
When you’re out and about and your baby has a poopy diaper, what do you do? It’s easy. Change your baby’s diaper as you normally would, then simply put the soiled diaper in a wet bag (there are many brands and styles, I just linked to one). The wet bag traps the smell and contains the mess. Then, when you get home, simply rinse it out and place it in your diaper pail. Very simple and has never been an issue for us!
Cost Of Cloth Diapering

I mentioned earlier that we were able to build our diaper stash for about $500 – we spent about $800 on disposable diapers/wipes in my son’s first 11 months of life. There are some great cost comparison calculators that you can find. Here is one that is great. It is estimated that you can save between $1,000-$2,000 by using cloth diapers, and those savings multiply depending on how many children you cloth diaper.
Summary

As you have probably noticed, I really enjoy my cloth diapers. I love that they cost me next to nothing in the long run and I love that they are so cute! I especially love having the peace of mind that they are free from harsh chemicals and that I don’t have to deal with a really stinky garbage that pollutes the landfills. Cloth diapering is honestly very easy and not messy at all. I think if you tried it, you’d love it too! For those who are nervous about switching to cloth diapers, there are some brands of diapers that are “in-between.” Meaning, they lessen the impact on the environment but are not quite full cloth. Check out one brand, G Diapers (they are SO cute). One of the biggest reasons we didn’t do G Diapers is because they wouldn’t have had as much of a cost savings as doing full cloth would have had. For more information on cloth diapering, go to this Cloth Diaper 101
I hope cloth diapering seems a little less daunting now and, if you’ve made it this far…congratulations! :) Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and I’ll be sure to come back and answer them. Also, be sure to visit my natural living blog, Finding My Niche, where I’ll be posting about my cloth wipes next week!
**There is a fabulous sale right now on BumGenius diapers – they are buy 5 get 1 free until May 31st! That means instead of paying $104.70 for 6 diapers, you pay $86.90…an awesome deal! Go here for more details.
Thanks for having me, Jordan!

For cloth diapers 101 part 2 click HERE

Comments

  1. says

    Great post!

    I LOVE cloth diapers! They are easy to keep clean, they stink LESS than disposables and they are CHEAP! I use the cover and prefolds/flats system and it works great, even for overnight!

    When I first switched, I was really nervous about leaking and the “ew” factor. I’ve had less leaks and really, as a mom, don’t you have to deal with poop/spit up/vomit anyway? :)

    All-in-ones, like the bumgenius, are amazing for their convenience, but you can invest in a less expensive system if money is more of an issue. For my initial investment, I purchased Gerber prefolds and flats, a snappi (a pin-less fastener), and a few covers. I spent about $75. That’s for more frequent washing, though.

    My one piece of advice would be research, research, research. There’s a lot of good advice and lots of product reviews out there. Find what will work best for you and your family.

  2. says

    I jumped on the cloth diaper wagon with my 3rd (he was 5 months) and am using it for my newborn. They rock! Can you say “no blowouts”?
    There are cheaper pocket diaper options (google “alva cloth diapers”, “Kawaii cloth diapers” or “sun baby cloth diapers”) but they are made in china, so…
    Pocket diapers are super, super easy. I find with our hard water, I have to use powdered Tide (2 T in a top loader) to get them clean, but you may have to experiment to find what works for you. If you’re thinking of going with prefolds, I’d order diaper service quality ones from online–they’re way more absorbant!–and you can just lay them into a cover that velcro’s in the front like a disposable. Oh, and if you do formula feeding or when you start solids, you can just use flushable diaper liners to flush away the poo instead of a liner. SUPER easy!
    Good luck! There’s so much info out there!

  3. says

    Jordan
    I also love cloth diapering. Jillian’s Drawers, the site Kami used as the try for $10.00 also sells them used. Which is a great bargain, if you are trying to save a little. Just remember do a lot of research, and make sure you buy a diaper sprayer, seriously worth the money, I have even used for potty training accidents.
    one more note flushable diaper liners should not be used in septic systems.

  4. says

    Good comments – I forgot to mention that buying used is great! I got my newborn Kissaluv diapers used from Jillian’s Drawers and they’re seriously in perfect condition. They had some stains but I set them in the sun and the stains completely disappeared. That can be a great way to save money because they’re usually half the price and have only been used less than 3 weeks!

    I’m going to get some prefolds to use with our new baby because although I was scared of them at first, I’ve heard people love them. The main reason we chose BumGenius was because they have a trim fit so pants aren’t super bulky.

  5. says

    Geat job researching. I LURVE bum genius. They were so easy and so like a disposable that my friends didn’t mind them. I highly recommend someone who knows there stuff because there is so much out there that it can be overwhelming. I also recommend try a little of each style. 1 or 2 is what I would get of each style until I found the one I loved and then I stocked up.

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