PostPreScript: The words 'diaper' and 'nappy' are used interchangeably in this post. This is how things work in my head on a daily basis. I cannot commit to either type of English, so I compromise..
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program..
We are currently cloth diaperers. This is actually not because it seems to be a growing trend (though I can’t say the thought would have crossed my mind in seriousness if it weren’t for all the people I know who are also doing it successfully) or because we really want to save the planet, it’s because it makes financial sense for us to do so.
We made an initial investment which was relatively small, and that’s that! I don’t know how long these diapers will last us and I’m not holding my breath for them to last through 5 kids (or even two necessarily), but I know that we are saving money and that’s what we need to be doing (especially because we purchased our reusables in $$ and we'd be purchasing our disposables in ££). It also makes sense for us to do this because we do not pay a water bill, so are not adding any cost through extra laundry and toilet flushes :)
I know some of you will not care about these details, but because I often scoured the internet for information before we decided to do this, I thought (at the prompting of my hubby) that I’d do a quick (quick is a relative term, right?) post devoted to the process.
First, you have to get the diapers, and let me tell you:
All cloth diapers were not created equal.
I have tried some of them, so I thought I’d give you my two cents (pence!) on a few different styles.
Most of our diapers are BumGenius. I found very few negative reviews about these diapers in my early hunting and LOTS and LOTS of people who were raving about them. We have the one-size pocket diapers (there is a link below each diaper for more info).
In my seemingly endless searching for information and good deals, I came across Kelly’s Closet. It’s a very informative website and often has great deals on all kinds of diapers and starter kits which is where I got our diapers, so we didn’t even pay close to full price for them.
I can honestly say that I am very happy with our BumGenius diapers. They rarely leak (especially now that Aed’s thighs are a little chunkier :) and come with the regular insert plus a booster (which can be used as the infant insert at first). They are super easy, and aside from having to put the inserts in and, you know, wash them, they function just like disposables. The poppers on the front allow for the diapers to grow with the baby, so they last from birth to potty (unless you have a big baby.. then they might not last as long) or function for multiple children in the same house.
While I have been very pleased with these diapers, I have found some annoying things in the craftsmanship. For whatever reason, some of the Velcro and laundry tabs are of a higher quality than others. So some of my diapers seem like new, but if you look at the Velcro on others, it looks like we’ve been using them for ages and they often come undone and stick to other diapers in the wash. I’m not sure why there is such a difference between diapers and am disappointed by that. In my research, I have found that Cotton Babies (the maker of BumGenius) has great customer service and will send new tabs, etc. and even replace diapers if they see fit, but I have not pursued this.
If you are looking into cloth diapering, you may be tempted by these bad boys:
The all-in-ones are touted as the easiest system in existence because there is no stuffing at all, they function exactly as a disposable, minus the disposing, plus you can add liners if you desire for extra absorbency and it still won’t be directly on the baby’s skin. I don’t have personal experience with these, though some have said they wear out faster and I think they may be more expensive. But I can’t imagine there is anything easier!
In the UK they are really pushing cloth diapering, so a lot of areas have nappy trial packs that have been subsidized by the government and are way cheaper than buying that many reusable nappies. A friend of mine here (thanks Joy!) hooked me up with an organizer of the packs, so we were blessed to get a variety of 6 nappies for only £25, which is a fabulous deal and nicely padded our current supply.
I’m not sure if these are available in the States, but here’s my take on them for my UK buddies…
The first is the Lollipop PopnGro one-size nappy.
Same idea as the BumGenius one-size, but it’s not a pocket diaper. This is a pretty good diaper. For some reason it seems to leak a lot. It is nice and soft, but just doesn’t seem to fit Aed’s body very well. Also, while the booster is very soft, it is also very thick, so you end up with a ton of material between your kid’s legs. But, it seems a good quality, so we’ll see if as Aed grows it starts working better.
Next is the Micro nappy
These are shaped nappies that require a cover. I really like this one. They are sized however, so you have to buy more as your kid grows, but because of that you don’t use the same ones for as long so theoretically, they last longer overall. This one has never leaked (even with splurgy newborn poos!) and the cover fits the diaper really well. The Velcro is great and the diaper stays soft even without a dryer. We have a similar version of this diaper in the next size up, but it is made of bamboo.. I haven’t tried it yet because Aed isn’t big enough, but I have been told that bamboo is super absorbent, but slow to dry. So if you have a dryer, it’s a great material to invest in for your diapers.
This nappy is Popolini’s one-size nappy. Ours is organic cotton, but is not green! It’s just kind of off-white (au natural).
Love. This. Diaper. If I had tried this type of diaper before we bought the BumGeniuses, I would have just bought a bunch of these. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I do! There are several ways to fold it so that it can fit your baby at any size and there are poppers (poppers are key.. while you can’t always get an exact fit like you can with Velcro, my prediction is that they will hold out much longer than my Velcro diapers.. I’ll let you know.. there are also lots of one-size pocket diapers like FuzziBunz, etc that use poppers rather than velcro..) that face both ways on the tabs to accommodate the folding variations. It is nice and soft (though it does get crunchy without a dryer, this is a downside for us) and also has never leaked. The Lollipop cover fits over it really well, and once he gets big enough, we’ll move up a size in covers but use the same nappies. I think these are a really cost effective way of diapering because you’re only buying one set of diapers and two sets of covers (which are way cheaper than the diapers), plus you don’t have to mess with putting inserts into pockets or pulling them out and trying not to get your hands poopy, you just toss the thing into the pail (though you do still have to rinse if there’s poo, of course :) and that’s that. One downside is there is nothing separating your baby’s skin from the wet material. You can use a paper liner, but they just get wet as well, so I assume you’d want to use a diaper cream to protect the little hiney overnight.
Next is the Itti Bitti D’Lish Snap-In-One
This diaper is lovely and soft on the outside, not so much on the inside. It is marketed as being super slim and luxurious because of the materials they use. HOWEVER, I find it to be the one that consistently seems most uncomfortable on my baby. Perhaps this is again because we do not have a dryer. The outside stays really nice and soft, but the liners on the inside (which have super fun coordinating colored snaps depending on which insert/size you’re using) are SO hard after being washed. It is really slim compared to most diapers, but overall just seems so hard on him. I’ll let you know how it is if we ever get a dryer. Another downside, these are expensive and they are sized, so you have to buy three sets of diapers to make it birth to potty.
Also, I almost forgot.. If Aed poops while he’s wearing this diaper, it is guaranteed to go everywhere. This may be the dryer thing, but the inserts are so hard it’s like there’s nowhere for the poop to go. It’s gross. I try to only use this one when I don’t think he’s going to poop. Poop poop poop.
This next one is really fun if you love the sound of snaps and poppers as much as I do.. The Pop-In by Close Parent
This is a birth to potty diaper with some seriously hard-core Velcro. There is a good variety of inserts you can use and they all pop in and out with poppers. While I really like a lot of the features of this diaper, it’s another one that tends to leak. Maybe my kid just pees a lot.. I would still recommend it as a good diaper, you just have to play around a bit with the number of inserts to try to avoid the leaking. I don’t think I’d ever try to use this one overnight though (Actually, I'm sure I will at some point, but maybe not til the Aedster is a little bigger.. I'm not sure if you've noticed but if you have a skinny baby, it takes a little more finagling to get your cloth diapers to do their job). Also, it’s not a pocket, so your wet inserts are directly on baby’s skin.
There you go.. My take on some cloth diapers. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t.
Now, onto the practical usage.
What do you do with the diapers once baby has used them?
We use the dry pail method. A lot of the newfangled diapers have PUL covers that will break down very quickly if stored in water. I have a pail liner that is waterproof and keeps smells in, and the pail itself is just a stainless steel trash bin. If the diaper is just a pee diaper, all you have to do is take it apart/pull out inserts (depending on the type of diaper) and throw it in the pail. If it’s poopy, you just rinse it into the toilet and then throw it into the pail. I highly recommend a toilet sprayer for the rinsing so you have minimal touching (maybe that's not a thing for you, but I have issues with touching all kinds of things.. poop, pee, raw meat, squishy foods, etc). There’s a lot of options with these.. the super expensive BumGenius sprayer, the do-it-yourself tutorial on how to make a sprayer, the bidet sprayer, etc.
We have had some trouble figuring out what to do since we’re too lazy to figure out if the tubes that go in and out of the toilet are the same size here as they are in the States.. so for now, Ian is the poopy diaper rinser. I wipe the poop, he rinses the poop. I think we will eventually get a sprayer though, because I hear the worst is yet to come in this area. Sidenote: if it’s just breastmilk poo, it is apparently sanitary enough to just throw into the washing machine without rinsing.. sadly, we are no longer in that stage.
Next comes washing the diapers. This should be done about every other day. Detergent type is important, as residues can build up on the materials of the diapers and cause them to leak. The fewer ingredients the better. Here in escotia, we use Ecover, but I hear there are way more options en los estados unidos. Not surprising. (Though there probably would be more options if we lived in a bigger city that carried more varieties.. you have to keep my complaints in context.. St Andrews is a very impractical place to live.. Fun to visit, impractical to live in.. I mean, how far can you really get with 43 coffee shops, 32 high end fashion stores, 89 pubs, 16 grocery stores, and a few ice cream joints thrown in for good measure? disclaimer.. numbers may be slightly inaccurate)
You don’t have to use much detergent at all.. the amount depends on the type of washing machine you have. ¼ the recommended amount for a front loader, and ½ for a top loader. I just do a cold cycle and then a hot cycle with an extra rinse. If the diapers seem like they’re leaking a lot, I add some vinegar where the softener would go if I were washing a regular load (don’t use softener on your diapers!). You can also add baking soda instead of detergent to the first cycle if they’re starting to smell weird.
Then, easy peasy, hang them to dry! Once they’re dry, you just put them back together and throw them in your diaper drawer and you’re ready to go.
Tip #749: Hang your diapers horizontally rather than vertically to extend the life of the elastic.
That’s it! I’m happy to answer any questions about details I didn’t get into if anyone is curious, but let me tell you, if this unmotivated mom can cloth diaper.. anyone can! :)