Monday, December 07, 2009

On Cloth Diapering

Amelie 4.19.05

Since I started this post on August 1, 2008, it's high time that I finish it, dontcha think?

As I'm nearing the end of my diapering career (at least I HOPE that I am--in more ways than one), I think I'll share my thoughts and experiences with cloth diapering. Recently, I received an email from my friend, Kristi, who is expecting her first baby in the near future. She asked a series of questions which I've pasted here in this post. I think they'll work quite nicely in giving a summary of our cloth diapering career.

To start, the best advice we received, was to wait to start with cloth diapering until your baby is two months old. At that point, the pooping is less frequent and therefore the cleaning out and washing of diapers is less daunting of a task. We waited at least this long with each child and have been willing to stick it out for the long haul. I've heard of many folks that start using cloth diapers with their brand new baby, are so overwhelmed with the task and are overcome by the desire for the ease of disposables, that they throw in the towel and do away with cloth diapering all together. Having a brand new baby is incredibly overwhelming and we were so thankful for this recommendation.

OK, here are Kristi's questions interspersed with my rambling answers:
1. What type of cloth diapers have you used - prefold, fitted, all-in-ones? If you have tried multiple types, which is your favorite? and 2. Do you have a favorite brand?

Primarily, we've used pre-folded diapers from Gerber. We found a good deal on a package of all-in-ones sometime back, and found that we didn't like them. They weren't supposed to be bleached and therefore didn't get very clean. We decided that since they were so cheap ( a 5-pack for $15 down from $50) we'd take our chances in bleaching them. We did, they got cleaner, but still never as clean as the Gerber ones. With the Gerber pre-folds, we've used four types of wraps or covers which have all been fitted and closed with either snaps or velcro. (Duncan's stipulation with cloth diapers was that there be NO PINS! And we've managed to avoid pins completely.) The four types and my reviews of them are as follows:
*Gerber (discontinued, as far as I know)--they were fine for a while, relatively inexpensive, however over time the velcro became quite sharp so that it irritated baby's skin. Also, the waterproofing wore off over time.
*Especially For Baby (Babies R Us brand--also discontinued)--these were softer and didn't have the velcro issue, however they weren't tight enough around the legs to always control leaks and they seemed more water resistant than water proof
*Bumkins--my favorite by far. The velcro tabs are such that they don't irritate, waterproofing hasn't worn off (bought them three years ago), have lasted, are the most expensive. (On another note, Bumkins also makes some of my favorite bibs!)
*I don't remember the name of the fourth kind, but they looked like this (the ones with the snaps)--these were great as well, were expensive, and lasted for all three kids. Although by the time Linus had outgrown the last one, it was on its last leg, had to go in the trash and couldn't be passed on.

3. How did you handle changing dirty cloth diapers while away from the house?
With Amelie, we were gung-ho and used cloth diapers all the time except for overnights away from home. I carried plastic bags with me--sometimes a grocery-type bag, other times a ziplock that I reused. I would used regular wipes to clean up the child and then fold up the dirty diaper in the wrap like you would a disposable (since the wrap was usually dirty and couldn't be reused), put it in the bag and would clean it out at home.

4. Did you use cloth wipes too? If so, how did you use them?
With Amelie, we did use cloth wipes. We bought two dozen little white wash cloths and folded twelve of them them in on each other so that they'd pop out of a Pampers wipes container. Then we'd made this solution in an old Koolaid crystal container:
a teaspoon of baby wash
a teaspoon of baby lotion
fill the container 2/3-full of warm water
put on lid and shake vigorously
pour over folded wipes already in Pampers container

After use, these wipes could be put in the diaper pail and be bleached along with the diapers. We did this for Amelie and some for Violet. Since then, we've just used regular wipes. The biggest drawback with using store-bought wipes is that it makes the bathroom trashcan stinky, as the wipes can't be flushed.

A few more thoughts:
Diaper wraps can be used multiple times before washing. I generally don't use them twice in a row. Rather, I let them dry out before reusing. Obviously, when poop gets on them, they are banished to the washing machine.

The Diaper Duck is a fabulous contraption. Buy one.

As I've already mentioned, we were super gung-ho with using cloth with Amelie, as she was our first and only at the time. As we've added to our family, we've become more relaxed (lazy?) and have used more disposables along the way. My philosophy is that any amount of cloth diapering that you do is good for the landfills and good for your budget.

We used them overnight, at home, until Amelie was 10 months old. At that point, she started leaking through by 11 o'clock nearly every night. They sell "overnight" cloth diapers and inserts and things. We just decided to put her in a disposable from then on and have followed suit with subsequent children.

When using exclusively cloth diapers, we had to wash them about twice a week. We rinse and spin the diapers and then wash them on a vigorous cycle with detergent and bleach.

We've had two basic diaper pails during our career. The first we would fill 1/3 of the way with water and add a splash of vinegar. (This drastically cut down on the odor.) There were two drawbacks, however. This pail with diapers and water was extremely heavy. We kept it upstairs (that's where the changing table was) and I often had visions of slipping while carrying a full pail down to the laundry room. Fortunately that never happened. The other drawback was that, with all of the moisture, the pail got very mildewy and wouldn't come clean. We ended up pitching it, conferring with a cloth diapering friend, and started NOT filling it with water. Also, after every load, we wipe out the pail with disinfectant wipe. This has prevented the growth of mildew in our second pail.

So there you go. I'd love to answer questions that anyone might have. Feel free to leave them as a comment or to e-mail me. If I get enough questions, I may just have to do a follow-up post!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your comments on cloth diapering. I really wanted to use cloth diapers with Alyssa, but couldn't find a way to make it work. Between the Health Dept rules at the daycare and having to pay for our laundry, I felt kind of stuck with disposables. Congratulations to you for sticking with it. Great job!

Anonymous said...

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