Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I have gotten a couple of requests to talk about cloth diapering, so here goes. First read this, then read this. Done.

Just kidding, sort of. For real, Kristina was my cloth diapering guru. If you could see how many emails when had on the subject when I was pregnant, you might think we were a little crazy. (On her part, mostly just for humoring my crazy-ness.) For real though, if you want to hear more, read those posts, then I will add on to our experience below. (Warning, I talk about P O O P.)

Ok, done?

First of all let me reiterate what Kristina said; SO SO SO EASY. When my neighbor/friend saw my baby registry she said (all knowingly) "so you are going to try and cloth diaper, huh?" me "yeah" her "you will give up. no one does it. you know Michelle [her very hippie friend] she gave up, and she doesn't use disposable anything."

This conversation baffled me. How did my neighbor think that a whole industry of products was supported on people trying something then giving up? Surely some people successfully cloth diaper?

Yeah, no. It is so easy guys.

For those of you that don't know, there are loads of different cloth diapers these days. I am familiar with two kinds: there are the classic prefolds (contrary to their title, they do not come prefolded. You prefold them before putting them on the babe.) These are just the flat cloths that you fold and wrap onto the bottom. Then you use a water resistant cover over them, or a cute wool cover. Since the cloth diaper itself absorbs the liquid, you can reuse the cover through several changings before it needs to be washed.  They come in a variety of sizes. Oh, you can also buy ones like these that have snaps, so you don't have to do the fancy folding. They still need a cover.

Then there are the pocket diapers. These are the fuzzi bunz that kristina talks about, and Henry is wearing above. They have a shell with snaps, an inner fleece lining that drys fast and keeps baby a little more dry, and a super absorbent liner that you stuff into the pocket. The whole diaper gets washed at each washing with one of these. These also come in a variety of sizes, but they also make a "one size" with adjustable straps and buttons. You can read about one size vs fitted here.

From the advice of K and others, I knew that we wanted to go with Fuzzi Bunz. Since I wasn't sure (still am not) if we would ever use the dipes more than once, I was hesitant to buy more than one size of the pricey (when compared with pre folds) fuzzi bunz, but knew from others' experience that he would not fit into one-size  fuzzi-bunz from birth. So we opted to use pre folds for the first couple of months, until he fit well into his one size fuzzis.

I have to tell you, we did not have a great experience with the pre folds. We could *not* get them to contain the liquidy breast milk poo that greeted us several times a day. So we were constantly having blow outs, having to wash the covers and his pants all the time. It was such a pain in the ass. We couldn't get them tight enough around the legs, and because we opted for a diaper service for the first month or two, we even had professional help. It didn't really help. So we ended up using a lot of seventh gen's in those first months. That said, there are loads of families out there who use and love them, so it must have been user error?

We were thrilled, to say the least, when he started fitting into his bunz. They actually give us less blow outs than the 7th gen disposables did. In fact I don't even know for sure if we have ever had poop leakage with our bunz.

Some notes: (Note that I am only adding onto what Kristina has already said, so if you need a comprehensive guide READ THOSE LINKS)

-We have about 18-20. Not sure on the exact number. We do a wash a little less than every other night. We almost never use disposables. I thought we would, say when we were out? No reason to, really. Cary a small (or medium if we are gone for the day) wet bag with us, then deal with it when we get home.

-Yeah, they were a big upfront inverstment (several hundred?) but come on. Surely we would have spent waaaaaay more than that by now on disposables.

-If we are traveling in the car for 2-3 nights tops, we still use our cloth. Sure a bag full of dirty dipes in the back of the car is a leeeeetle gross, but whatevs. It doesn't bother us.

-We hang a large wet bag on the door inside the bathroom. No pails or pail liner. Just throw the dipes in there, then wash the bag along with the dipes every other dipes washing.

-We have a sprayer but haven't installed it yet. Breastmilk poops don't need it, the poop will rinse away with that first cold cycle in the wash. Now that he is starting to have big boy poops, we have to scrape some off into the toilet. Should probably get around to installing the sprayer, but part of me hopes they will all be "ploppable" soon.

-You may recall we had issues at night with leakage. (When H was tiny, we diligently changed him every time he woke up to nurse. haaaaaa! He doesn't seem to be bothered by one dipe all night. Way less bothered than being changed while sleepy.) I can now report we have a good system: tripple stuffed bunz (yeah, you can put more than one absorbent liner in there to soak it on up!) with a wool cover over. For this you just need a few extra liners on hand (we like these thin and absorbent hemp ones) and two wool covers. The wool covers need to be washed only every couple of weeks. But since they take a while to dry, you will need two have an extra on hand to use while the other one dries.

-You can read how to wash your woolies here. It also includes instructions on making your own wool wash, which I have been doing since I had all the ingredients but no wool wash on hand.

-Luckily H isn't prone to diaper rash, but when he gets it we use grandma els which works great and does not seem to harm the fleece liners.

-We do use cloth wipes. I thought we would not, but I have no idea why??? They are super easy. We are already doing the laundry, it does not add any. Saves money, and I know exactly what is going on our baby's bottom. Use em dry, or just put a little warm water on them, or make a solution and keep it nearby in a squirt bottle! (We use a recipe suggested by Christina with lavender oil, tee tree oil, a bit of apricot oil, and some almond bronners. Check this link out.)

-I know some mamas prefer non-synthetic materials. If so, fuzzi's are not your choice. Also I know our nanny's babe is sensitive to the fleece liner, so she has to use something else. Makes me think it would be best to start with one or two, just in case, before  you invest in them all.

I think that covers it. I will probably add notes as I think of them, though maybe in the comments so that people don't miss them. Feel free to add your own notes! What has your cloth experience been? Favorite products?


  1. great post. it's always nice to see how others are using the cloth dipes. we're still using a diaper service since we have a coin-op w/d. we fold the prefold and use our fuzzis or grovia as covers. works pretty good! we still put W in a disposable at night. sometimes he pees out of that, though, so we've been considering doubling him up.

  2. I think I might feel a bit more up for this if we had a little laundry room. As it is, it seems like a lot of hands on mess in a pretty small apartment. Do diaper services work out to cost about the same as disposables? I do hate the idea of so much waste.

  3. I use a combination of bumgenius and fuzzis. I'm happy with both but we're dealing with a stink problem at the moment. How do you wash/ strip yours? I started out using charlies soap but I recently switched to rockin green. I have a front loader and I find it's hard to get enough water through the dipes with an HE machine. The ammonia smell is difficult to get rid of.

  4. Thanks so much for the run-down! I'm not dealing with diapers yet but I am so glad that you have posted this well-linked reference!

  5. I agree its so much easier than I thought it would be- and I found myself getting a little irritated with the 'oh that will last a month' comments we got at the start- 7 months in we are still going strong. Not sure if you can get in the US but really recommend Cheeky Wipes for re-usable wipes (brilliant and even easier than the nappies) and Close Parent nappies which I have found to be brilliant. Love your blog.

  6. We use Bum Genius (weekends only as daycare won't accept them) and love them. Easy to use and no issues with our nealy 5 month old. The OS (one size) only recently fit well (so that she was not engulfed in diaper) on her 13 pound body. We only have 12 diapers now and I have not yet decided if we will get more or just plan to wash nightly.

  7. i love using cloth diapers! I got a lot of comments about not lasting too! Honestly i even enjoy washing them! Besides the stinky, its nice sitting down and putting them all back together. I also use flushable liners when i expect a poop it makes everything even easier, and most you can get a couple more uses out if its just pee. I have quite an assortment, some grovia AIO,they fit the best when the baby was little, but don't have the fleece, so baby is wet. Happy Hienys, they leak for us quite a bit, ive heard people rave of them on their older babies so i assume it might just be a fit issue, Rumparoos, I love these, they have a gusset it them, i specifically use these at night, had good luck with fuzzy buns fitteds too, i even got these used and theyve worked great, bum genius work well too, their inserts are thinner then the others though and i ahave some tots bots that have worked really well, their inserts are attached and arent as fleecy, but they fit really well and have really cute prints! I do laundry every other day. We have an HE machine and i've found soaking everytime even for a short period of time with rocking green and doing an extra rinse or two works to get the stink out! I use grandma els too, it works great and smells awesome, like strawberry shortcake dolls!

  8. This is great! We cloth diaper and love it. We never use disposables and I don't think I will even buy disposables when we have another baby. We LOVE sbish wool and snapless fitteds. We also use BG 4.0s and ragababes. I had a few of the sized FB but I didn't love them. You name it, we've tried it and I've finally settled on my favorites. Cloth wipes are great too and like you said.. really aren't extra work when you are already cloth diapering. Check out ragababe cloth wipes.. so soft!

  9. @Erica -- I have hard water and a front loader, and the SAME problem. Recurrent diaper stink. I just got a tip from some local moms that RLR Laundry Treatment is supposed to work magic for this, so I ordered some and will give it a try.

    Other recommendations were to rinse liberally (using a diaper sprayer) or to soak in a pail of water before washing, and to add extra rinses to the wash cycles (I already do 3 extra rinses!).

    I have fitted diapers with Imse Vimse covers, and Bum Genius Elements all-in-ones. Now that baby is verging on toddlerhood (and no more runny breast milk poo), I prefer the ease of the all-in-ones. We totally failed at prefolds during the newborn stage and ended up using the (kinda too-big) fitteds instead.

  10. Yay! Thanks for this post! I've already read Kristina's posts so now I feel like we have a full-on manual for when/if we start cloth diapering. (Still a week or so from having baby.)

  11. There are major future bonus points for cloth diapering, too! My 14-year old came home from school (working on school-wide project on waste) and said, "I was the only kid at my school that was cloth diapered!" Man, did he feel good about himself! It was like a little invisible hippie badge he could wear, and I believe it somehow gave him more cred with the Earth girls at school ;)

  12. So, WOW. How late am I to this party?! (I think you posted this while I was in Mexico or something, James.)

    I'm so happy that my crazy over-advising satisfied your non-crazy questions. And I'll say that you're more hardcore than I am, but we've just passed the two year mark and are still going strong! And, in three months, we'll have two kids in cloth diapers. Which seems normal to me, actually.

    I will say that I would highly recommend investing in a toilet sprayer now that H is likely eating lots more food and taking much bigger, stinkier poops. I use it all the time now, though I didn't when Dashie was little.

    Notes for other peeps, (if anyone stumbles upon this later) -
    We use a disposable at night still. Dashie IS prone to diaper rash and being in a FB all night would probably be enough to start the redness every time. But I will say that Seventh Gen diapers f-ing suck and leak like crazy. We use Earth's Best and never ever have a problem.

    We also use disposable wipes. When D was little, I felt like the natural solution I was making for cloth wipes was actually giving him diaper rash, and Seventh Gen wipes ended up being the only ones that his little bum tolerated. Now that we're in big poop land, I can't imagine washing the wipes. But who knows, I mean most people can't imagine washing the diapers.

    For anyone who's considering it... as long as you have your own W/D, you can totally do it with very little effort.

  13. i came back to this post, so i hope someone is keeping tabs. i started with prefolds on my twins with thirsties covers. they're 3 months old and just now started to barely fit into the covers. but these kids are like leaky faucets, they pee a tiny bit literally every 15 minutes and will NOT tolerate bring wet. so given that there are 2 of them, i have about 10 minutes of peace before i am changing a diaper, again! i went through about 14 prefolds in 2-3 hours, and there was even a 30 min nap somewhere in there too. i have the same problem with the bum genius flip stay-dry inserts too, it feels dry-ish to my and but baby hates it

    so, how often are you changing your baby? what about when they were little, like mine? i don't want to give up on cloth, and i'm tired of paying for and using disposables, especially since i already put in the investment for the cloth.

    1. OH MY GOD my first thought was, she has twins? and she is charging it? AMAZING.

      lady, i am not help. H does not seem to care about being wet, and once he got through that tiny baby pooping all day every day phase, and once we lightened up (probably around 3+ months?) we just kind of let him go till we know that he will leak soon. (2-3 hours)

      maybe just buy one of the pocket dipes that has a stay dry fleece liner and see if they tolerate that longer? but maybe that is no different from the stay dry insert?

      i am sorry i wish i could help!if nothing else, if you end up having to use disposables, maybe check back in with the cloth once a month? so that when they start peeing in less frequent bursts you can get back into them?

      ah, i wish i could offer something else....