Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dish on Diapers

I've been working on this post for a while.  Cloth diapering is one of my newest loves.  Maybe you are interested in checking out cloth diapering options.  Maybe you think I'm absolutely insane for switching to cloth. I don't know...I just hope this post can help you learn more about cloth diapering and maybe, just maybe, encourage you to make the switch (or at least quit saying, "ick" "gross" "yuck" "it's too hard" every time someone mentions cloth diapers).

Here is the reason we switched to cloth diapers:  IT SAVES MONEY!  This is not an exaggeration.  I could no longer justify the amount of money we were spending on disposable diapers.  I am a stay-at-home-mom, and really, what's one more load of laundry? For less than $200 (and I could have done it for way less), I purchased enough diapers to keep Klaw in cloth for 2 days.  I didn't buy them all at once which kept the start-up cost to a minimum.  This way, I gave myself time to get used to the cloth routine and finished using up the disposable diapers I had on hand.  Also, if Chris & I decide to have another child, we already have a full set of cloth diapers that we can use so we won't have to waste money on a bunch of diapers a second time around.  Also, once we are done with diapering for good, I'll most likely be able to resell the diapers and recoup some of the money I have spent.

Some bonuses to using cloth: Since using cloth diapers, we have had no big, up the back, rooster tail assplosions from Klaw. We do not have to change diapers in the middle of the night because he's soaking wet. We don't have several bags of dirty diapers filling up our trash can. Also, fluffy butts are so stinkin' cute!

I'm going to do my best to provide you with some cloth diapering resources.  There are SO MANY options these days.  You can go super cheap and it's STILL better than what our parents would have had to use on us when we were babies.  It can be totally overwhelming at first just because of all the options.  However, I am really glad we made the switch to cloth.  Even if you only use cloth part-time, you will still save a ton of money.  Not having a bunch of disposable diapers (sposies) sitting in a landfill for centuries is a nice bonus.

The Types:

Prefolds & covers - this is the closest thing to what used to be the only option:  a multi-layered absorbant cloth insert and a waterproof outer shell.  This is also the cheapest option because you can get by with only purchasing 2-4 covers and a bunch of prefolds (Indian prefolds or chinese prefolds - order online & skip the crappy gerbers.  Gerber prefolds make excellent burp cloths & that's about it, in my opinion.  The covers only need to be wiped out unless poop gets on them.  Gdiapers are probably the most "famous" because Toys-R-Us sells them, but they are not loved by all.  I have a couple of Flip covers and I am very happy with them.

Pocket diapers - these diapers are one-use diapers, unlike the covers & prefolds.  They literally have a pocket where you stuff an absorbent insert (microfiber, bamboo, hemp, etc) and then put it on your baby.  These come in a variety of sizes, styles, brands and run the gamut in prices.  I have mostly BumGenius 4.0 pockets and Kawaii pockets.  Kawaii & Sunbaby are two of the cheapest that seem to have decent quality - GoGreen has been popping up on my radar, too, but I don't know anyone that has tried them.  Fuzzibunz are another quality brand and there are many, many, many more.  Each brand has a slightly different fit and some will work better for your baby than others.  This is my preferred style of diaper.  I like it because I can wash everything, hang the covers on a drying rack & by the time the inserts are dry in the dryer, the covers have dried on the rack.  Line/rack drying helps preserve the elastic in the diapers.

AIO (all in one) - this diaper is exactly what it sounds like.  It is the closest to using a sposie because there is no stuffing pockets; you just put the diaper on & go.  It is also the most expensive option. I have one AIO (BG Elemental) and, although it is very trim-fitting & works fine, it takes for-freaking-ever to dry and I will not buy any more.

AI2 (all in two) - this is kind of a cover/prefold & AIO hybrid.  It has a waterproof cover and typically an insert that snaps in and as long as there's no poopy, you can just take the insert out & put in another one. I have four by Lil' Pooligans (Work At Home Mom - WAHM) - two I purchased new & two I purchased used. I've also ordered one by BunkyFluff (another WAHM).  WAHM diapers can run the gamut of price ranges but expect $20-30 new (sometimes more, but I think that's a bit out of my price range for stuff that gets pooped on).  I do love my Lil' Pooligans - the fit is great, as is the workmanship.  However, if you are keeping to a tight cloth diapering budget, WAHM diapers are going to be tough to add to your collection.

Fitteds - these are basically AIO dipes without the waterproof layer.  They are super absorbent, generally made by WAHMs and require a cover because they are NOT waterproof.  A lot of moms like these for night time; some are even absorbent enough that they don't bother with a cover at home.  I had two fitteds and sold them because it's not my favorite style.  Everything is a personal preference in the world of CDs.

Generally, two days worth of diapers is enough if you are looking to keep costs down.  For me, two days worth with a couple of extras means 24 diapers.  I have about 26 and am looking to round out my stash at 30.  Some moms have HUNDREDS of diapers...more power to ya', but that kind of defeats the cost-saving purposes.

Diaper trial kits:

Jillian's Drawers & Diaper Junction

There are other perfectly good stores that offer these trial kits - DJ is "local" to me in Virginia Beach.  I've ordered through them with no issues and JD has a good reputation.

Newborn diaper rentals:
I can't offer any recommendations here because I didn't start using CDs until Klaw was about 6 months old.  However, I can say that it will make more sense to rent newborn diapers or at least buy used.  Most standard diapers (like the ones that are adjustable for size) won't start fitting a baby well until about 8-12lbs, depending on the baby & the brand.  However, it doesn't usually take long for most babies to make it to that weight range.  I honestly don't know if I'll use sposies or CDs if/when I have a second child for that newborn stage.  Klaw was over 8lbs when he was born and the NB sposies only fit him for a couple of weeks.

Nell's Natural Baby & Sunshine Diapers

Again - there are more stores that offer this option.  I listed these two just to give you an idea.

Used diapers/seconds:
A LOT of stores will offer these.  I actually bought a used BumGenius Elemental from Diaper Junction in EUC and, I kid you not, it was brand new as far as I'm concerned. Almost any diaper store (especially if they have diaper trial kits) will sell used/second quality diapers.  You can also buy used diapers from other moms via BabyCenter & DiaperSwappers. (you do have to join to have access to both of these groups) Both DiaperSwappers & BabyCenter are good places to get questions answered - this BabyCenter group is public.

Diaper friendly detergents:  The following two charts are pretty good resources for finding a diaper safe detergent.  I personally have been using Ecover Delicate liquid with good results (standard top loading machine).  I tried regular Ecover liquid for a while (it's less expensive) but had build-up which caused repelling issues.  A lot of people use original Tide powder with excellent results and, by all accounts, it should be horrible for diapers.  A lot of it has to do with your water (hard or soft), your machine, baby's skin sensitivity, & your wash routine.  If you already use something considered "okay" by the charts, I'd just try it and see if it works fine for your diapers.  I have All F&C for my regular clothes, but I decided to get the Ecover & only use it for my CDs (it's not as cheap and I can't get it at BJ's Wholesale lol).

Diaper Jungle
Pinstripes & PolkaDots

Diaper Creams - You do need to be careful about what you use for diaper rash when you are using cloth diapers because many of the standard creams & ointments can leave behind a residue that is very hard to remove & can cause bad stains and repel liquid.  Personally, I use California Baby products and love them.  Pure coconut oil is another favorite of CD moms and it does wash out thoroughly.  Sometimes, you may have a rash that needs prescription creams or heavy duty Desitin - in those cases, you would definitely need to use a diaper liner to form a barrier between the cream/ointment & the actual diaper. You can make or buy liners (Kushies have been my favorite, so far).  If you have washable ones, do not wash them with your cloth diapers because the cream/ointment may transfer to the diapers and cause repelling issues.

My wash routine:
Warm Soak Cycle – NO DETERGENT
Hot Wash – ½ cap of Ecover – NO SOFTENER OR ADDITIVES
Cold Rinse
2nd Cold rinse
Hang dry Pockets & covers
Dry inserts/AIO/AI2 on low/gentle heat - NO SOFTENER SHEETS

I wash every 2 days and my machine is a standard top loader (a refurbished machine that has been going strong for about 6 years now).  If there is an ammonia smell or particularly poopy diapers, I'll add vinegar &/or BioKleen Bac-Out to the first soak cycle.  It takes a little trial & error to find the wash routine that will work best with your machine & water.  HE washing machines are a completely different beast - just remember water is your friend.  You can find more info about HE machines on some of the forums I mentioned earlier from moms who have been there & done that already.

Well, I'm going to wrap this up now.  If you have some favorite cloth diapers or any tips, please feel free to mention them in the comments.

Oh, and because he's so stinkin' cute:

For more info, please read The Dish on Diapers, Part Deux.
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