Friday, July 23, 2010

Cloth Diapering- Easier Than You Might Think!

Audrey at Two Months Wearing Fuzzi Bunz!
I love cloth diapering!  I have been diapering Audrey in cloth since she outgrew newborn disposables.  We do use disposables for times when we run out of cloth, when she is in a nursery or when carrying around dirty cloth diapers would be inconvenient.  I imagine she is in her cloth diapers 85-95% of the time. 

Like many new moms, I was very interested in cloth diapering but was afraid it would be a mistake.  I was afraid it would be so gross that I would regret spending so much up front for my diapering system.  I knew once I invested a lot in diapers there was no going back!  I was also unsure about their performance- I was not interested in spending a lot on leaky diapers!  My fears were put to rest however when we took the plunge and tried Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers.  I spent hours reading and comparing all the available options and found Fuzzi Bunz to be the best fit for us.  They are pricey (I paid between $18 and $20 per diaper) but with proper care, certainly pay for themselves over time.  Fuzzi Bunz were similar in price to other pocket diapers and all in ones (AIO).  They are far more expensive then classic prefolds that are used with diaper covers, but for the convenience and comfort to baby I think the pocket diapers are worth the extra cash.  I have since tried an AIO diaper and another brand of pocket diapers, both of which I was unhappy with.  My daughter refuses to wear the particular AIO I purchased as it is rougher against her skin than the fleece of the Fuzzi Bunz.  The other pocket diaper I tried is acceptable, but the proportions make it not fit as well as Fuzzi Bunz.

Pocket diapers are made of two layers between which you insert the absorbent pad (or pads) that will determine how much the diaper will hold.  The customization is great!  For smaller children who wet less at a time, the single liner or insert is perfect.  For overnight use you can add a doubler or soaker pad to hold more moisture.  Now that my daughter is 2, I find that the single insert is not enough and I use two inserts or an insert with a doubler around the clock.  This does make for a bulkier diaper, but I don't think she minds.  Each diaper comes with one insert and doublers are sold separately.  Of all the doublers I have tried, I love my hemp ones (BabyKicks Hemparoo Joey Bunz) the most because they are very absorbent.

Fuzzi Bunz are made with a soft fleece layer on top (against baby's skin) that rarely stains and helps to keep baby a little drier.  They have snaps rather than Velcro which is nice during laundering and the snaps are harder for little hands to open- a huge plus!  When I purchased them, the one size fits all option was not available so I purchased smalls and now Audrey is wearing mediums.  I did buy one of the one size diapers recently and really like it.  It has elastic in the leg that can be easily adjusted for a snug or loose fit.  I can't imagine this diaper on a tiny newborn, but I am sure it will continue to fit my daughter until she is no longer wearing diapers.  If I had it to do over, I would probably still have purchased the smalls and then the one size diapers once she outgrew the smalls.

One problem I have encountered is the elastic not standing up to so much washing and wear.  I found a tutorial online showing how to replace the elastic.  It was a pain to do, but will add a not of use to my diapers.  Compared to spending $18 or more per diaper again, I can spend a few hours replacing the elastic! 

Another thing I love about cloth diapering is using cloth wipes!  They are so thick and so much cheaper than disposable wipes.  Also I use half as many cloth wipes getting her really clean than I do with disposables.  I found the thicker terry cloth wipes to be the best.  I simply wet a handful of wipes with tap water and store them in a wipes warmer.  I found no need to make a cleaning solution to soak them in.  I sometimes will add a few drops of tea tree oil to the wipes (making sure it is diluted with the water).  When I feel she needs a little more than just the wet wipes I will use a diaper spray such as California Baby to get her extra clean.  I use a large trash can with a lid that can be operated with a foot pedal.  Inside the can I use a cloth diapering pail liner that I take out and wash with each diaper load. 

Washing cloth diapers isn't that bad.  I find that if you don't have too many diapers you will wash more often and the smell will not get as strong.  When Audrey was little I remember being pleasantly surprised at how her diapers did not smell that bad.  Especially for exclusively breastfed babies this is true.  Now that she is older, the ammonia smell is pretty tough but I think it is still worth it.  I would strongly recommend using disposable gloves for processing your diapers!  I don't separate the liners from the pockets when I am changing diapers so wearing gloves to do it as I put them in the washer is a big help.  I add all my diapers and wipes to the load and run a prewash cycle with no soap before adding the pail liner to the main wash.  I use Charley's Soap because it doesn't have any fragrances or garbage that we try to avoid in laundry detergent and it leaves no residue to irritate baby's delicate skin.  It is also very economical and concentrated.  So after the prewash, I run a heavy wash cycle on hot with vinegar in place of fabric softener and a second rinse at the end. 

To dry them I throw my diapers, wipes and liner in the dryer and run them on low heat for about 20 minutes.  Then I take out the diapers (usually almost dry at this point) and the liner and dry the inserts and doublers a little longer.  Usually the doublers will still be damp so I hang them to finish drying.  I store everything in a large basket in the bathroom (where I change diapers) and sort them into smaller baskets when I have a minute.  It really is convenient and not throwing so much away just feels good.
One of my biggest fears about cloth diapering was what to do with poop!  I didn't want to get a toilet sprayer attachment- that just seemed so messy and gross.  When Audrey was not on solids yet, the poop would simply wash away in the laundry.  Once she got older I started changing her in the bathroom (more convenient for practicing early potty training or elimination communication) where I could dump any solids into the toilet.  Now that she is 2, she is pooping in her diaper less and using the toilet more and when she does mess up and use her diaper it is usually easy to just plop it in the toilet.  The poop aspect of cloth diapering is not pleasant but for me it was not a deal breaker.  Also, it is your child's poop and as a mom God gives you a special grace to deal with it!

To determine the number of cloth diapers to purchase count (or estimate) how many diapers you use within a 24 hour period.  Then determine how often you want to wash and give yourself a cushion to allow for the washing and drying time.  We started out using 12 diapers and then felt the need to add 6 more.  Eighteen was certainly enough for our frequency of washing.  To determine the number of wipes to buy estimate how many wipes you use at each change and multiply that by how many changes you will need between washings.  You really never can have too many cloth wipes as they can be used for household cleaning as well as for diaper changes.  While my daughter is on the toilet I will often grab a wipe to clean the mirror or wipe down the counter and just toss it in the diaper pail when finished.  Cloth wipes are so economical and are such a step up from disposable ones!

Websites selling cloth diapers abound!  I have found that larger sites such as Kelly's Closet are a one stop shop, often offering free shipping with a minimum order.  They also carry all the accessories you will need such as doublers, diaper pail liners, etc and even cloth products for mommies too!

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