Monday, September 8, 2014

Cloth diapers: a love story:

Can we talk diapers for a second? Because since the birth of our little man, it has become a topic of great interest in our house. I love diapers (I'm probably alone in my obsession), specifically the cloth variety. I don't think this is a shock to anyone as this has been well documented (see here). And while I've mentioned my love on more than one occasion, I don't think I've ever gone into detail about how we landed here, what we like, and why. So, bear with me, I'm about to go all diaper nerd on you.

No one in my life used cloth diapers. I thought (like everyone else) that they were old fashioned. And then I did my research and learned that they have come so far since diaper pins and rubber pants. 

What started out as 6 white Bum Genius Elementals has turned into a colorful stash of super cute fluff. I have enjoyed this researching, discussing, and purchasing journey so much. Here is what I've learned:

We decided on 24 as a good number of diapers -- enough that we wouldn't have to do laundry every day but not so much that we wouldn't ever use all of them. We are almost to that number now and it has helped make me very conscious about what I buy and bring into our home. I don't get carried away and buy things because they are on sale or a cute color/print. I buy what works best for us so that our stash is the best it can be (it also happens to be very cute). One of the major reasons we started using cloth diapers was to save money and having a limit on how many diapers we purchase helps us stick to that goal. I've found it's very easy to get carried away otherwise. 

We decided to buy one of a few different brands and see what worked best for us. Almost all of them have been great. There are a few that I'm not crazy about. The great thing about cloth diapers is that they have great resale value so I can sell the ones I don't love to make room for more of the ones that I do. Cloth diaper swapping is a real thing. And it's awesome. I don't feel bad about taking chances on new brands any more because I know if I don't love it, someone else out there probably does and will gladly take it off my hands.

It took us a while to figure out our setup but now that we've been at it for awhile, I feel pretty confident that we've found the sweet spot. Granted it's different for everyone, but here is what works best for us:

We use one size all-in-ones for day time diapers because they are easiest to change, there's nothing extra to keep track of, and there's no folding or stuffing (I hate stuffing). Just take the old one off and put the new one on. Done and done. We like snaps on our diapers but my mom, who keeps M during the week, really likes the ones with velcro tabs. We have both and haven't had problems with either. For night time diapers, we use fitted and covers (both with snaps) because they are more absorbent.

We currently have 21 all-in-ones. Our favorites are Blueberry Simplex, Bum Genius Elementals, Tots Bots, and Smartbottoms. We also have 3 hemp Pooters fitteds that we use for night time, and 3 waterproof covers.

We keep all the clean diapers in a cart by the changing table (dresser with changing pad) and hang a wet bag on the other side for dirty diapers. We use cloth wipes (see here) and a bottle of water for cleaning. Those go in the wet bag with the dirty diapers and they all get laundered together. 

Speaking of laundry, we do a load of diapers every other day. I throw everything (including wet bag) into our front-loading HE washer and run a heavy-duty cycle: cold pre-rinse, hot wash, extra rinse. We really like Tide Free and Gentle powder detergent and have had no issues with stink or ammonia. We dry everything (except the covers which get air dried) on medium for one hour. Sometimes the fitted diapers need a little extra drying time after that initial hour but I usually take them out and let them air dry the rest of the way.

Our cloth diapering adventure has been a very enjoyable one for me. I would recommend it to anyone with diapering in their future. I've got a few tips to make it easier:
  1. Buy one of a couple different kinds of diapers to experiment and find what you like. Once you know what kind you like best, try different brands. Not all brands fit the same way or have the same absorbency. Once you find what works for you, buy more of those.
  2. Make sure you take the time to properly prep your diapers. Sometimes one wash/dry is enough but if your diapers are made of natural fibers, it may take longer. Some of ours took 5-7 washes before they were prepped. Don't skip this step unless you want leaks. The more you wash, the more absorbent your diapers will be.
  3. Decide what you want your diapers made out of. We like natural fibers (organic cotton, bamboo, hemp) but those diapers are a little more costly. Some people use microfiber and it works just fine for them. Some kids have sensitivities to man-made stuff. Some kids don't like the wet feeling that natural fibers give them. It's all trial and error.
  4. Find a good cloth diaper safe rash cream. I like California Baby, the green tube of Butt Paste, and the Grovia Magic Stick.
  5. Get a good diaper sprayer to install on your toilet. I believe this is a vital step to cloth diapering success, especially once solids are introduced. There are a lot of options on the market or you can DIY one yourself.
  6. Sometimes using disposables are necessary: traveling (we like Grovia covers and disposable/compostable liners for travel), rashes, illness, etc. That's okay. Do the best you can.
Sorry to get all weird on you. That tends to happen when I get started on the subject of diapers. Before M was born, I had no idea I'd be so into what goes on his bum. It's a strange thing to get excited about, I know. I guess I'm just an odd bird. 

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