One day towards the end of my sixth month of pregnancy, I felt, shall we say,
very pregnant (and by very pregnant I mean like a sweaty, swollen and cranky
whale, if such a thing exists, which I believe it does), and I sent this text
message to my husband:
“I don’t want to cloth diaper at all.”
Then I realized, in my sweaty swollen cranky whale state, that I’d actually
sent the text to my friend and fellow blogger, Jenny Fickey (check out her Mom
Collective blog A Son in College, a Daughter in Diapers). Jenny exclusively uses
cloth diapers, and is the reason my husband wanted to use them part-time. I
didn’t want to at all, and the more I thought about cloth diapers and how they’d
add so much more to my motherhood load, the more I panicked.
Jenny and I got a good chuckle out of my misfired message, and the cloth diaper
debate faded as Baby Dude’s impending arrival grew closer and we were showered
with disposable diapers. For the first three months, we changed so many diapers,
we decided to wait a bit before we broached the subject again. Then Jenny offered
to sell us her gently used cloth diapers at an extremely reasonable price, and we
decided to give them a whirl. Jenny taught me most of what I now know and love
about cloth diapering, and although it was awkward and overwhelming at first (just
like anything you know nothing about), with Jenny’s tutelage and practice, we’ve
developed a cloth diapering system that works for us.
We did a few things to prepare before we began using the diapers, which I’d
recommend to anyone considering using them full or part-time. My husband is
a plumber, and he built and installed a chrome diaper sprayer next to our toilet
(you can also buy a diaper sprayer if you don’t happen to be married to a plumber).
We ordered a KangaCare dimensional wet bag in the lovely lavender Eco Owl print,
which hangs off our bathroom doorknob, and a Thirsties travel wet bag in the
Once we had a system in place to rinse and hold the diapers until laundry time
(more on that later), I adjusted the size. Some cloth diapers have adjustable settings
to grow with your baby (you can buy small, medium or large if you prefer). The sizing
system varies by diaper brand and type. We’re currently using FuzziBunz One Size
(adjustable) and Bumkins cloth diapers. FuzziBunz One Size have elastic in the waist
and legs with corresponding numbers for your baby’s weight (although I found I had
to play with it a bit to find the best fit), and snaps on the waist and legs. Bumkins
have two sets of snaps for the legs and Velcro at the waist. The inserts also vary by
brand. The FuzziBunz insert (called a minky) is stuffed into the fleece pocket of the
diaper, while the Bumkins insert is a tri-fold design.
To keep the diapers in their most absorbent condition, you must follow a few rules.
Don’t use wipes with cloth diapers (although I’m not anti-wipe and agree with Monica
Cost there’s a huge case for the baby wipe). Instead I use a lukewarm wet washcloth,
then pat with a dry cloth and/or air dry. Instead of Baby Aquaphor or Pinxav (both of
which I use with disposable diapers), I use Vitacost coconut oil to treat and prevent
diaper rash (I also use coconut oil to soothe my postpartum hair loss and for home-
made teething oil for Baby Dude).
When in cloth diaper mode, I change them frequently, every two hours, three max.
I then spray the diaper over the toilet with the lid up (NO dunking or swirling diapers
like in the time of yore), remove the insert, then deposit the diaper and insert into the
Eco Owl wet bag. The half-moon shaped wet pail holds up to 15 diapers and inserts,
and the truly impressive 3D design expands to hold volume.
Every other day I (usually) wash diapers. The laundry detergent and routine are more
hurdles that prevent people from using cloth, but I hope to simplify the process for
you with a few things I’ve learned. First of all, the laundry detergent itself is critical.
You can’t use most liquid detergents and don’t use homemade laundry detergent. To
find a suitable detergent, I recommend using this chart from Pinstripes and Polka Dots.
Odds are, you’ll need to order it online, and even then I had difficulty finding the right
detergent because of availability issues, without resorting to the most expensive brand.
I finally settled on Country Save laundry detergent for about 15 cents an ounce,
and I love it.
Pour a scoop in the washer, and set for a large machine load with a hot wash and a
cold rinse. Unzip the wet pail, dump the diapers into the washer, then drop the bag into
the machine. Tumble dry low to disinfect. Don’t use fabric softener. Drying them outside
in the sun is another great (and natural) way to disinfect, which I look forward to when
the weather breaks. Once dry, I stuff the inserts back into the diapers and put them
away for the next use.
On average, we save 4-5 disposable diapers per day, which saves us money. Cloth
diapers benefit the environment and they really are easy and fun! We still use dispo-
sables (I prefer Luvs and Pampers Swaddlers) at night, mostly because I’m too bleary-
eyed to spray a diaper in the wee hours. I love the ease and convenience of using
both. It works for us!
Do you or have you ever used cloth diapers? What are your favorite brands and types?
Do you have any tips for a fun and easy cloth diaper experience?