First of all, I must say that I absolutely love using cloth diapers. There are many benefits to cloth diapering, including:
- Cost savings. This was my biggest reason for deciding to go with cloth. I knew I would be returning to work at just 20 hours per week instead of 40, and I also hated the idea of spending up to $2,000 in 2 years on disposables.
- Better for the environment. Yes, I use water and energy to wash and dry my diapers (2-3 extra loads of laundry per week), but I am not contributing thousands of diapers to sit in a landfill for years. I am by no means an environmental "nut" but I do believe it's important to take care of the earth God gave us to live in, and using cloth helps to that end.
- Rumored to help potty train faster. This is TBD for us since Evan is only 6 months old! But supposedly, cloth helps babies potty train faster because Baby feels more wet than (s)he does when wearing disposables. Disposables are designed to pull moisture away from Baby's tush, so even when (s)he is wet, they don't feel uncomfortable enough to want to learn to use the potty. Cloth, on the other hand, wicks away a lot of the moisture but still can make Baby notice more easily that (s)he is wet. As I said, TBD.
- Contains mess and odors. I didn't believe it until I used them, but it's true: cloth diapers are so good at containing the mess and odors! I think the whole time I've used them, I've only had one minor leak. I used disposables a lot more the first 2 months of Evan's life and still do use disposables on occasion. I remember sometimes having two or more blow outs a day in disposables. Not anymore. LOVE this. It contains the odors so well too! I notice the urine smell almost right away when I'm using disposables, even if Evan has barely wet the diaper. With cloth, I really have to get close and personal with Evan's tush to tell whether he has a dirty diaper.
- Softer on skin. They just feel so nice! I like having the nice fleecy feeling fabric on Evan's sensitive bottom. :)
- Not as easy. Doing cloth is a lot easier than I imagined it would be, but they are definitely more time consuming than disposables. I have to wash them on 2 cycles, dry them, stuff them and put them away.
- Less convenient. When we're gone on vacation or even a day trip, disposables are a lot easier because, obviously, you can just throw them away. With cloth, I have to store the used diapers and bring them home to wash. The clean and dirty diapers both take up more space in the diaper bag as well.
- Childcare. Cloth diapers can be daunting, so when we have someone else watching Evan, we understand that not everyone is comfortable using the cloth. The diapers we use go on just like disposables (prestuffed and ready, velcro closure), but some people don't want to deal with the cloth.
- The "ick" factor. Let's be honest. Dealing with any diaper is icky. We're dealing with human waste! But cloth diapers are slightly more icky than disposables because of having to wash them. But it really isn't bad.
What I use
After much research, I decided to go with Bum Genius 3.0 one size pocket diapers. The reasons I went with BGs were that they seemed the least scary to me (no folding, pinning, etc), I liked that they would "grow" with my child since they are one size, and I read a lot of good reviews about them and heard good things from my cousin who had tried a few different kinds. The only real drawback with these was that I couldn't really start using them right away because they were so bulky. I tried Evan in them, and I'm sure they would have worked to contain the mess, but he looked pretty ridiculous in them. Next time, I think I might get some other kind of cloth diapers that are made for newborns or I'll do what I did this time and just use disposables that first 6 weeks.
Tip: If you decide to go with the BG 3.0s, order them from CottonBabies.com and get them in bulk. You'll save by buying in bulk, get free shipping on orders over $75, and at Cotton Babies, they include a doubler/infant insert with each diaper (when I bought mine, Amazon and other online retailers did not include the doubler with each diaper).
When I ordered my diapers, I also ordered cloth wipes, wipe solution concentrate, diaper liners, wet bags, and a diaper pail liner. In total, I have 17 diapers and 24 wipes. I got a garbage can with a push lid and a spray bottle to use for the wipes at Target. With the diapers, wipes and all accessories, I spent about $370 (I was given 2 diapers as a shower gift also). This should last me until Evan is potty trained and probably for one more child. I think by this point, they've already paid for themselves in what I have saved in not buying disposables.
My Method: Diapers
I do a laundry load of diapers/wipes every Tuesday and Friday, sooner if I need to, but that's my schedule. I follow BG's washing instructions exactly. I have read too many stories about people cutting corners with washing them and ending up with diapers that need to be stripped constantly or even replaced because they hold odors or leak, even after multiple washings. So far, I haven't had any issues with lingering odors or leaking. I've only bleached them once.
I use Charlie's Soap and love it. In fact, I now use Charlie's for all of our laundry, not just the diaper loads. When I wash, I wash ONLY the diapers, wipes and liner. Nothing else. This keeps the velcro tabs from fraying or getting less sticky. I dry them in the dryer. After they're done, I stuff all the diapers and line them up in a basket I keep in Evan's dresser. That way, they're all ready to use when I need to change his diaper. Each night at bedtime, I add a doubler to the diaper for more absorbency overnight. Since adding the doubler, he hasn't soaked through.
Tip: I would really recommend investing in a good laundry detergent if you're using cloth -- protect your investment! Here is a list of detergents and whether or not they are recommended for use with cloth diapers. I got my Charlie's Soap from the Linden Hills Coop Natural Home Store in Minneapolis, but other places sell it too.
As for storing the dirties, I use a flip-lidded garbage can with a pail liner. I close the velcro tabs, shake the insert out and drop them in the pail.
Tip: Make sure when you close the velcro tabs, you are careful about covering the sticky side completely. If you don't, the velcro will start to lose its stickiness and curl.
Up until recently, Evan's poo has been runny enough because I've been breastfeeding that I haven't had to rinse/spray or otherwise remove the poo from the diaper before dropping the diaper into the pail. But now that we've introduced solids, his poo is getting more solid. We have just started using the diaper liners I purchased to keep from having to spray the diapers to get rid of the poo. The concept is great -- I have yet to actually have Evan poo on one though to tell you how well it works! The concept is that the poo sits on top of the liner (it feels like rice paper or like a dryer sheet), while the liquid soaks through it into the diaper. Then you can either flush the liner or shake off the poo and throw the liner in the trash.
Tip: To help keep odor down, I taped a cotton ball with lavender essential oil on it to the inside of the diaper pail lid.
My Method: Wipes
I was really on the fence about whether to get reusable wipes or just use the disposable ones. I decided to try the reusables and I'm glad I did! I have a small basket with dry wipes in it on the changing table and a small spray bottle with wipe solution in it. All I do is grab one of the wipes and spray it with the solution and it's ready to go! The used wipe goes into the pail with the diapers. They wash up really well! They're soft and the solution smells nice. I can also use the wipes for a runny nose or as a washcloth.
What about diaper rash?
The diaper lotion potion I use as a wipe solution also doubles as a diaper rash helper. You just add witch hazel to it. I have yet to use it for this. So far, when Evan has a mild case of diaper rash, I have just put him in a disposable and used diaper rash cream. He doesn't get it too often. If your little one has a diaper rash a lot, I'd recommend trying the diaper lotion potion if you're using cloth. That way, you're not switching him/her back and forth between disposable and cloth, which for some babies can irritate their little bottoms even more.
Cloth diapering away from home
I have and use disposables on occasion. Sometimes, it just makes more sense. I have used cloth away from home and, in fact, did so on a 5-day trip just last week. I used some cloth and some disposables. I just brought both wet bags with me (which, by the way, work great for swimsuits and other wet items as well!). I used the small bag for the poopy diapers and the large one for the wet diapers. Then, when we got home, I just did the laundry. It wasn't too bad! Not as easy as just doing disposables, but money is tight and it was nice not to have used up most of my on-hand disposables. That being said, sometimes I don't use cloth at all if we're on a day trip. I just do what makes sense for each excursion and weigh my sanity level for the day! If I don't feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing cloth while we're away, I do it. If I feel overwhelmed, I don't.
I am by no means an expert, but I have been doing this consistently for 4 1/2 months so far and did a whole lot of research before I started. These are just things I figured out along the way. I hope this helps!