Cloth diapers seem to be growing in popularity these days, and there are a lot of good reasons why. Even before I was pregnant, I knew that if I had a baby one day, I would be looking into a alternative for disposables. However, when I actually found out I was pregnant, thinking about the whole cloth diapering thing was a little gross. What do you do with all the poopy diapers??? It didn’t sound fun, not that changing any kind of diaper sounds fun, but you know what I mean. So when I initially went to buy my first set of cloth diapers, I didn’t go crazy. I bought a few fitted diapers and a few pocket diapers and decided to just try the whole thing out before I committed 100%. And, How did it turn out youask? Well, they ended up being so incredibly easy that I have continued to buy more and more of them, and am now soley cloth diapering (and wiping) my son. I figured, I am doing laundry anyways, why not throw in some wipes? 🙂
Six months later, looking back at the whole process, the most daunting task has not been washing diapers, but the initial research that when into “uncovering” all of the cloth diapering jargon (and believe me, its overwhelming). Not only are there a plethora of companies that make cloth diapers, there are many different kinds, colors, materials, etc. It’s enough to send those on the fence about cloth straight back to disposables. In these next few paragraphs, I will attempt to simplify some of the craziness that is cloth diapers.
So, what with all the different types?
Pocket diapers: These work like disposables except that the absorbent inner layer can be removed. This makes for easier drying time, and a custom amount of absorption. You can stuff the diaper with various different liners (also called doublers or soakers, depending on the thickness) depending on how much of a wetter your child is, or if you are using them for overnight. Most pocket diapers come with at least one liner, some with two. You can also buy liners individually if you find more absorbent ones than the ones that come with your pocket diaper. These are the type that I use the most. I like that the layer that touches my baby’s skin is made of fleece so the moisture is pulled away, or wicked, from my baby’s skin. They are also a lot slimmer compared to some of the other types of cloth diapers I have seen. The most popular brands of these are Happy Heinys, Bum Genius, and Fuzzi Bunz.
Fitteds: These are a 2 part dipering system. The first part is the actual cloth diaper. The cloth can made out of hemp, bamboo, or cotton, depending on the brand. I have even seen blends (cotton/hemp, hemp/bamboo, etc.) . Like the pocket diapers, they can be closed using either snaps or velcro. SO, you put it on your baby like you would a regular diaper, then you put a diaper cover over the fitted diaper to make it waterproof. I use a lot of these diapers as well. They are a little bulkier than the pockets, but super absorbent. Personally, I love Kissaluvs. They work perfect with a Bummis Whisper Wrap (the cover I use). What’s great about these is that even if anything leaks out of the fitted diaper (which it rarely does) the cover catches it!. I even use it with some fleece liners that I made, so the wetness wicks away from his body. Some other brands I have heard great reviews about are Bamboozle and Motherease. These do take a little longer to dry.
Contours: These are also a 2-part system. YOu need an inside diaper and a cover. They are similiar to the fitteds except the inside part is contoured to your babies bottom, not fitted. So basically, there are no elastic legs, no snaps, no velcro. You just wrap it around your baby and put the cover over it so it stays in place. These are cheaper than the fitteds, but you probably have to go through more covers, since they don’t contain everything as well. Imsevimse and Kissaluvs are two brands I know of.
All-in-Ones: These are most like a disposable. The name says it all. No stuffing, no covering. You just put the diaper on, and throw it in the diaper hamper when you’re done. The one down side to these is that they take FOREVER to dry! Many of the companies I listed previously make these, but here’s a picture of one.
Prefolds: These are the diapers out great-grandparents used. You all have seen one at sme point in your life. They look like this. As you see in the picture, there are a few different sizes, and colors. They are also made with various thicknesses and various materials (cotton, hemp, etc). These are the cheapest option to cloth diapering. I have heard that some people use Snappis to keep them in place, some use good old-fashioned pins, and some just use a really good cover that keeps them in place. I don’t have any experience using these, but they are definitely the most economical option!
But what about the price?
All diapers are expensive, and whether you are buying disposables or cloth, it’s simply the last thing you want to spend your money on. I cringe when I think about all of the money we’ve spent on diapers, and it’s only been 6 months! Anywho, the bottom line is that cloth diapers are cheaper. A combo of pockets and fitteds will cost you anywhere from $400-$600 depending on the brands and types. If you choose the contour/ pre-fold route, you’re looking at anywhere from $200-$400. (200 being the bare-bones minumum). A friend of mine recently bought an entire lot of all-in-ones sized newborn to toddler for 100 bucks, so the range is definitely vast. In comparison, disposables will cost you $30-40 a month. When you multiply that by 36 months (the average kid is potty-trained around 3), that’s over $1000! Even if yor child is potty trained by 2, its still $750 at the least. A great way to save even more with the cloth diapers is to find a company that makes a one-size diaper. (Bum Genius, Mother ease, and Bella Bottoms are a few that I know).
How do you wash and care for these things?
Easy. Since I use pockets and fitteds, I have two diaper hampers: one for the liners and fitteds, one for the covers. (You are not supposed to store them together). One of my diaper hampers is a bag that hangs on a doorhandle and can be thrown in with the diapers to clean. Very cool. So every 3 days, I dump all the diapers in the bag, bring it to the washer, and dump everything in (including the bag). I never have to clean or rinse out anything. I prewash with cold, wash with hot and a tablespoon of Charlies Soap (the best detergent ever!!), and rinse. Done. On sunny days, I sunbleach them to dry, but most of the time I just throw everything in the dryer for 40 minutes and fold. The pocket diapers actually dry a lot faster (like 15 min) but some of the liners and fitteds take longer.
How do I travel with them?
On day trips, I stuff a few in my diaper bag and go. You can either buy a wet bag to hold the dirty diapers, or you can use a plastic bag. On extended trips, you can do the same, with a much bigger wet bag and more diapers OR you can use the Aussie-invented G diapers, which is what I do. I will admit that the first few trips I went on, I just used disposables; a friend of mine had a super-fast grower and grew out of diapers before she could use them all, so I used those. G diapers are a cross between cloth and disposable. They have a cloth outside and a disposable inside that you can either flush or dispose of as you would a regular diaper. I choose to toss them because most places don’t have that great of plumbing. The great thing is though that they 100% biodegradable! The only thing you have to wash are the covers and you dont have to carry around dirty diapers!!! I have 4 of them and that seems to get me through any extended trip I’ve taken. Those smart AUstralians!
Whew!!! I know that’s a lot of info to digest, but there’s more out there if you are interested. If you want to know more, check out cloth diapering 101 in my links. That resource really helped me out. If you live in the Seattle area, one of my favorite stores for babies, Birth and Beyond, hold classes about once a month. They are super-helpful if you need help getting started. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond. Good luck and have fun 🙂
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