I’ve had quite a few people ask me recently what diapers we use, so I thought it would make a great post topic – especially because the answer to that question is more complicated than one might think! Due to length, this is going to be a two part post, today and tomorrow.
But first, it makes sense to address why we cloth diaper. I think this video sums it up really well:
While I was still pregnant and we mentioned to people that we were planning to cloth diaper, most of them thought we were nuts or, at the least, that we didn’t realize what we were getting into and would change our minds once Nora came.
Not once have I regretted cloth diapering. Not only is it incredibly easy, it’s also really fabulous to not have to have any sort of regular diaper or wipes bill. I don’t have to feel guilty about creating extra trash to take up valuable space in the landfill or about what nasty chemicals Nora is being exposed to 24/7 (in a very sensitive area, no less) through her diapers. In some cases, cloth diapering has actually cut down on laundry: diaper blow outs, while a standard experience anytime we used disposables (while traveling for example), rarely if ever occurred with cloth. Additionally, cloth diapering has made me more aware of reusable options in other areas of the house: using cloths instead of sponges to wash dishes, cloth instead of paper towels to clean just about everything, Luna Pads and the Diva Cup instead of pads/tampons, etc. And I’m looking forward to the early potty training that usually accompanies cloth.
So what diapers do we use? A lot of different ones!We have a really varied diaper collection for two reasons: first, because where I could, I bought used diapers, and second, because for a long time, I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best.
Buying used diapers is a great way to go if you want to spend even less money. When we first started diapering we were using sized diapers (there are “sized” and “one-size” — “sized” means they fit a certain weight/age baby, “one-size” means one diaper will fit all size babies) that we bought from a family in New Paltz, NY. The mama sold me a complete stash of Snugglebottom contour diapers (30 sized small) and Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Diaper Covers (3 newborn sized and 6 small sized) for $40. The Snugglebottom diapers are like a pre-fold (what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers), only they are cut to eliminate the folding. They are made of are made of soft, 100% cotton flannel and have a stretchy gather around the leg. Initially, we had to fold the top down because Nora was so small, but they were super absorbent (she could go through the night with no diaper changes from 9 pm or so until 7 am). The cover is what held the diaper in place (no pins necessary!) and made it waterproof. As long as she just had a wet diaper, we could use the same cover over and over, so you don’t need as many covers as you do diapers.
I ended up buying a few more newborn sized covers from a local maternity and baby boutique, plus our diapering set up, which included:a changing pad and cover ($40), a 10 gallon lidded trashcan ($15), two large wet bags to put in the trash can (about $25 each), two small wet bags for the diaper bag ($22 each), and a large stack of cheap washcloths ($16). We were given the diaper stacker and we repurposed a plastic water bottle to wet the wipes (a.k.a. washcloths) as needed on the changing table. The initial set up and diapers cost us about $200 and Nora wore these diapers for her first 8 months.
The cost savings of not buying disposable diapers or wipes is incredible, but what everyone really wants to know is what it’s like to wash them. It’s not hard at all! We have enough diapers to last 2-3 days (which is just about the right time before the pail might start to smell). For the first 7 months or so, until Nora was regularly eating solids, all of her diapers (poopy or wet) could go straight into the washing machine. Breast milk stool comes right out in the wash, no rinsing necessary (another reason why nursing is easier than formula!). Now that she has solid stools, we spray dirty diapers out into the toilet using a diaper sprayer (the best invention ever) and keep a wet bag on the toilet tank for these diapers. A lot of people are grossed out by the prospect of spraying diapers, but it’s important to note that disposible diapers are supposed to be dumped in the toilet too:
As the Pampers bag recommends, you’ll want to dump bowel movements in the toilet. Then just roll the diaper into its backsheet, using the tape or fasteners to keep it closed, and dispose of it in the trash. (Source Pampers.com)
Human waste is a biohazard and should never, ever be left in a diaper to go to the landfill. That’s what I think is gross. And, truly, it’s not that bad (or that different from wiping it off baby’s bottom).
I wash our diapers in hot water, with an initial soak and second rinse, using Charlie’s Soap (which we now use for all of our laundry). The diapers go in the dryer; the covers and wet bags are hung to dry. Sometimes on sunny summer days I would hang everything for some sunshine whitening action. You don’t want to use things like bleach or fabric softener on diapers because they’ll ruin the absorbency of the diaper and could irritate a baby’s skin. If you want to sanitize diapers (like I did with the used ones) you can boil them. Even when I was working full-time, I never felt inconvenienced or as if washing diapers was too much. It’s all about priorities, I guess.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the many different types of diapers we’ve tried since she was 8 months old. In the mean time, I’m happy to answer any questions about washing, creating an initial stash, finding used diapers, or cloth diapering a newborn.