Monday, May 5, 2014

On Cloth Diapering: Because it's Not as Gross as You Think

Before you start thinking about how "gross" and "dirty" cloth diapering is, I want to take the veil off of the antiquated way of thinking. Cloth diapering has come a long way since the 50's age of rubber pants. There are countless options for cloth diapering. Pre-folds and covers, flats and covers, pockets, all in ones, disposable's overwhelming. 

We've been cloth diapering since Felix was about 1 month old. A lot of diaper brands will tell you that they fit newborns, but in reality they don't. Felix was skinny when he was born so he was swimming in the smallest fit!

Before having a baby everyone warns you about the massive blowouts of poo. And since he's been in cloth diapers he has had not one blowout, not even ONE, people. The only time he has had a blowout was when I was in Portland with him and he was in disposable diapers. Cloth diapers = poo containment.
As you can see here, at 3 weeks at the smallest size, the diapers were still huge!

Because I am lazy, and I already knew that prior to this, I wanted to go the easiest route. For us, that means all-in-ones or AIO. That means the entire diaper is one peice, no stuffing, no switching of cover, no refitting once it is on. We use the Bum Genius brand, and we have two different ones the "elementals" and the "freetimes". The Elementals are organic and the inside is made of organic cotton. The freetimes are made with microfiber which is very absorbent. Both of the shells are the same, so there is no issues switching between both kinds. Here are the two bumgenius styles:
Freetime (flaps open)

Freetime (flaps closed) 

Elemental (showing double layer of cotton - please excuse the stains!)
We also use pocket diapers, they are similar to AIO but you have to stuff the diapers before using them. I stuff right after washing, it saves a lot of time during a diaper change and also spares one from getting sprayed while stuffing. Felix is a heavy wetter, so we use two inserts per diaper. I prefer to use the bamboo/hemp inserts because they hold more, and leak less. We have two different kinds, Alva and Fuzzinbunz. I have a love/hate relationship with the Fuzzibunz diapers for a couple of reasons. The inserts are very thin, so you can only use their brand of inserts, also, instead of adjusting the size with the snaps you have to turn the diaper inside out and adjust the elastic around the leg which is confusing and annoying. I like them once they fit, but it is hard to get it just right!

Pocket diapers are often cheaper than the AIO (which are the most expensive). The Alva diapers are made in China and run about $6-10 a piece depending on the print. There are some people who think that because they are made in China that they are lower quality, I haven't found that to be true with Alva but they are the only made in China brand of diaper that I have. The Bum Genius diapers run between $17-20 a piece, you can find them in bundles of 6 for a cheaper price on Amazon but you don't get to pick the colors. Hence why Felix has one magenta diaper :)

I bought an extra set of bamboo/hemp inserts for our Alva diapers. Each diaper comes with two microfiber inserts, but reviews of long time CD'ers say that microfiber doesn't last as long and doesn't hold as much as bamboo or hemp.
Showing the open "pocket" with two inserts

Showing the inserts and what they look like outside the diaper

Both the Alva and the BumGenius brand diapers are a one size fits all system. There are three sets of snaps that serve as the sizes. The smallest size fits 8-16lbs, middle size 16-24, and largest is 24-33. I like that this system is idiot proof, all you have to do to make it tighter is adjust the snaps, you don't have to go inside and adjust the elastic on every single diaper (which takes a lot of time).
Here is a one size diaper in its largest size which shows all the layers of snaps:

Here is the annoying elastic with button system.
Note: You have to adjust both the waist and the leg elastic. Super annoying!

I don't have any knowledge of the pre-fold, flats, and cover diapers system. All I know is that it uses folded diapers and a snap which is then covered with a waterproof fabric which is made out of the same fabric that ours are on the outside. Some people prefer that way, some people prefer pockets and AIO.

If you are considering cloth diapering you will hear time again to try many different styles and see which you like best. It is a good suggestion, but you might end up like me and have 12 diapers (the fuzzibunz) that you don't really like. Good thing I bought them used, so I paid a discounted price to begin with! I plan on buying more Alva diapers in the future if needed.

Here is a pic of a fresh batch of clean diapers in the top drawer of the changing table dresser.
I have about 36 diapers total, which is a perfect amount for about 2.5 days! 

"Ok Jamie, I see these diapers are cute, fairly easy, and money saving...but what about the washing? Isn't that the worst part? "

No. It's not that bad.
You see, you will hear about how formula fed babies require extra maintenance in the cloth diapering department.
You usually hear that breastfed baby poop is water soluble so you can just throw it in the wash, well, after much research I found that you can do the same with formula fed baby poop - just make sure you do an extra rinse in the beginning.
I had to learn the hard way about the pre-rinse.
When its time to wash I throw all the diapers in on a hot rinse.
In between the rinse and the wash I shake all of the inserts out of the pocket diapers. Sometimes it's a little gross but a good hand washing rids me of the yuck after.
I wash on hot -- with tide (not a special cloth diaper soap, because they don't work)
Then do an extra rinse at the end.
Then I throw them in the dryer on low!
It's honestly that easy.
I do a diaper load every other day. 
We keep the diapers in a waterproof wet bag on the side of our changing table. It has a convenient bar on the table and the wet bag has a loop with a snap!

I have a couple of extra wet bags for when we are out and about. 
You throw the wetbag in the washing machine with everything else, of course you just have to unzip it and dump the diapers out first!

The best part about cloth diapers? 
The money saving. 
It costs between $3000-$4000 (depending on diaper choice) from birth to potty training for disposable diapers. 
These diapers, which we spent about $400 between all of the inserts and diapers themselves, will last us through potty training. 
That is a HUGE cost difference people. 

Other benefits?
- No blowouts
- Felix has never had diaper rash
-...they're just overall really cute 

I know cloth diapering isn't for everyone, but if you are looking for a way to save a lot of money with a new baby (or even an older one), cloth diapering is an awesome money saver! Overall, the experience has been great and no one who takes care of him is intimidated by them! 
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try my best to answer!


  1. Jamie this post is awesome! You forgot one of the best benefits though: the average baby puts over 8000 diapers in the landfill in their lifetime! You're significantly lowering your trash impact, and Felix is cradled by organic cotton rather than chemical-filled plastic diapers. Just the environmentalist's take on cloth diapering.

    1. Jenni,
      You are so right. I guess because my initial reasons for going cloth were not for garbage purposes but more financial, that I don't remember that huge benefit!