Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101: What you need to know before you begin

I'm going to start by giving you a very general overview of what cloth diapering is like these days.  I'm sure most people imagine big white cloths and pins sticking into baby's legs and that is definitely not what modern cloth is about!

I think the most popular style of modern cloth diapers is the one size pocket diaper.  This means that, generally, it will fit babies from 8-35 lbs or so.

Aren't they cute?!?!
The pocket means that there is a slit in the back of the diaper where you can add or remove inserts depending on the absorbency you need for your specific child.  The majority of my fluff stash are BumGenius 4.0s (shown above) by Cotton Babies.  You can get them in velcro (known as aplix in the diapering world) or snaps.  Aplix is easier for sizing around the waist but also easier for a toddler to figure out how to take off - As I've recently learned with my just-turned 1 year old!

Now there are other styles of cloth as well - prefolds & covers would be the closest to what you were originally picturing in your mind and they are definitely the most budget friendly choice.

All In Ones (AIOs) - are the most like disposables in that the absorbent part of the diaper is built in to them.  No stuffing or unstuffing just wash, dry and put back on baby's bum.  Downfall is that you cannot add absorbency if you discover you need it (as I probably would with my heavy wetter)

Hybrids or All In Twos - are where you have a cover and an absorbent layer to go inside.  Sometimes the layer snaps in and sometimes it lays in the cover.  Examples of this would be the Flip Diaper or the Grovia.

These are the basic types of diapers.  I know I didn't cover all of them but these are what you will hear about most of the time.  Now back to the basics of cloth diapering....

This is probably the most daunting thing for first time cloth diaperers...but it doesn't have to be!  It really isn't that involved!  For starters, when baby's start our and are exclusively breast fed (EBF) you don't have to do anything to the poo diapers before putting them into your washing machine.  Once your baby starts solids, you will probably want to get the poo off the diapers before storing for wash day.  You can either do this the old fashioned way by swishing them in the toilet and flushing, a diaper sprayer (YAY!) or you can use either disposable or reusable diaper liners.  You'll want to wash about every 2 days - you can sometimes stretch it to 3 if you have to but I definitely recommend every 2.  Now you'll want to store your dirty diapers in a wet bag - they have a variety of kinds - either a zippered bag or one you can put as a liner in a trash can and then you can just throw the wet bag in the washer with the dirty diapers.  You'll want to do a cold prewash to rinse out all the excess poo (EBF poo is water soluble that's why you don't have to wash it off before putting into the washer) and then follow your specific diapers recommendations, but usually a warm or hot water wash with detergent followed by an extra rinse.  Sometimes your wash routine will have to very from this - it just depends on the type of machine you have, if you have soft or hard water, etc but this is a good starting point.  Then you throw your inserts into the dryer if you want and you will want to line dry your covers.  Wa-La - no harder than doing the rest of the laundry at your house right?!?

Traveling with Cloth
One of the other prevalent questions about cloth I've heard is "How do you take cloth out in public with you?"  This was intimidating for me as a newbie too but after I tried it the first time I was wondering 'what was I so worried about?!?'  So when you go out and about you'll want to take your diapers along with a small wet bag - I use something similar to this Planet Wise.  I think I have the medium size.  So when you change your diaper, it's just like at home, take out the new cloth diaper, put the dirty one in the wet bag and then put the wet bag back in your diaper bag.  This is also a handy reason to use cloth wipes because how often do you just wipe baby's bottom, stick the dirty wipe in the diaper and roll it up? (at least typically with disposables)  So if you also use cloth wipes you can do the same with your cloth diaper and throw it in the wash at home with your dipes!  (I have to admit though that I haven't gotten to doing this when traveling yet but I'm not sure why...I have found way too many washed disposable wipes in my dryer and had to pick out the little fibers that were left - you'd think that would be inspiration enough to get me to change huh?!  This is my goal in the near future...)

Why Cloth Diaper?
It's better for your baby.  It's better for the environment.  It's better on your wallet.  Do you need more reasons?!?  Studies have shown that it can take up to 500 years for ONE disposable diaper to decompose in the crazy is that?  That means that if you use disposables on  your child, that that diaper will still be there when their great-great grandchildren's children are walking this earth!  Also studies have shown that cloth diapering can save you an average of $1000-2000 for ONE child.  So if you reuse the same cloth diapers for your second, third, fourth, etc child then that savings would multiply awful fast!  I obviously haven't done any of these studies first hand but I have found some pretty legitimate sites online (that I'll try to post) that have and it sure made me feel good for cloth diapering...not that I haven't also had to use a disposable or two once in awhile...

Well I think I've told you the basics of cloth diapering and hopefully you found it somewhat interesting.  Please post questions as comments and I will try to answer them as quickly as possible.  I always have people asking me about cloth diapering, so I'm glad I finally have a place I can refer them to instead of retyping my advice/info every time.  :)  Feel free to refer your friends, family or strangers who have asked you about cd'ing to this site as well.

Also want to note that I did not receive any compensation from the linked sites - I merely frequent those sites so I used them as reference points.  Also be sure to follow your cloth diaper manufacturer recommendations on proper usage and washing instructions.

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