Adventures in Cloth Diapering
I started writing this very long and detailed post of all the trial and error I went through figuring out what cloth diapers I wanted to use and how to make it work for me, but it got very long and rambling, so I’m just going to keep things simple. Here is how the whole cloth diapering thing is working for us right now.
I am using colorful waterproof (specifically, polyurethane laminated fabric) covers that snap onto baby, and laying an absorbent pad (known as an “insert”) inside of it. For the absorbent insert, I have some large squares of thin cotton (also known as “flats” in cloth diapering land) that I can fold a bunch of times into the right shape. I also have a bunch of much smaller squares of many-layered cotton (known as “prefolds”, since most of the folding has been done already) that I can just do a quick fold and tuck and then they are in the right shape. Here they are, drying happily in the breeze:
The diaper covers are in front, then you can see some of the flats looking big and loose behind them, then the smaller, more compact prefolds drying in the back. Here’s another shot so you can see the prefolds (on the left):
The flat inserts are nice because they’re super cheap, they clean easily and dry pretty fast. The prefolds take quite a while to dry, but once I take them off the line (or out of the clothes dryer) I can just toss them in the shelf under the changing table, while with the flats I have to take the time to fold them to the right size. I like having some of both, but if I want to keep hanging them on the line to dry through the fall and winter I’m going to have to start using the flats more.
Here’s how they look folded into a diaper cover and ready to snap onto baby:
The flat is on the left and the prefold is on the right. Once they’re folded like this they look and function pretty much exactly the same.
I also have a few high tech “stay-dry” inserts that are mostly microfiber with a miscrosuede top layer. The microsuede wicks moisture away, keeping the skin fairly dry. It’s still not as crazy dry as the gel stuff in a disposable diaper, but I use the stay-dry inserts for night time since I have no interest in changing diapers in the middle of the night and I don’t want wet baby skin all night long. I also have some disposable inserts that I keep in the diaper bag and the car, in case I run out or (more likely) forget to refill the diaper bag with cloth inserts.
I feel weird mentioning brand names on my blog, since I don’t feel like I should recommend any specific products unless I’ve exhaustively tested every possible brand. But what I have is working great for me, so I have no interest in trying other stuff. For covers, I’m using Flip one-size covers and Diaper Safari one-size covers. I looove the color options for both, and have mostly stopped putting pants on Dakota and instead have just been letting the diaper be part of her outfit. For prefolds I’m using Cloth-eez size small, which I received second-hand for free from a super-generous local mom. (Lucky me, otherwise I probably would have bought a cheaper and not-as-nice brand.) I’m still testing out the flat inserts, but for now I have Flip daytime inserts, which are a jersey knit, and Ozocozy, which are a birdseye weave.
Enough words, here’s a cloth diaper on my baby!
I generally alternate between two diaper covers throughout the day; since the polyurethane is on the inside of the cover I can just give a peed-in diaper a quick wipe and lay it out to dry, switching to the other diaper cover and a new insert. The wet/dirty inserts and any pooped-in covers go straight into the diaper pail, which for me is just a trash can lined with a polyurethane laminate pail liner. (I like the Grovia drawstring pail liner, since I’m throwing out brand names left and right anyway.) I’m doing diaper laundry pretty much every other day, so I just grab the whole drawstring liner, empty it into the washing machine, and toss the liner in as well since it’s machine-washable. Since we’re still exclusively breastfeeding the poop is all completely water-soluble (and surprisingly not very smelly at all) so I “soak” the load first by running a quick wash/rinse cycle on cold with no detergent. Once that’s done I run a hot wash cycle with a cold rinse and add an extra rinse just to make sure all the detergent is completely washed out. Then I generally hang everything out to dry, though we’ll see if that continues as the weather gets cooler.
With this routine, and especially since baby is a once-every-other-day pooper, I need about 8 diaper covers and 24 inserts of various sorts. I’m hopeful that this will actually last us all the way through the end of Dakota’s diapering days. I know once she starts eating solids her diapers are going to get considerably more gross, and from what I’ve read the most common way to deal with it is to install a hand-held bidet on the toilet so you can spray the dirty diaper before tossing it in the diaper pail. I also figure that she will start peeing more heavily and less frequently as her bladder gets bigger, but I’m hoping that I can double up on the inserts that I already have if I need to, especially since I won’t need as many for individual changes at that point. The other possibility is of things wearing out. I’m hopeful that since I’m line drying things that the cotton inserts will last for a loooong time. The covers are more questionable, especially from what I hear the leg elastic tends to give out first. For now, if the cover has just been peed in I’m rinsing it out and washing it with our regular clothes on cold, and then hanging to dry. I’m hoping this will help the elastic last longer.
Too many words again! More baby!
So how much would all this cost using the brands I’m now familiar with?
- 8 diaper covers – between $72 and $120. The Flip brand is much more expensive than Diaper Safari, but you can buy a bundle of Flip covers with the stay-dry inserts or the daytime flats and save a little if you so desire…
- 12 Cloth-eez small prefolds – $28
- 12 flats – between $20 and $60. The Ozocozy ones are the cheapest that I’ve seen, Cloth-eez makes some highly recommended ones for a little bit more, and if you really want to break the bank you can get a bunch of the (admittedly very nice) organic Flip daytime inserts.
- 3 Flip stay-dry inserts – $15
- Grovia pail liner – $15 (Although honestly you should really get two, so you have one in the pail while the other one is in the wash)
- A whole lot of laundry detergent – ??? hopefully you buy in bulk. 🙂
And since you’re doing all this laundry anyway, you might as well use cloth wipes too, right? cutting up some old T-shirts and wetting them with water from a squirt bottle works awesomely, in my experience. Anyway, a little arithmetic says you can buy all the stuff I listed above for somewhere between $150 and $240, depending on how fancy you want to get. That’s your start-up cost, and then you have the ongoing cost of increased laundry detergent and water/energy usage. All of this to say that I’m not going to try and figure out if I’m actually saving myself money by using cloth diapers instead of disposable. Even if I knew exactly how much my water consumption increased and how much I would have been spending on disposables, I still don’t know if this setup will last all the way until my already very big baby is out of diapers for good. And it took me a while to figure out that this works best for me, so I’ve spent money on other types of cloth diapers here and there until I settled on this system. Again I was lucky, the same lady who gifted me the prefolds gave me a bunch of newborn-sized cloth diapering stuff as well, which gave me a chance to figure out what I liked without breaking the bank.
At the end of the day, I love cloth diapering and I have every intention of continuing if at all possible!