January 20, 2015

What Cloth Diapering Looks Like for Us

We've decided to use cloth diapers on Cai. I saw "we," but it was mostly something I felt strongly about, and because my reasons made sense, Steve agreed.

My main reasons were as follows:

1. The long term savings.
I haven't done the math, but others have, and I'll link to some posts about it at the end, but cloth diapering saves tons of money. It is an investment in the beginning (although there are ways to buy them without breaking the bank), but long term it's much cheaper, especially if you have multiple children because the same diapers can be used for more than one baby.

2. Fewer chemicals on my baby's tushy.
This was my biggest reason. Standard disposable diapers are filled with chemicals. Have you ever broken open a standard disposable when it's wet and looked at what's inside? Basically the pee gets absorbed by gel beads. We used Huggies and Pampers in the beginning because they were given to us, and there were a few times when the gel would come out of the diaper and I would struggle with wiping the beads off of him.

I'm no cloth diapering expert, and I hope I don't sound like I'm pretending to be one, so let me make some disclaimers.

1. We did not start cloth diapering as soon as we got home from the hospital.
As I already mentioned, we were gifted some disposable diapers (though not as many as some of our friends when their babies were born...I think because we registered for chemical free diapers and cloth diapers, people were afraid to get us anything, so most just didn't), so we used them. We also tried out some small packages of Seventh Generation, Honest Company, and Baby Ganics diapers (which don't have the gel fillers). Also, with the frequency of diaper changes in the beginning and the fact that I didn't want to be doing extra laundry while recovering for major surgery, I decided it was okay to wait a few weeks.

2. We don't exclusively cloth diaper.
We still use disposables. The main reason for this is that sometimes it's just easier. When we go up to my parents, I don't always even bring the diaper bag. I left a pack of Honest Company diapers and wipes at my mom's house, and because I breastfeed, there's very little else we need to bring with us. Usually, I put Cai in the Moby wrap, and we trek up to my parents house with just the pacifier, so it's way easier to use disposables then. Steve is also still a little intimidated by cloth, and both of us find it easier to use disposable overnight.

g diapers
Long before Cai was born, my sister-in-law gave me a slightly used set of G Diapers in both newborn and small sizes. She also gave me some of the disposable inserts. I have since then bought several washable inserts.
G Diapers are a three piece hybrid diaper. They are "hybrid" because of the disposable insert option which can be flushed (if ripped open first) or composted (urine only). We used the disposable inserts in the beginning because we didn't have enough washable ones and because we were using a barrier cream on his diaper rash which can ruin the absorbency of cloth diapers.
G Diapers velcro in the back which is different than most diapers. They are also three pieces (except the newborn which are two pieces); a cloth shell called a G pant, a plastic liner that snaps in, and the disposable or fleece insert. In the beginning I really liked this set up because I could replace and wash just the inner one or two pieces. This was great because we didn't have that many and because it made for less laundry. This option isn't that exciting now because he's rarely dry enough for me to replace just the inside; he wiggles so much that the inserts don't protect all that well.
I did buy six slightly used G diapers on ebay in the next size up.

Kanga Care
'Lil Joeys
These diapers are made exclusively for newborns and they are an all-in-one (AIO) which means there is only one piece, o stuffing or folding. They function the most like disposable. We bought a two pack of these from Babies-R-Us to try out, and we really liked them. Unfortunately, Cai grew so fast, and we bought them so late, that we didn't use them for very long. However, we know that we really like them, so we will buy more for baby number two (Lord willing). If we had more of those, I would definitely cloth diaper much earlier. I like these and the g diaper newborns because they are tiny and made for a newborn. Most cloth diapers are "one size" and can be adjusted with snaps as baby grows. This is convenient and money-saving, but I don't think it's fair or practical to put those HUGE diapers on little bums.
We also bought two Rumparooz which are a one size pocket diaper. A pocket diaper is one that you stuff with an insert (or more than one insert if you want more coverage) before use, then use as normal diaper. I stuff all of my diapers as I fold them, so they are ready to go when we use them. The Rumparooz have a cool insert system called the 6r soaker. It's basically two absorbent inserts with snaps on them. You can use them in a variety of ways; the newborn insert by itself when baby is little, snapped together for overnights, or folded in different ways to provide more coverage in the front for boys. They are a one size diaper, so in  the beginning they are quite bulky. I think I will like them more as Cai gets bigger. They are super absorbent and don't leak, but I feel like he can't lay normally because of the bulk. Both of the Kanga Care diapers come in awesome colors and patterns.

Fuzzibunz Perfect Size
These are another pocket diaper. Fuzzibunz makes one size diapers also, but we've chosen to get the "Perfect Size" which come in a few different sizes but are still adjustable with snaps within those sizes. We bought two in size small, which we are using now, and twelve lightly used in size medium from ebay. I think these are my favorite because they work well, but are slim and not bulky.

Cai is wearing Fuzzibunz
Companion Products
Seventh Generation Baby
I like the use of plant based ingredients in this detergent. The baby version is made specifically for cloth diapers and is safe for HE washing machines.
Coconut Oil
We've found that unrefined virgin coconut oil works best on Cai's persistent diaper rash (due to something I'm eating, but I have yet to figure out what). It is safe to use on cloth diapers. We buy ours at Wegmans.
Earth Mama Angel Baby Diaper Balm
I bought this at Wegmans. It's all natural and mostly organic and safe for cloth diapers. It smells good too. It's nice to use on the go because it takes up less space than a tupperware container of coconut oil.
MotherLove Diaper Rash and Thrush
I really like this one. My sister-in-law gave me some samples from the store where she works (Luvaboos in Rochester, NY), and it worked great. It's also all natural. I like that it can help with yeast rashes or even on your nipples if you and baby get thrush.
Wet bag
If you cloth diaper you need a wet bag. We have a big one (again from Luvaboos) that I keep hanging on the door knob. I throw everything in there and wash the contents and the bag every day or every other day. I also have a small wet bag for the diaper bag if we are using cloth diapers on the go.
Cloth Wipes and Wipe Spray
I was resistant to the idea of cloth wipes at first, but they make so much sense. It's so much easier to throw everything in one place instead of having to throw diapers in the wet bag and wipes in the garbage. Plus, it gives me control over what I'm putting on Cai's bum instead of the chemicals in most wipes. I fold my wipes and put them in an old Huggies wipes container so that they pop up just like store bought wipes. I keep a spray bottle on the changing table and just spray his bum or the wipe. My wipes are just cut up king size flannel pillow cases that I wasn't using. The spray I use is basically castille soap (I use Dr. Bronners), witch hazel, and some melted coconut oil. It all works really well. I find I need fewer cloth wipes than I would disposable wipes. We do use disposables on the go though.

I was nervous about washing my cloth diapers because I kept hearing about this thing called "stripping," and it sounded intense. From what I've read, however, stripping is only necessary if the diapers start to smell, cause ammonia burns, or lose their absorbency, and if you wash them correctly (and only use cloth diaper safe ointments) you shouldn't have those things happen.
So after some research and some advice from my sister-in-law who runs a diaper service, this is my routine:
-Dump the contents of wet bag and the bag itself into the washer.
-Run diapers through a cold rinse ("Rins/spin" on my washer, lasts 20 min.).
-Wash on hot for the longest cycle possible with half the recommended amount of detergent (I use my machine's "sanitize" cycle which is 2 hrs. and 2 min. long. I also use Seventh Generation Baby detergent).
-Run another cold rinse.
-Dry on low heat or hang to dry (weather hasn't permitted this yet.

I do this every night or every other night depending on how many diapers we went through. I also wrote it all down  and taped it to the cabinet in my laundry room so that Steve would know what to do if I were away for some reason.

*Note: These are washing instructions for an exclusively breastfed baby. The method changes if you are formula feeding or if baby is eating solids*

On making cloth wipes and one example of solution
Washing instructions from GroVia diapers
Cloth Diapering 101
Cloth diaper styles explained
8 Tips if You're New to Cloth Diapering
Homemade wipe solution recipes
More recipes

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