Friday, August 22, 2008

Not really about diapers...

...but it's totally related.

Guys, please stop reading.

Family members, please stop reading if this will ook you out.

Only ladies left, right?

Awesome, let's proceed.

So in thinking about the excessive cost and wastefulness of disposable diapers, it's only natural to begin thinking about femenine hygiene products. I mean, how much money will you end up spending on tampons, pads, and panty liners throughout the course of the menstruation phase of your life? Let's just say that you start at age 13 (although many girls start younger), and complete menopause when you are 55 (although for many women, it's older). That's 42 years! 504 months! 504 cycles! Let's say you spend an average of $7/month for tampons and pads. For these modest estimates, you're looking at $3528, plus tax and inflation, so by the time we're finally done, it could be closer to $5000.

What if you have children? Let's say you have 3 children, and don't begin cycling again until each of your children is 9 months old (due to breastfeeding, hormonal changes, whatever). That's 18 months of no cycles per 3 children, or 54 fewer cycles. You're still looking at $3150 before taxes and inflation.

All of this is to say nothing of the waste! We all probably flush tampons, but we're not supposed to. And pads are about as biodegradable in a landfill as disposable diapers are. Don't even get me started on the chemicals and bleaches used to process these things, which you are then either putting immediately next to or even inside your body. And we do all these things without even thinking twice about them, because I did for years, too.

Well, no more for me!

I just got my Diva Cup in the mail today and I am so excited! I read my directions, washed it, and started using it right away. (I'm not a weirdo, I'm having my cycle right now.) It was so easy to use and it's totally comfortable! I don't even feel it, just like a tampon.

I love that all I have to do is empty it into the toilet, wash it, and re-insert throughout my period. It eliminates the unnecessary waste from tampons and their applicators and pads. It's far healthier than products which strip all the natural moisture out of you, and it has practically zero incidence of adverse health issues, like toxic shock syndrome. Also, at just $32.50, it cost less than 5 months' worth of disposable products, and I can use it until menopause.

Some women use cloth menstrual pads instead, which is fine for women who prefer external protection. I personally don't, so the cup is the route I chose. I still use disposable panty liners as a back-up, but will probably eventually switch to a cloth one that can be laundered with the diapers.

Anyway, I'm pumped! I never even knew this was an option before I started using cloth diapers, so I figured that there might be a lot of women who will be interested, but likewise wouldn't even think twice about it.

*** EDIT TO ADD: I found a website that sells the diva cup for much cheaper. I wish I had found this website before I purchased mine, but it would thrill me to know that I saved some other ladies some money. Check out

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do I really have to...?

...use special laundry detergent?

Well, yes. Here's the reason: most commercial laundry detergents that we commonly use on our clothing are loaded with all sorts of brighteners and enzymes. These chemicals leave residue on your clothing, which is what makes them look super clean and smell nice after laundering. The problem with using this type of detergent on diapers is that it, well, leaves residue. Initially, the diapers will smell lovely, like Gain or Tide. But as the residue builds up, your diapers may become less absorbent. Even worse, the enzymes that make clothing smell nice make urine-wetted diapers smell abominable. Almost to the point of being intolerable. Seriously. When M's diapers started getting build-up, even the wets smelled like poopy diapers. So. Very. Disgusting.

My favorite detergent for cloth diapers is Allen's Naturally. I tend to think it's better to use liquid than powder, especially if you have microfiber inserts; powder detergent may not fully dissolve and the granules can become lodged in between fibers, irritating your baby's skin. I am currently not using Allen's, because no one sells it locally, and the shipping on it is very expensive since the bottles are heavy. I'm using Planet instead, because I can buy it at EarthFare or Kroger here in town. When I run out, I plan on trying out Charlie's Soap. Here is a great detergent chart.

...avoid using diaper rash creams on my cloth diapers?

Yes and no. This seems to be a point of major contention among cloth diapering mothers. Some people tend to think the major issue is that some creams may stain cloth diapers, which is true, but I kind of figure, "Isn't my child pooping in these things? Who's so fired up about stains?"

So the real issue is that most diaper rash creams are designed to coat your child's skin, preventing it from being in constant contact with moisture. That is, they are designed to repel moisture. Doesn't it stand to reason, then, that the creams will also coat the cloth diaper and cause it to repel? This is not something you want happening with the one thing whose sole job it is to prevent pee from getting everywhere.

Some moms say it's okay to use rash creams that don't contain petroleum or petrolatum (i.e., Vaseline, Aquaphor). Burt's Bees Baby Bee rash cream, for example, does not contain either of those two ingredients. But I figure, I'd rather be safe than sorry, so any time one of my children absolutely needs rash cream, I use a disposable liner in between their skin and the cloth diaper. For the record, my favorite rash remedies are Triple Paste or Resinol with a little cornstarch powder or Caldesene powder sprinkled on top. (** Use Caldesene very sparingly on all babies, and especially girls, as it is talc based; prolonged exposure to talc in females has been associated with cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers.)

However, I try really hard to avoid using medicinal rash treatments at all. The very best things for a rash are plain water, dry air, and sunshine. When R started to show a pretty bad case coming on a short time ago, I bathed her bottom in clean water and let her air dry. I then put a plain prefold on her without a cover and put a "wet pad" under her. As soon as she went, I changed her; we kept this up as long as she was awake. When it's warm enough (and you have a private enough place to do it in), letting your baby's rash be exposed to sunlight is one of the most healing things you can do for it. Also, if you're breastfeeding, breastmilk is good for anything that ails baby; hand express a bit, rub into rash area and let air dry.

...strip my diapers?

Absolutely not. Because it requires a great deal of water and a pretty serious chunk of time, I never strip my diapers unless they really truly need it. Diapers only need stripping when they have super excessive build up, or odors that just won't seem to go away after less extreme attempts to get them clean and fresh. When diapers are thoroughly clean, coming out of the dryer they should smell like nothing at all.

As I've said before, I occasionally use 1/8 cup of bleach in the wash cycle along with the detergent to help get my diapers smelling cleaner and fresher. This is such a personal thing to so many moms, as many have quite strong feelings about chlorine. You could also try using Bac-Out directly on the diapers before pailing.

I just bought some SportWash today in the camping/hunting section of WalMart. It's been highly recommended by other cloth diapering mamas due to its ability to get rid of stinkies. The bottle also claims to rejuvenate waterproofing, which is an added bonus. The bottle was about $5 and gets you 18 loads. Some people may use it every single time, but I'm going to stick with my normal wash routine and just use it once or twice a month to get the diapers super clean. I couldn't believe how fresh it got my diapers after just one wash today!

...go whole-hog with cloth diapers?

Heck no. Some people say cloth or bust.

I think your feelings on this are going to vary a whole lot with your original reasons for choosing cloth. Are you hardcore crunchy and organic, and refuse to allow a single unnatural chemical or fiber every touch your baby ever ever ever? Well, then you probably won't have an "in-case" package of sposies in your child's closet. Like I do.

I switched to cloth for partly green reasons, but mostly to save money. I use sposies on the kids at church, because our church nursery is so crowded (and I think they may have issues with thinking that cloth diapers are somehow unsanitary) that they just won't change my child's cloth diaper. Part of it is that they don't know how, too. Sure, I could carry them to church in cloth and have them page me when one of my kiddoes needs a new nappy, but the whole point of having childcare is so that I can worship unhindered. Using 6-8 sposies a week per child (Sunday am and pm, Wednesday morning Bible study) isn't going to break the bank for us.

Also, sometimes I don't get to the laundry in time, and it will be 30 minutes before bedtime and the kids have no clean nighttime diapers. Paper diapers it is! Or like when M had a stomach bug a few months back. I mean, come on people. Diarrhea. Every 2 hours. For three days. I literally couldn't keep up with the laundry, plus I was having to feed my newborn right after washing out poopy diapers in the toilet 12 times a day. There is not enough Germ-X in the world... expensive diapers?

NO. No. How can I be more emphatic while typing? No, you don't have to spend a fortune on fancy diapers. You certainly could buy a stash of expensive Blueberry pockets at $33 apiece. Or you could go to WalMart, buy 2 or 3 packages of Gerber prefolds, 2 packages of vinyl diaper covers in each size, and a package of pins and cloth diaper your child for less than $40 total.
You can make your own diapers, if you're crafty. Any fabric will do! Go to the thrift store on half-off day and stock up on old flannel men's shirts, t-shirts, towels and washcloths. Sew them into prefolds, or even into just plain long soaker pads to place into diaper covers.
I will never understand people who say they don't have the money to cloth diaper; they just don't realize the full cost of using disposables full time! Most times, these people have only looked at FuzziBunz, BumGenius, and Happy Heinys and just feel like they can't afford to start. Cloth diapering is a front-loaded investment, so it's scary in the beginning, but pays off in huge ways over time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laundry Day

As I said before in my post about how many cloth diapers you need, I do laundry every other day. With two little ones in diapers, that adds up to quite a bit by the time I get to the laundry room! So here are my answers to laundering-related issues.

So what do you do with the dirty diapers until you wash them?
Okay, what I do with the dirty diapers has changed a lot in the past week. You really just have to play around and see what works for you. We have what is called a hanging diaper pail by Fuzzi Bunz. It just hangs on the doorknob to the linen closet right beside the toilet, so it's actually quite convenient. Some people have actual pails, but I don't have space for one. You could use a diaper champ or diaper genie with or without a plastic bag in it. You can also use a lidded trash can. However, be advised that plastic absorbs smells! If you're going to get an actual pail, I highly recommend getting a stainless steel trash can.

Now, up until about a week ago, I was just rinsing out all the diapers and dropping them in the pail until laundry day. Most of the time the pail didn't smell, but it got to where the diapers smelled kind of funky, even right after washing. Some people don't experience this problem. I would definitely advise starting out by using the dry pailing method, and if you don't have any issues, don't worry about it. If you do start having skunky diapers, then you could try this.

But, since I started having problems with smelly dipes, I have switched to a mostly wet pail system. I'm using our washing machine tub as my wet pail; I fill it up 3/4 of the way and add 1/4 cup baking soda. You can buy special diaper pails, potty pails, or lidded trash cans to use as a wet pail if you wish. But, you will need to take some serious precautions if you have a wet pail in the house! Children and pets can drown in extremely shallow water! Keep your wet pail closed with a locking lid, and keep the door closed - and locked when possible - to prevent any kids or pets from getting into the area where the wet pail is kept. That's the main reason I'm using my washing machine tub as a wet pail - our laundry room is in the carport, so it's outside of the house altogether, plus I keep the lid closed and the laundry room door closed.

So after each diaper change, I take all the elements of the diaper apart - cover off, inserts out, etc. Anything that has a PUL coating gets rinsed out in the potty and stored in the hanging diaper pail in the bathroom. All non-PUL-coated materials (prefolds, fitteds, microfiber inserts) go straight outside to the washing machine tub, no pre-rinsing necessary for wets. Poopy diapers, of course, get washed out in the potty as detailed in the diaper changing entry.

There is an on-going debate about whether or not to soak PUL materials. Some people say it will compromise the waterproofing capabilities, others say no. I'm kind of afraid to so I don't, but I know people who do it with absolutely no problems.

What about when you go out of the house?
We cloth diaper about 99% of the time, whether we're at home, running errands, going for day trips, or even traveling on vacation. As long as there's a washing machine, I use cloth. I have what is called a wet bag with a zipper to put in my diaper bag. It's actually made of the same waterproof material as the diapers, so I just stick the dirty dipes in there till I get home or to my destination. No wet stuff or stinky in the diaper bag.

What about routine washing?
I wash every other day, and as I've said before, it's quite a load by that time between the two of them! Everyone develops their own wash routine over time, and mine is constantly evolving to achieve the cleanest diapers possible. Here's my current routine:

  • Carry the hanging diaper pail out to the washing machine, dump contents on top of soaking diapers and inserts. Push to submerge and soak for 20 minutes. Spin out tub and follow with another cold rinse.
  • Hot wash with 1/2 the recommended amount of an enzyme-free laundry detergent, like Allen's Naturally, Planet, or Charlie's Soap. Allen's is my favorite, but no one sells it locally and the shipping is expensive since the bottles are quite heavy, so now I'm using Planet (4 tbsp per diaper load).
  • Two cold rinses to make sure all the detergent rinses out.
  • I hang them to dry when weather permits and I have the time, otherwise I dry them in the dryer with a few clean, dry towels to help cut down on drying time.

Special Occasion Cleaning

Probably about every 6 to 8 weeks I "strip" my diapers to get them really super clean. You can do this as a regimen, or wait until you start to have skunky diapers. Here's how I strip my diapers:

  • Start with diapers clean, but not necessarily dry. Boil a huge stockpot of water and pour over diapers as the wash tub is filling with hot water.
  • Add anywhere from 2 tsp to 1 tbsp of Dawn original dish washing detergent. This helps to cut grease build up on the diapers from your child's skin, lotions and oils, and give them a fresher scent.
  • Rinse on cold rinses until you no longer see bubbles in the rinse water. This could take as many as 5 or 6 rinses! Make sure you're using cold water for your rinses.

Alternately, some people don't do this (for a wide variety of reasons), and I certainly DO NOT recommend doing it more often than I say here, but I also use 1/8 cup of regular bleach in a regular wash routine with my diapers once every 8 weeks. I kind of do it halfway in between stripping to buy myself a little more time before I have to strip them again.

If you have stains that won't seem to go anywhere, try wetting the diaper, putting lemon juice on the stain, and placing it in direct sunlight until dry. Repeat as necessary until stain is completely eradicated.

For that matter, sun drying is an extremely energy efficient and effective way to brighten the look and freshen up the smell of all diapers. I strongly advise that you sun-dry your diapers whenever possible.

Time for a change...

What about diaper changes?

I use cloth wipes since I'm already washing stuff anyway. You can certainly buy cloth wipes from the same websites where you purchase your diapers, but there's no need. You could go to WalMart and buy two 12-packs of baby washcloths. I used some old receiving blankets - everyone always has too many of those anyway! For some, I just used the flannel in a single layer, and for others I used one layer of flannel and an old baby washcloth - cut and serge the edges or zigzag stitch as close to the edge as possible for a single layer wipe; for a double layer wipe just sew the edges together. To make it look even more finished, you can sew it with the right sides together for all but about 2 inches of one side, turn it right side out, then topstitch around all edges, folding the unsewn portion of edge inward.

I make my own wipes solution using 3-4 cups boiled and cooled water, 2 tbsp baby oil, 2 tbsp antibacterial soap, and 2 tbsp rubbing alcohol. I mix it in a one liter water bottle and pour over wipes in an empty sposie wipe tub, or store in a spritzer bottle and spray directly on baby's bottom, using dry wipes to clean up at changes. Store any unused wipe solution in the fridge. You can also use 3-4 drops of essential oils to make it smell soooo yummy - my favorite is lavendar oil - but they are a bit expensive.

I like storing my wipes wet in an old sposie tub, because then they're all ready. However, I do have a small spritzer bottle I found in the travel section of...guess where! WalMart! When I'm leaving the house to go run errands or hang out with a friend, then I carry some wipes dry in an old travel sposie wipes case (the flat kind), and the tiny spritzer bottle. But after you use the wipe, you just toss it in the pail with the diaper.

That's all well and good, but I mean, what about the poo?

Definitely the least delightful part of cloth diapering. When a baby is exclusively breastfed, you can actually just dump the diaper - poo and all - in the washing machine without rinsing first. Breastmilk poo is 100% water soluble. Formula poo - at least in R's case - is like peanut butter and paint. Not so much fun.

Solid food poo is usually pretty easy to just dump in the potty. For the sticky ones, I dump what I can into the potty, pull the insert out (if it's a pocket), and then dunk the diaper in the potty and use the cloth wipe from the diaper change to kind of wash out the poo. (Hooray for yellow rubber gloves!) Some people use a rubber kitchen spatula to scrape off the diapers, but you certainly wouldn't want that spatula to end up back in the kitchen drawer by mistake! If you choose to use one, you could store it by standing it upright in the toilet brush holder. Some people swear by diaper sprayers, but we don't have one. They're definitely a perk, not an essential, unless you have low-water level low-flow toilets. Then they might be necesary.

However, we do have and use rice paper liners, also called flushable liners. Also a perk, and not an essential item. But I love them. All you have to do is pick the liner up and drop it - poo and all - into the toilet; it all flushes down. (If you have an older toilet that isn't super powerful, or live in a home with older plumbing, you might better let it sit for 5 minutes or so before flushing.) They're really convenient for poos, and also for the rare occasions that I need to use a rash ointment on the kiddoes. (You shouldn't use petroleum based creams or ointments with cloth diapers, because it will coat the diaper and reduce the absorbency.) You can see in the pic below that they're kind of transparent. It kind of looks like tissue paper, but it's actually quite strong. Some people have tried to sub out toilet paper or gift wrapping tissue paper, but that stuff will just fall apart as soon as the child pees.

How many diapers do I need, and how much is this going to cost?

This is just not a simple question. First of all, how many children do you have in diapers? How old are they? - newborns go through many more diapers in a day than a 2 year old does. It also may be determined by what style you choose to go with: if you have an 18-month old light wetter who goes through 6 sposies during the day and just one at night, and you wanted to order BumGenius or Happy Heinys pocket diapers, you could order as few as 8 or 9 and do laundry every day. If you have a heavy wetter, you'll definitely need to plan to change your child's cloth diapers more frequently than you would change a sposie, even with a high-quality pocket. Then, of course, if you want to do EC (elimination communication), then you'll probably want to go with prefolds and plan to have enough to change your child's diaper every single time s/he wets.

Well, for me, the decision of how many diapers to purchase came down to how often I wanted to be doing laundry. You can buy a ton and do laundry less often, but keep in mind that if you have more than 16 to 18 diapers in your washing machine, they won't get as clean. I do laundry every other day, and it's quite a load by then! Here's some sample stashes, to give you an idea. You certainly don't need as many as I have, and of course there are people who have more. I know of one woman who washes diapers once a week, but on her diaper laundry day, she does three separate loads in that one single day. That's just what works for her, but I imagine that with 2 kids in diapers, she must have to have quite a large number to make that schedule work!

I switched my son to cloth at 18 months. I started out with 5 daytime pockets and 1 nighttime pocket. With my heavy wetter, it wasn't even enough to get through one whole day! I had to use sposies to bridge the laundry gap. Once I decided I wanted to stick with it, I ordered 8 more days and 1 more night and was able to go down to laundry every other day as long as I was carefully watching my stash to make sure I wouldn't run out. Then my sweet mother-in-law bought us 5 more, so going every other day was no sweat. So for an easy every other day routine with a heavy wetter, I had a total of 18 daytime diapers and 2 nighttimes. Like I said, though, he's a heavy heavy wetter, and it's not uncommon for him to poop 4 or times a day, so we change him pretty frequently. (Now he's grown out of 4 of those, so we have just 14, but still not a problem to launder every other day.)

For my daughter, I planned to cloth diaper her from the beginning. I knew I would wait until her umbilical stump fell off, because you're not supposed to cover it with a diaper or let urine touch it, because it could become infected. Also, things rubbing across it can irritate it. Anyway, my stash for her that fit her when she was a newborn was INSANE: 13 kissaluvs fitteds size 0, 10 each newborn, standard infant, and infant prefolds (total of 30), and 6 MonkeyBuns fitteds; also 8 or so covers/wraps. Needless to say, I never even came close to running out by laundry day! Now that she's older, I'm still using the infant and standard infant prefolds, and I have a combination of 3 different brands of fitteds, also a few pockets and AIO hybrids that I use for naps and nighttime (total of 20 prefolds, 8 fitteds, 2 pockets, 2 AIO hybrids).

A good rule of thumb if you're going to go the PF/flat/contour/fitted route is that you'll need 2 to 3 covers for every 10 to 12 diapers. Covers don't need to be washed after each use unless they get poo on them, just wipe them out with a wipe and let them air dry. I usually rotate between 2 covers all day, then toss them in the pail at night.

Using prefolds and covers is by far the cheapest way to cloth diaper. I don't have a great money breakdown, but I can link one here and tell you that you WILL save money over using sposies! The average yearly cost for disposable diapers and wipes is $1000 per child! Take into consideration that the average child in sposies does not potty train until somewhere between 36 and 48 months, and you could be looking at close to $4000 PER CHILD!! Conversely, you could order a prefold package for just $250 and cloth diaper your child from womb to potty. Even if you decided to go exclusively with a name-brand pocket, like BumGenius One-size (7 to 35 lbs), and wanted 18 total to wash every other day (or even less frequently), you could order them in a bundle deal and spend just $300! Buy a 3-pack of receiving blankets from WalMart, cut them into wipe-sized squares and make your own wipes solution at home to save even more money. However, it's a front-loaded investment, so it may not initially feel like you're saving a lot. And CDing is like just about anything else - if you want to spend a lot of money, you sure can find things to spend it on.

Another way that PFs save you even more money is because especially if you get DSQ PFs, they literally last forever. The trouble with pockets and AIOs is that eventually, the PUL will break down and not be waterproof anymore. If you have a younger child in diapers, or you're planning to have more, replacing every pocket and/or AIO will be quite expensive. The average pocket is around $18, and the average AIO is around $22. But if you're only replacing 4 or 5 covers (at anywhere from $7 to $18) in each size, that's obviously a lot less money. Fitteds will last a long time too, but probably eventually the elastic would wear out, the snaps might break or not hold as tight, or if you have fitteds with velcro closures the velcro wears out.

So, to wrap it up, how many do you need and how much is it going to cost? Sorry, but there's no short answer there. How many you buy will be determined by the style of diapering you choose, how many children you have in diapers and how heavy a wetter each of your kids is. How much will it cost? Depends on what style, brand and how many you decide to buy. The best thing I can advise you to do is to determine first how much money you can spend, then start looking around and writing down prices of different diapers. I had a huge grid worked out that showed how many prefolds and covers, how many fitteds and covers, and how many pockets I could buy for a predetermined amount of money. (Sorry, I don't have it anymore, or I would happily share it here.) Then I figured out how often I would need to launder with each mock stash, and decided from there. I will say that I thought I would prefer one-size pockets, so that was my first purchase. However, after diapering for a while, I felt more confident and wished I had gotten either prefolds or fitteds instead.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Diapering Styles

There are, in my opinion, four main diapering methods: prefolds with covers, fitteds with covers, pockets, and all-in-ones (AIOs). I do them all, so I feel like I have a good perspective on all of them. (Some people also use flats or contours, I don't but I'll do my best to explain what I know of them.)

Prefold Diapers

Now, when I say "prefold" I'm referring to the diaper service quality (DSQ) Chinese or Indian prefolds (CPF/IPF) that you can purchase online or from natural parenting stores. They come in lots of different sizes, dimensions, and thicknesses (newborn, infant, standard infant, regular, premium, toddler). The Gerber cloth diapers at WalMart and Babies R Us will work, but they're not nearly as absorbent, nor will they last as long. To the best of my knowledge, a flat diaper is just like a prefold, but I've never tried one because they don't look as absorbent. Maybe they're trimmer? And a contour diaper is a PF or flat that is shaped like a sposie, so it doesn't require folding but does (in most cases) require pinning. Prefolds are easy to use, easy to pack to take along with you, and CHEAP. The downside is that they're not terribly absorbant when used by themselves, so you'll end up changing diapers more frequently. Another benefit to prefolds, though, is that children can feel when they're wet, so if you use exclusively prefolds, your child may pottytrain younger! (Who wouldn't love that?)

Anyway, the actual folding is really not that difficult, although it takes a little practice. You absolutely don't have to use pins unless you just want to. I use a snappi instead; click here to see the full manufacturer's directions for the snappi. There are really only 3 ways that I use a prefold: the bikini twist, the diva fold, and the no fold method. I have illustrated instructions for each using my son's favorite teddy bear, his "Mama Bear," so named because I made it for him. (I know it's kind of janky looking, but it was my first time using a sewing pattern ever, so please make fun of it to yourself.)

Folding techniques

The bikini twist is great for smaller babies or mobile babies because it cuts down on the bulkiness between their legs. Start out with the prefold (PF) under baby's bottom with the edge in back lined up with baby's navel. Twist the bottom portion (going towards baby's feet) over once. Pull up over belly, fold down top edge if necessary (not pictured). Snappi or pin. Tuck in edges at thighs. All finished! Put a cover on.

The diva fold is great for more active babies, because you can actually do it with the baby on their back or tummy (ideal for when babies are wanting to crawl away, at least you don't have to keep flipping them over). Start with the PF under baby's bottom (or tummy) with the edge lined up with the navel. Pull bottom edge up, tuck top corners around baby's back. Pull bottom corners around and snappi or pin. Tuck edges in, push as far in as possible to give extra absorbency in the middle. All finished! Put a cover on.

The no fold is great, even if it is a slight misnomer. With this method, there's no pinning or snappi-ing involved, and you can also pre-stuff your diapers for daddy, parents, babysitters, etc. Start by folding the PF into thirds the tall way. Place into cover seam side down, tuck PF under the front flap of the cover as shown (not all covers have a front flap, but most of mine do for the express purpose of the no-fold method). Slide stuffed cover under baby's bottom, close and fasten just like a disposable (sposie).

Fitted Diapers

Next cheapest is the fitteds and covers method. Fitted diapers come sized (based on weight and/or baby's measurements), adjustable, and one-size adjustable (OS). They also come in a variety of materials. You can buy prefolds that have been sewn into fitteds, or you can sew them yourself. These are relatively cheap, and you have the same downside of needing to change more frequently. There are also bamboo and sherpa, which are quite absorbent, but don't provide a "stay-dry" feeling. Then, of course, there are fitteds that are lined with polyester fleece or suedecloth, both of which will draw moisture away from baby's skin, providing a stay-dry feeling.

For newborn diapers, I used mostly Kissaluvs size 0, which are pretty adjustable. Here's a pic - you can see in the first one how many snaps it has, the fold-down for the umbilical stump, the diaper snapped to the absolute smallest setting beside my hand for size comparison, and then snapped on the largest setting. She wore these from day one until she was about 3 months old.

I also use - and love - a work at home mom (WAHM) fitted diaper. The company name is MonkeyBuns diapers and I found her on eBay. I kind of took a chance, since I didn't know anything about them, but it really paid off! (For the record, she makes fitteds, covers, all-in-ones, and - I think - all-in-twos.) She offers the option of sewing a suedecloth or fleece lining. She also offers both velcro and snap closure; this fitted has snaps and a fleece lining.
All prefolds and fitteds require a cover of some kind. (I use primarily PFs and fitteds on my younger baby, although I have a few pockets and AIOs that I use for her long nap and overnights.) I use only PUL covers (poly-urethane laminate), but lots of moms use wool since it's a more natural fabric and ironically, it breathes better. Here is a pic of a simple, cheap Prorap cover.


Next is pockets. One major advantage to using pockets is that you can pre-stuff them (I do it when I'm folding the clean diaper laundry), and then they're ready to go on just like a sposie during the diaper changes. The biggest disadvantage is that you have to stuff the darn things! Pockets come sized and in OS. I use exclusively OS pockets on my son at this time, since that was all we purchased when we made the switch to cloth when he was 18 months old. Regardless, a pocket diaper consists of a water"proof" outer layer, such as PUL or heavy duty fleece, a feel-dry inner layer of microfleece or suedecloth, and a pocket in between for stuffing with absorbent material. You can stuff a pocket with anything - soakers and inserts designed especially for that purpose, a prefold, even an old dishtowel if it's laundry day and you're in a crunch! Most specially made inserts are made of microfiber. You can pick up what's called a "bag of rags" in the automotive department of WalMart for about $5; it has a dozen microfiber towels/rags in varying sizes. I stuff most of my son's pockets with PFs since it was cheaper to buy pockets without inserts, but the picture below is with brand name inserts. Here you can see the empty pocket in the diaper, the inserts I use, the pocket stuffed, and the diaper ready to go on. This is a Happy Heinys one-size (OS) diaper; it's adjustable from 7 to 35 pounds, give or take based on a child's build.
Here's an empty Haute Pocket diaper so you can see how the adjustability works. Here it is laid out, then snapped down to the shortest rise setting, then all closed up. With the rise unsnapped, it fits my two year-old. With it all closed up, like in the last picture, it fits my four-month old. Pretty cool, huh?


Next are the All-in-One (AIO) diapers; these are sized diapers. Some companies make a one-size AIO, but I can't even imagine how that would work. It seems like it would be really bulky on a smaller baby! Anyway, an AIO is just what it sounds like - the absorbent material and waterproof layer all in one piece! The obvious advantage here is ease of use; these are handy to have to put in the diaper bag when you're headed out for a playdate, or to leave behind with grandparents or babysitters. The biggest con of an AIO is the drying time - they take forEVER to dry! There are actually a few subcategories here under the AIO umbrella; there are true AIOs, AI2s, and AIO pockets, also known as AIO hybrids.

A true AIO is just like my original description. Here is a DryBees AIOs.

An AI2 is an AIO that has an additional soaker sewn on the top layer of the diaper at one end, so it's like a flap. This gives you extra absorbency without additional drying time. I don't have any, though, so no pic.

An AIO pocket or hybrid is a diaper that can be used as is, it is a true AIO with a sewn in soaker, but it also has a pocket for additional stuffing and absorbency. Here is a Thirsties AIO Pocket, hopefully you can see the sewn in soaker inside the pocket.

What do you do about nighttime?
My kids are both long sleepers and heavy wetters. You can buy special diapers and inserts specifically for nighttime use. For my 2 y/o I use a DryBees fleece nighttime pocket diaper; the fleece breathes, which remarkably keeps him pretty dry. And the pocket is very generously sized, so we just stuff the diapers with more stuff. :o) I use a toddler-sized prefold, and occasionally toss in a microfiber insert along with it. Here is my son's big fluffy nighttime bottom.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Welcome and Why I'm here

I originally wrote an entry on my family blog about the general basics of cloth diapering. There was a really positive response, and I quickly realized how much there was to know! It can be a really overwhelming undertaking when you first begin to do your research. There's so much to know, all the terminology and abbreviations, different styles (what's the difference between a flat and a contour?!?), how many will I need?, how do I wash them once I get them? Aaugghh! It's enough to drive a woman crazy!

So here I am, just a stay at home mom who navigated it all by herself and wants to help you now! I'm a busy lady, so it will take me a while to get through all the things that I feel like are important, so please be patient with me, but feel free to ask questions too!