Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cloth Diapers- the HOW and WHY

Aside from the adorable, cute, bulky tush of a baby in cloth diapers why would someone put themselves through this process and how is it done in these modern times?

My own top reasons for using cloth (in no particular order) are as follows
  1. It's cheaper- You save $2000-$2500 per child if you use cloth from birth through potty training. The saving depends on what brands of disposables you usually use and also how much you spend on your cloth diapering system.
  2. It makes me feel better about myself- I'm not really very organic and super environmentally conscious but I do feel better about now throwing away all that extra trash. Anyone with kids can tell you how much more trash you have.
  3. It seems better for the baby- I don't don't the science on it. Some will swear that all the chemicals in disposables are really horrible and maybe they are although common sense tells me that so many kids use the disposables and they seems fine. It just seems better to me to not have all those extra additives constantly on their skin for 2-3 years straight.
  4. It's as easy as disposables- It all boils down to the work in the end. Can you handle it? I have found that once I knew how and had a routine down it really wasn't any more work than the disposables. You have to dump them in the washer and that's just as hard as taking out all that trash.
How do I do it?
Everyone has a different method. It seems like we all start out pretty similarly but with time and experience we all do it differently and that's ok. Take what I have to say and use what you can and throw the rest away... like anything else you read or hear.
There are 2 basic kinds of cloth diapers and in those 2 types there are tons of variations. You have prefolds and covers (more traditional) and there are covers and inserts (less bulky). I have only ever tried using prefolds and covers though did I just buy some FLIP inserts for on the go to use with our EconoBums.
There are 3 parts to cloth diapering that I guess would be the most helpful if you are considering it or just getting started.
  • Supplies
    As I said there are many variations within each category of diaper systems. For the cover/prefold system I use the covers, prefolds, liners, and snappis are nice but not essential. No matter what you are going to want a wet bag for when you go out.
    I prefer the covers with the PUL (thin plastic) inner liner. These covers can be wiped out and reused unless you get a major soiled diaper. Yes, the diaper still breaths and no the plastic isn't on your baby's skin. Other cover might have microfiber or fleece or cotton on the inside but those are 1 use covers and you will need to buy more of them. The cost of diaper covers really can add up so I use this kind. I recently bought 6 diaper covers when I re-invested in a diaper system. I have gotten by with 4 in the past but I like the extra assurance of having enough. I found 1 size covers this time which is nice because I used fitted covers in the past. I liked the fitted covers but it was a repeating cost every time Davin outgrew them and I couldn't afford to keep up.
    I use prefolds which is just a fancy word for a really nice cushy bit of cloth that your baby does it's business in. It's slightly rectangular usually has multiple layers and there are a few different kinds. You can buy them from Gerber in the store or you can buy them as part of a system or order the sized ones online. Mine came as part of my diaper system.
    I use diaper liners which ties into clean up. The liners are a bit thinner and stronger than toilet paper. You put one on between your baby and the prefold and it lets liquid through but catches solids. When you change the baby flush the liner.
  • Clean-UpI just mentioned diaper liners. Your other option is a diaper sprayer. It attaches to your toilet uses the water from the same pipes and you just spray off the diaper before you throw it into your pail. Speaking of a diaper pail, you're going to need one. Again, there are a lot of ways to utilize it. I have used pail liners (plastic bags) and those are ok. I have found it just as easy to put some water with a bit of pre-wash in my pail and simply put the diaper in it. At the end of the day you dump the whole mess into the washer. My pre-wash is made for cloth diapers (though I don't know if it's made for soaking) but it has anti-microbial stuff, odor stuff, and fights stains and all that. Before I found the pre-wash I used just a small amount of detergent and followed the pre-soaking instructions on the soap box. I put the diapers in the wash before I went to bed and dry them in the morning. No biggie. Don't put your covers in the dryer!!!
  • TechniqueI debated even talking about technique but then I read a review for some cloth diapers on BabiesR' and some lady really had no clue and had posted a rant about not having any leg holes so maybe I have too much faith in the ability of people to just figure it out.
    -Lay out everything you need. before you change your baby. Get your prefold all situated at this time and a new cover ready if you need one. To prepare your prefold simply fold it in thirds into itself and put a liner on top. If you're not using any snappis of anything you might want to put the prefold into the cover in advance as well. With practice you will get used to how you roll. Take the old diaper off and clan up the baby, flush what you need to and put the soiled diaper in your pail. Put the prefold into the cover at this point and under your baby. Pull the corners of the prefold out from under your baby but don't undo how you folded it in thirds. Bring up the front and pull out those corners a bit. if the prefold is too long just fold over the extra at this time as smooth as you can and tuck either side around your baby. Bring those back corners out and around, either use your snappi to secure it or hold them in place while you close up the diaper cover. Now that you have your diaper cover closed, tuck away any of the prefold that might be showing especially in the back and around the legs. now you're done! If it sounds like a lot it's just becaus eI broke it down step-by-step. -Try mentally telling someone how to change a disposable step-by-step and you will see what I mean.  
I hope this helps, it's a lot easier to show someone rather than write it all out but I have been asked by SO many people and I see a lot of questions about it on some of pregnancy discussion boards that I cruise once in a while so I thought is might be worth blogging.

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