Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cloth Diapers

Since many of you have asked for it, here is a rundown of my experience with cloth diapers.  I am by no means an expert, but I have figured out what works best for me.  People decide to cloth diaper for many different reasons: to save money, to help out the environment, to avoid chemicals, because they are so darn cute, etc.  While I think there are many great reasons to use cloth, I can't say I actually have a reason.  It's just something I always knew that I would do.  My Mom cloth diapered my brothers & I, so that just seemed like the normal thing to do.  I liked the idea of having something soft against my baby's skin instead of the plastic/paper feel of disposables.  Cloth diapers have come a long way since my Mom was using them!  She used your standard prefolds with diaper pins and "rubber pants."  She also used a diaper service, so she never had to wash them herself.  While some mommas still use this system, I chose a different path.

There are all different types & brands of cloth diapers available now.  If you are interested, there is plenty of info on youtube as well as sites that sell cloth diapers.  I won't bore with you with details of each here.  I decided to go with one size pocket cloth diapers.  One size meaning they should fit your baby from birth (8lbs) til potty training (35 lbs).   You can either have snap closures or velcro.  I chose snaps because they typically last longer (velcro starts to collect all sorts of stuff on it) and once your child is older they won't be able to easily undo their diaper.  However, velcro can give you a more custom fit, and some people find it easier as they are more similar to disposables.  Here are my thoughts on the different brands that I tried:

Bum Genius 4.0:  This is the diaper I reach for first, and it's the brand I have the most of (15 diapers).  I had an issue with the elastic relaxing after only 2 months of use, which I think was caused my using industrial grade detergent while at my in-laws.  Anyways, Cottonbabies exchanged all my defective diapers for new ones.  Great customer service! :-)  This diaper is a bit bulky, but I get a great fit with it.

Rumparooz:  This is my go to night time diaper!  I have no leaks even when Liam sleeps for 12 hours!  However, it is extremely bulky when babies are little, so I only use it at night.  Also, these are a little pricier.

Charlie Banana:  These are definitely the softest of all my diapers & the most trim; however, it's not my favorite.  This diaper has adjustable elastic in the legs and that is how you adjust the fit.  I prefer diapers that have a snap down rise.  Some people love these diapers though...they are similar to Fuzzibunz which is another popular brand.

Dinkledooz:  While this diaper is probably my most cheaply made, I get the best fit from it!  I like the overlapping snaps and the stretchier material.

All of these pocket diapers come with microfiber inserts.  They work great, but there are also other inserts you can purchase that are most absorbent: bamboo > hemp > cotton > microfiber.  Liam is a heavy wetter, so I tend to use two inserts making the diaper a bit bulkier.  Because of this I purchased some hemp "doublers" which are thinner and meant to be used with another insert.  Hemp is also slower to absorb even though it holds more, so most people use it with microfiber.  To describer the diapers I use as a whole (especially for those who have never seen a modern cloth diaper in person): the outer material is PUL (polyurethane laminate) and is completely waterproof.  The "pocket" is typically fleece which is a stay dry material that wicks moisture away from the baby and to the inserts.

I also purchased a dozen prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers to use in some Flip covers.  Instead of using pins, I just trifold the prefold and set it in the cover.  This is a great (although bulky) option that I use mostly while at home.  The cover is resuable as long as Liam doesn't poop in it!  I have 4 flip covers for a dozen prefolds.  This is one of the cheaper options to use.  Confused yet?  There is so much information out there, that it can seem overwhelming... but once you start using them, it is just as easy as disposables.  You simply do an extra load of laundry every 2-3 days.

Since I only wash every 2-3 days (I have about 30+ diapers) I store them in a regular trash can (I have the Simply Human brand) with a Planetwise pail liner.  I also use cloth wipes, and I'm so glad I do!  They work much better and then just go right into the pail with the diapers.  For my wipes: I soak them in a water & baby wash (Dr. Bronner's baby mild) mixture, then ring out excess water, roll them up, and store in my wipe warmer.  Liam gets a nice hot towelette on his bum at each diaper change!  On laundry day, all the dirty diapers, wipes, and the pail liner itself go into the washer.  When I'm out & about, I use regular wipes, but of course bring my cloth diapers with me.  I have a Planetwise "wet bag" for the dirty diapers, which has a zipper close and keeps everything contained.  On wash day, the wet bag goes right in with all my other diaper laundry.  

Now for the nitty gritty details...  Exclusively breast milk poop is water soluble, so you can simply put dirty diapers right into the washer.  Once you start solids (or you use formula) you must rinse diapers before washing them.  Everyone has a slightly different wash routine, but here's mine: quick cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, followed by 2 cold rinses.  The first rinse helps prevent any staining and the second two rinses make sure all the detergent is out so you don't get any buildup.  There are fancy cloth diaper detergents out there, but I just use original Tide.  Every once in awhile I put in a tablespoon of bleach.  I then hang dry everything.  If there is any staining, you simply put the diapers in the sun to dry and they disappear... it's almost like magic! :-)

Some people are lucky to have great cloth diapers store where they live, but if not there are so many options on-line!  I did my research and bought diapers throughout my pregnancy when I found good sales.  Free shipping is another bonus to always look for.  On average, a family will spend roughly $2,000 on disposable diapers from birth til potty training.  I have spent under $500 and could have done it for much cheaper had I wanted.  Once you get going, it's hard to stop yourself from purchasing new brands to try and all the cute prints that are available!  On another note, our water bill did not go up once I started washing least not a noticeable amount.

I truly hope this was helpful to any of you Moms who are considering cloth.  It has been such a great choice for our family, even Conor is completely on board and does plenty of the diaper changes!  We have had maybe two blowouts since Liam was born and he hasn't had a single diaper rash!  Good luck on your cloth diapering adventures, and I would be more than happy to answer any of your questions!

{Update}  Read my experience about over a year of cloth diapering here.


  1. I really like your review on cloth diapers (I'm considering them myself) but I have a question- since the diapers are cloth and the inserts are cloth, what prevents the poop from seeping straight through?

  2. @Sarah: the outer part of the diapers are a PUL (polyurethane laminate) which is completely waterproof. So with the pocket diapers that I use, the "pocket" part is usually fleece which is a stay dry fabric and wicks moisture away to the inserts which are typically microfiber. It makes much more sense if you are able to see a cloth diaper in person! :-) Good luck!

  3. I use flip covers with the thirsties hemp duo fold and LOVE them.

  4. Laura- First I want to start by telling you that I love following your blog! Our boys are about a week apart, and I stumbled onto your blog about mid-way through my pregnancy and have been following your journey ever since. I love reading about you and Liam and the choices you've made for your sweet little man. :) I keep coming back to this post like once a week because I've been wanting to make the switch to cloth diapers (which in the next month we're finally going to be able to, yay!) and I have a few questions for you. First I am wondering about the detergent, the lady at the local store keeps trying to convince me that I "have to have" the special detergent. Have you noticed any extra wearing or any problems from using regular tide? Do you use a diaper sprayer now that Liam has started solids, or how do you go about the poop? And how does cloth diapering work out when traveling (like away from family where you don't have access to a washer)? I guess I was wondering if you could give me a short and quick breakdown of your traveling routine... Even for times when your just going out for the day. I know that was super long winded, I'm sorry :/ I hope to hear back from you though; you're kind of like my cloth diaper role model :) hope all is going well with you and your sweet fam! Keep the posts coming :)

    1. @Lindsay: I am happy to help! You are so lucky to have a local cloth diaper store. Some people feel strongly about cloth diaper friendly detergents, while others think it doesn't matter. In fact, some brands of diapers actually list Tide as one of the detergents they recommend. I have had no issues with it. Next, we're still in the early stages of baby led weaning, so Liam is barely ingesting any solid food. He's really just tasting and playing with it right now, so I haven't changed up my wash routine yet. I plan on getting a diaper sprayer or just "plopping" solid poop into the toilet and giving it a swish. I'll let ya know once I hit this stage. Finally, travel routine: When I'm just out for the day, I throw 2-4 diapers in my diaper bag along with a planetwise medium wetbag, I also use disposable wipes while I'm out and about because that was just easier for me. I change his diaper as usual, and then just keep the dirty ones in the wetbag until I get home and then put them in my diaper pail with the rest of my dirty diapers. Super easy, just makes my diaper bag slightly bulkier. When traveling over night, I've always had access to a washer & dryer except when staying in a hotel. This is the only time that I switch to disposables and I hate it! But if I have a washer and dryer, I just wash my diapers as if I were home. I have quite a few diapers (about 50) so I only wash every 3 days. But sometimes I travel with less, so I'll wash every other day. Hope this helpful, feel free ask more questions. Good luck with your cloth diaper adventures. Once you make the switch, you'll be so happy you did! It can seem intimidating at first, but we'll be easy once you're doing it. Finding your best night time diaper might be the tricky part. There are lots of cloth diaper forums out there with tons of information and women to ask questions. I actively participate in one. Also, youtube is surprisingly another good resource!

  5. Thank you so much for all the help! It's really nice having the advice of a real mom who's actually doing it instead of trying to be sold on different things by a sales associate! I did think of two other questions I'd like to ask if you don't mind. My son Jack is really long like you've said Liam is and is wearing clothes a few sizes bigger than his age size would be like Liam; do you find that sometimes you're going up an extra size to accommodate the bulky diaper though? And, Jack plays in a jumparoo like Liam does, and lately he's had a few blow outs while in the jumparoo, have you had any similar issues with cloth diapers leaking while Liam is super active?

    1. As far as clothes go, it's hard for me to say if Liam's wears a size up due his diapers since he's been in cloth since he's two weeks old. If I had to guess, I don't think it affects his onesies that much, since I already need them so long..but pants I probably use a bigger size. I'm not sure what style diapers you're using, but some are definitely bulkier than others.
      Blowouts are pretty non-existant with cloth diapers if they fit right. We haven't had a blowout for months! I only did a handful of times when he was still growing into his one size diapers. So, no problems with the jumparoo. However, if you're using diapers with microfiber (a lot of mine are), they are notorious for compression leaks. So, every once in awhile his onesie will be a little bit damp after being in the jumparoo. I've very on top of changing his diaper though. With cloth, it's hard to tell when they are wet, so most people just change every two hours unless they poop!

    2. Thank you so, so, so much! Your advice has been great and very much appreciated! We definitely can't wait to make the switch :)

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  8. Great post! I'm wondering, though. Now that you've been at it awhile. For general, everyday use, do you prefer the pocket diapers or the covers with prefolds? I assume the 2nd option is more cost effective?

  9. Prefolds & covers is the cheapest option and I don't mind using them at home, although they are more difficult to use when you have a wiggly, squirmy baby. I still prefer pockets, but my absolute favorite are All-in-Ones. I plan on doing an update cloth diaper post soon, since my stash has changed somewhat. But I will always use my pockets! Hope this helps!


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