Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Cloth Diapering Journey

I started cloth diapering when my first child was seven weeks old. I did it out of necessity, because we were living in another country where disposable diapers were difficult to find and exorbitantly expensive.
I had no diapering experience of any kind. My only tools were internet research and my own mother. I coveted the nice "all-in-one" cloth diapers, but eventually settled on prefolds, because cost was a factor.
Pre-folds are the cheapest cloth diapering option (aside from making cloth diapers yourself out of old t-shirts and towels). I was confused for a while as to what to call these diapers, because I thought a "pre-fold" must be something else. These aren't folded. They are flat rectangles. But I guess "pre-fold" means that YOU fold them yourself before you put them on the baby. Shouldn't they be called "self-fold"?
We bought a bunch of pre-folds (maybe around 20 to 25), along with five Bummis Whisper wraps in size Medium. I was also afraid to use pins so we got three special diaper fasteners made by Snappi. I also tried to be domestic and sew a huge velcro belt for fastening the diapers, but I don't actually know how to sew, even though I wish I did. So a Snappi was definitely my best bet. I found the pre-folds easy to use and take care of. I used the "wet pail method". I washed one load of diapers every two days and dried them on a clothes line. I had to experiment with ways to get stains out of the diapers without using bleach, which causes the fibers to become thinner and less absorbent. I used Oxyclean and white bar soap for the stains, and baking soda and vinegar for the smell.
My husband had no problem diapering our son with the pre-folds as well. I did feel that they weren't very practical for days when we were running a lot of errands, or when we went on trips. On those occasions we used disposable diapers.
Another downside was that the pre-folds were very bulky and made my baby look like he had a HUGE booty! I didn't really mind the look of a big booty, but it did make it hard to wear certain cute baby outfits. Usually he had to wear larger sized clothing instead of his "true" size, because of the extra diaper bulk.
Those pre folds and five diaper covers got us all the way through to when my son self potty trained on his second birthday. He continued to sleep in a cloth diaper at night (just in case) for another year.
When our second baby came along, a wonderful friend gave us a big supply of used Fuzzi Bunz. Fuzzi Bunz are pocket diapers, which means you have a small absorbent piece of material that fits inside of a diaper-shaped "envelope". I was excited about using these, thinking they were a step up from pre-folds. They were less bulky than the pre-folds, and easier to take in a diaper bag, but the care and maintenance was about the same. Fuzzi Bunz have snap fasteners which, in my experience, are complicated for caregivers who aren't the primary diaper changer in the relationship. I read lots of testimonials about how Fuzzi Bunz never leak, but personally I had a big problem with leakage (even with a diaper doubler). Another downside is that Fuzzi Bunz come in specific sizes, so that theoretically you might have to buy an entire supply of diapers in more than one size. Instead of buying 15 diapers and being done with it, you would have to buy 15 size small + 15 size medium +15 size large = three times the money!
I do have a friend who swears by Fuzzi Bunz, but they didn't work for my child.
Eventually I was able to get a great supply of BumGenius diapers. I bought several of them on clearance at Cotton Babies. I wanted to try them initially because they are One Size! One diaper can fit babies from 7 pounds to 35 pounds. Note: my 3 1/2 year old weighs 32 pounds. You could potentially get A LOT of mileage out of these diapers. I have 15 of these and use about 7 per day on my 7-month-old.
I like BumGenius diapers because they are used in the same way as disposables, thereby making me confident to let babysitters and relatives handle them when they care for my baby. They have velcro tabs which fasten in the same way as disposables. BumGenius are pocket diapers, and I "put them together" and stack them in our diaper stacker. For outings, I carry along a Bummis Diaper tote, size small. This gives me a place to put the wet or dirty diaper while we are out and about. The Diaper totes are good about controlling odor, so I have no worries!
So far, BumGenius have served well as an overnight diaper as well. I use two diaper inserts at night and have had very few leaks. In fact, I have had more night time leaks with disposable diapers.
To launder my BumGenius diapers, I use the dry pail method. I wash them using Charlie's Soap and add vinegar to the rinse cycle to neutralize urine odors. I hang the covers to dry. I put the inserts in the dryer with some Dryer Balls instead of fabric softener. Try Nellie's Dryer Balls. Fabric softener is a no-no for cloth diapers, because it creates a waxy build-up on the fabric that impedes absorbency. Now I use Dryer Balls on all of my laundry that goes in the Dryer. They are great if you have a family member who is sensitive to perfumes (like my eczema child!).
I love my cloth diapers, and I look forward to using them on my future children, as well as passing them on to friends when my diapering days are over!


Reese.Mom07 said...

I saw your post on the Cotton Babies owners blog and came over to read!

Glad I did, you have really great info on your blog about CD! I am just starting my transition to BumG's (I have 2 that I am going to try out tomorrow) and then plan on making the BIG purchase to have a good stock!

My girl is 3 months and with the amount of trash I am adding to the landfills and her diaper rash that keeps coming back - I just feel it is the best thing I can do!

I guess I am slowing becoming that Granola Mom I used to laugh at :-)


Kathleen @ Katydid and Kid said...

I just sent you an email but was also reading your posts about cloth diapers. I too use the pre-folds, the snappi and the Bummis covers due to the price, and they're not too bad to use and clean. I do the dry pail method and sprinkle the diapers with baking soda to neutralize the odors in the pail. I do a pre-rinse and post-rinse in addition to the regular wash and add vinegar to the cycle as well. It's nice that we have a front-loader because it doesn't use too much water. And drying them on the line really takes out a lot of the stains.

I've considered using the Bum Genius but am not sure if I want to make the investment when the pre-folds are working ok. We're not sure if we'll have another child but if we did, it would be nice to get more use out of them.

Thanks for some great posts on cloth diapering! I feel like we're kindred spirits; when I read the posts, so many things resonate with my experience.

Amanda said...

Question for you - I've heard that people end up getting sick of the BumGenius? How are you liking yours at this point? I am trying to decide what to order for my baby girl due at the beginning of November. I know I shouldn't order too many of anything :)