Since I get a lot of questions about cloth diapers, I decided to put something together as a quick reference for anyone interested in getting started! We have basically been cloth diapering for the past 6 1/2 years and are still using them on our 4th child (for nighttime) so we have a lot of experience in this area~! There are so many great reasons to use cloth diapers. (1) The most important factor for us was the health/safety of our children. Disposable diapers are full of toxins, which is a serious concern of mine, considering how many diapers touch the baby’s bottom and the length of time they are in diapers! (2) There is also the HUGE factor of cost savings. Spending $600-$700 up front will help you realize a savings in the THOUSANDS over the span of time you keep your child in diapers. Since we are still using the diapers we originally purchased, our savings are considerable, to say the least! If you are interested in calculating how much you will save using the cloth diaper of your choice, here is a good resource: http://diaperpin.com/calculator/calculator.asp. I did a post awhile back and calculated our savings HERE. (4) Last but not least is the environmental factor – saving tons of space in landfills!
Cloth diapering has changed so much since the days of soggy fabric, pins and rubber pants. In fact, it’s a huge industry now and there are so many great options out there. We went with a pocket diaper which allows you to stuff an insert into the pocket of the shell and then remove the insert again for washing. This makes for quick dry times and an easy system of diapering. We originally chose to invest in the Fuzzi Bunz brand of diapers (in 2005). I prefer snaps to velcro and like the having the fleece touch the baby’s bottom. The outer shell is made of a waterproof material (PUL), so no need for rubber pants! These dipes have held up really well. We have since had to replace the size mediums for baby #4 since the elastic was worn out after 4 years+ of washing and drying. We are now primarily using Kawaii Baby Diapers (from http://www.theluvyourbaby.com) and they are working really well!
Regarding the inserts: I personally like the microfiber inserts the best. I’ve used these as well as the hemp inserts. Both do a good job, I just prefer the absorbency of the microfiber. I will often combine one microfiber with one hemp insert for extra absorbency, especially for overnight. I originally purchased my Fuzzi Bunz from cottonbabies.com and they included a free microfiber insert (their own design) with each dipe. I’ve been really pleased with these inserts. They have held up remarkably well and are still going strong through 4 babies. Most diapering systems now will provide some type of free insert for each diaper.
The best resource for getting info. on all kinds of diapering systems (including inserts) and even reviews on individual products is at http://www.diaperpin.com. The reviews and websites listed on this site helped me make my final decisions in the cloth diapering arena. Click on the “product reviews” link at the top to get to all the various cloth diapering systems and their ratings!
Another great way to stock up on diapers and save $$ is to grab some that are pre-loved! Head to www.diaperswappers.com and join the forum and you can get some really great deals on diapers that have lots of life left. This seriously became an addiction for me 🙂 I got so many diapers I loved via their site! It’s also a great way to tap into the resources of lots of cloth diapering moms who are happy to answer questions!
When you purchase diapers, you will need enough to get you comfortably through 2 days. You probably won’t want less than 18-20 since in the early months of baby’s life, they are using up to 10 a day. The diapers shouldn’t sit in the pail longer than 2 days – you don’t want them getting too funky! If you get “sized” diapers, you’ll probably need more of the small sizes than the mediums, since small babies tend to go through more diapers.
Making your own wipes can also save you a bundle…not to mention being MUCH better for your baby. Store-bought wipes are full of chemicals. Check the ingredients – you’ll likely not be able to pronounce most of them! In the beginning, I made my own disposable wipes using very soft paper towel cut in half and core removed (like Viva) and adding my wipes solution to it. However, for the past two babies, I have used cloth wipes that are reusable and get washed/dried with the diapers. This saves even more money!
I’ve used lots of different wipes solutions over the years….
Start with 2-3 cups of purified water (depending on how many wipes you are making) and then add one or more of the following:
— 2-3 drops tea tree oil
— 2-3 drops of lavender oil
— 5-6 drops grapefruit seed extract
— 1 tsp. of natural baby wash (like Burts bees)
Lately, I’ve been keeping it simply by just adding some Burt’s Bees baby wash to water! I use a whisk to make sure the ingredient(s) are thoroughly mixed into the water and then pour the whole mixture over the wipes. Easy and effective!
Diaper pail: You’ll need a pail that will be able to hold 18-24 diapers without overflowing! I have a pail that I got from www.punkinbutt.com that has worked really well for me. Many people just buy medium sized plastic trash cans to store their diapers as well. Either will work fine.
Pail liner: It’s great to have a waterproof diaper pail liner (made with the same fabric as the outside of the dipes) that can be thrown in the wash right along with the rest of the diapers. It makes it easier if you can just lift the bag (containing all the dirty diapers) right out of the pail and empty and throw the whole bunch in, without having to touch the diapers again.
Travel wet bag: You will need a wet bag to hold dirty diapers when you are traveling (short day trips). It should be able to hold just a handful of diapers and fit in your diaper bag. I have a couple made by NappSack, which are great! They are sold by a few different sites.
After some trial and error, I came up with a washing system that works really well for me. You’ll need to use a detergent that is free of dyes and perfumes. Charlie’s Soap is a highly recommended product that is very cost effective, all natural and extremely effective at removing odor, dirt and stains! Here is my diaper washing routine (every other day):
1. (RINSE) – I run the diapers through an entire wash/rinse cycle withOUT soap, to get as much of the “dirties” out of the diaper prior to adding detergent.
2. (SOAK) – I will periodically soak diapers if they start to get a little funky:
-Add scoop of baking soda (sometimes a few drops of tea tree oil)
-Let fill and agitate briefly to dissolve baking soda
-Soak for 45 minutes
-Allow to agitate again, then move to high spin – spin out water
3. (WASH) – Now it’s time to add detergent!
-Move your setting back to your longest wash cycle
-Change water temp to HOT
-Change extra rinse to ON
-Add 2 TBS (smallest scoop) of detergent (“Free and Clear”)
4. (DRY) – It’s best NOT to dry the shells all the way. If you can take them out part-way through the drying cycle, it will help them last longer!
-Dry all on temperature: MEDIUM
If you want to save/print a document with this wash routine click the link below: