In Which I Lay Plans to Cloth Diaper and Doubt My Parenting Skills

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January 18, 2012 by Leah

So, I was kind of afraid my nesting instinct would never kick in. Even after the last post, where I grudgingly compiled my list of baby must-haves. Then something magical happened this weekend (it was either hanging out with babies, hitting 21 weeks gestation, or a trip to IKEA) and both Aaron and I are suddenly interested in finishing our guest room, rearranging our living area, and turning our spare bedroom into a baby room. I’m back to trolling diaperswappers.com and thebabywearer.com for used Ergo (or maybe Beco) baby carriers and Cloth-eeze (aka GMD or Green Mountain Diaper) pre-folds.

We are, again, debating whether to sidecar the crib. Aaron wasn’t really interested in where the baby would sleep at the time I was doing all that research, but he’s getting more into baby prep as Sprocket becomes more observable. If we don’t sidecar the crib, I think we’ll set up the crib in the nursery so we have somewhere to put Sprocket for naps and get an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper off eBay as was the original plan. I’m beginning to think that trying to limit baby stuff for the sake of limiting stuff is an admirable goal, but that neither of us is going to want to take apart and reassemble the crib multiple times and $100 (used co-sleeper plus shipping) might not be too much to pay for the convenience of not having to do that. We’ll see.

As to diapers, I think I mentioned we’ve always known we would cloth diaper. Aaron is vehemently anti-waste. (So much so that I upped my in-home recycling program considerably when we were dating, in order to impress him with my dedication. I think hauling recyclables down three flights of stairs and across town was worth it, as obviously he was impressed.) I am also anti-waste. And anti-chemical. And irrationally anti-corporation. I hate throwing money away. And going to the store. So, the cloth vs. disposables decision was made without really thinking about it.

Once one makes that decision, though, things don’t get any easier. I’ve been researching cloth diapers for approximately three years and I feel I finally have a handle on the options and terminology. There are two main styles – all-in-ones, or AIOs, and cover-liner systems. We’re going with the cover-liner system. Some of these systems have reusable covers and disposable (biodegradable, usually) liners, which one still has to replenish. Cover-liner systems make more sense, financially, as you don’t have to wash the covers as often as you wash the liners, so you don’t have to buy as many covers, and reusable liners are pretty cheap, even if you buy them new and organic.

I’m erring in terminology here by calling liners “liners.” What I’m actually talking about are called “pre-folds.” These are easily recognizable as diapers and technically work by themselves as long as they are pinned or otherwise held together, but the covers help contain messes, liquids, and smells, and are generally cute. One can line one’s pre-folds with extra fabric for overnight wear, and these liners are called “doublers” or “inserts.” They just look like cloth pads and are laid in a diaper to provide extra absorbency.

The variety of diaper covers out there is staggering. I am partial towards the “one-size” kind that are adjustable and fit kids from 8 or 10 lbs through toddlerhood, so will try to get a bunch of those. We will also be buying newborn size diapers and covers, because while apparently one can make small diapers and covers fit one’s newborn, properly-fitting diapers can make the new-parent/cloth-diapering learning curve a lot easier to handle. And, for various reasons, I feel I need all the help I can get during those first few months.

I’m obsessed with getting these particular pre-folds because people seem to love them for their quality. They don’t appear on diaperswappers.com without getting someone wanting to buy or trade for them within a few minutes. I’m holding off on actually ordering any because I still have, what, four months? And we just bought a changing table and high chair from IKEA and those were kind of big-deal purchases. (They’re foldable and black and white. I’m very excited.)

So. Maybe I’ll start ordering diapering supplies a little at a time. If I sewed I could, apparently, make my own, but I don’t sew – I break sewing machines. I have knitted two wool diaper covers already, though, that I just need to lanolize so they repel wetness. One we call the “Russian baby pants” (I was going for a rockstar vibe, but they look oh-so-homemade…) and the other are some “longies” which is just shorthand for long pants that are also a wool diaper cover.

I’m still having momentary freak-outs. I had our five-week-old cousin snoozing on my chest on Sunday and suddenly experienced a moment of sheer terror because I realized that, come summer, I’ll have one ALL THE TIME. I don’t think this is what usually happens when one is holding angelically sleeping babies, but I felt better after a discussion of the parenting styles on “Toddlers and Tiaras” we had during my Moms-to-Be swim class last night. I’ve never seen the show, but I am reasonably certain I will not be giving Red Bull to my three-year-old. So that’s comforting.

Sprocket's Longies

Russian Baby Pants. Yes, the star will soon be pink.

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10 thoughts on “In Which I Lay Plans to Cloth Diaper and Doubt My Parenting Skills

  1. lahancock says:

    If you are planning on buying prefolds, I say buy new. They are not very expensive and you will get a longer life out of them. If you were buying a bum genius/fuzzibum/rumparooz style diaper, then I would say, find them used. The reason I’m saying this is that after four years of constant use on our prefolds with a snappi, our largest size is starting to disinigrate. Part of that is from the snappi use, slowly causing breaks in the fibers, but the other issue is pee. Yes pee! Toddler pee that is. As kids get bigger, they have less diaper changes, which sometimes leads to less frequent washing. The enzymes in your beautiful toddler’s pee can break down the diapers if not washed shortly after going in them. I did not know about this until recently. We don’t use bleach on our diapers, just baking soda, vinegar and a free and clear detergent (which might be an issue too). After hundreds of washings the diapers do break down just from normal use.

    You may get some used that someone just changed their mind about cloth diapering, which would be a great bonus for you but, more than likely they will have been used for a while.

    Also be careful on the used covers too, if someone has dried them in high heat frequently (I have done this, so I should know) the PUL fabric can become delaminated, making them non-absorbant.

    • Woohoo, thanks for the excuse to buy new without feeling guilty! 🙂 The one lady in our swim class who is already a mother was telling a couple of us yesterday about how she uses a special diaper wash that doesn’t have brighteners or any ingredients that can make the diapers less absorbent, which I totally meant to look into today. She and the instructor (mother of five, grandmother of two) are fonts of information.

      • Kristina says:

        jilliansdrawers.com and diaperjunction.com offer cloth diaper tryout programs, where they’ll refund some money if you decide it’s not for you. They then sell their gently used items at a discount. We bought some Kissaluvs size 0 fitted diapers and a couple Thirstys covers that way, and I have no complaints with them. I get lazy with the prefolds and instead of using the snappy, I just fold it in three, put it in the cover, and attach to baby 🙂 For night, we are using one large prefold, a small prefold, and one insert, with diaper cover and soaker. She can be a heavy wetter 🙂 In May, I think, BumGenius (through all the websites that sell them), offer buy 5 get 1 free. Anyway, I think they have this sale twice a year, or so.

      • Kristina says:

        Oh, and we also use Tide Original to wash them.

  2. Kristina says:

    Oh, and you are going to be a good mother.

  3. lahancock says:

    Kristen has some good points. With the next one, I may not use the snappis as much. You really don’t need them. It is nice because the diapers stay in place with the snappi, but it does create an extra step.

    Bum Genius also sometimes sells used, although I haven’t seen it happen in a long time. If they do, I will make sure to pass it along. I bought ten before Nick was born from Cotton Babies (the makers of Bum Genius). They were used, but in decent condition, some needed the velcro tabs re-sewn but that was a quick fix. Some the elastic was a bit worn out, but all still had enough lamination left in them that they were okay. I got them for $2 a piece and paid the extra $1 to get velcro tabs sent too.

    I love the kissaluv fitteds. I haven’t used them, but I have one in my teaching Hypnobabies stash that I got as a demo. They are adorable and look so snuggly.

    And I love our thirsties covers. They are one of the only ones that held up for a decent amount of time. I did purchase new ones with Nick, because the lamination does break down with time.

  4. lahancock says:

    Ohh and we also use Tide Free and Clear.

    • Kristina says:

      How do you like using the Tide Free and Clear? We have Tide Original for the diapers, which seems to work fine, but then we’ve also got All Free and Clear for her clothing. I’ve also got a box of Arm and Hammer with Oxiclean (I think) that we had before baby, stopped using it once she came, but I’ve pulled it our for our stuff because I hate wasting a box of detergent. But if we could eventually narrow it all down to one thing of detergent, that would be mighty nice. For the diapers I always do an extra rinse after the washing, and she hasn’t had any reactions… so maybe I could use Tide Original for her clothing, too? (we’re going to run out of the All, soon).

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