In Which I Gush About Cloth Diapering

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July 12, 2012 by Leah

After the months I spent doing detailed research on baby-related paraphernalia, I suppose it’s only fair to report on how everything is going with regards to using said accoutrements.

Let’s start with cloth diapering. Firstly, I must say: it is awesome. We use prefolds and covers almost exclusively right now. The system works thusly: Prefolds are cloth (usually cotton) diapers that are sewn up in such a manner that they’re divided into thirds, with extra layers in the middle for absorbency. They are called prefolds because you don’t have to fold up a giant cloth.

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We use a miraculous device called a Snappi to secure these prefolds, and cover the whole thing with a waterproof diaper cover, either commercially made with waterproof fabric, or handmade out of wool and then lanolized. We have some pocket diapers with microfiber inserts (they work just how you think they work) and lining, but a dozen of those were an impulse Craigslist buy and aren’t the best (they’re kind of worn, but more importantly they only have a single row of snaps, which makes it difficult to get a secure fit).

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Elias wore “sposies” (disposable diapers) for the two days we were in the hospital but we switched to cloth immediately upon coming home. The transition was not a problem because I’d shelled out for newborn sized diapers and covers, which were a perfect fit for a couple of weeks. We had two dozen diapers and five covers (four would have been plenty).

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It took me a bit of experimentation to figure out the laundering, but now we have it down to a science. One cold express wash with no soap, one hot regular cycle with Charlie’s Soap, and 50-60 minutes in the drier. Voila, clean diapers. Also, there’s no need for a fancy diaper pail – we just line a hamper with a wetbag and use it as a diaper pail. It sits on our room, lidless, and doesn’t smell, so when you read that airflow is good for diaper pails – it’s true! (Note: this may change when he starts solids.)

We’ve been doing a load a day, pretty much, although he was still ramping up his peeing (in the first week he went from a couple of pees a day to like 20) when we first got home, so I think I held off on doing the first wash for a few days. By the end of week one, though, I’m sure he was going through 20ish diapers a day (we have 24 of the newborn size), and this continued until he was around five weeks, at which point things began to slow down a bit. Instead of every diaper being poopy, we now have a few poops a day (maybe five?) and when my mom was here two weeks ago she only counted 16 diapers in a load of wash, instead of 20 or more. (I suppose I could go over my obsessively detailed blog entry from the other day and count diaper changes, but I haven’t kept track of feedings or changes up to this point, so why start now?) The coolest thing is that he is going less – and hardly ever pooping – at night.

There was a brief period when I had Elias in pocket diapers at night (we have one nice new pocket diaper with appropriate snaps) in hopes that feeling drier (the microfiber wicks moisture away from baby) would help him sleep longer. This did not work, and after one night with two poop blowouts (user error or bad design I know not) I went back to our trusty prefolds and covers. I sometimes stick a newborn size diaper inside his regular nighttime diaper to act as a doubler (definition: any extra fabric added to a diaper that increases absorbency), but only if I remember, which is rarely. He usually goes to sleep between 830 and 930 and wakes up around 130-230 and then around 430-530; I tend to change him at the later feeding and find that he is pretty wet but not ridiculously so. When he was littler than his current ripe old age of seven weeks he seemed to hate being in a wet diaper, and while he still seems uncomfortable and lets us know when he’s wet, the situation is no longer the end of the world.

He’s been wearing his collection of three dozen size small prefolds with assorted covers for about five weeks now, and I still do diaper laundry every day. (Not sure how that math works – fewer pees + more diapers = the same amount of laundry? Whatever, it’s easy laundry.) Also, because he’s Giant Growing Boy, I just ordered three dozen medium-sized diapers and a couple of medium covers for him. Six of our covers (four Flip, one Grovia, one Econobum) are fully adjustable, size-wise, but my favorite covers (Thirsties, with Bummis being a close second – for the record, I really like our others, too) are sized like the diapers. So, here’s hoping the mediums fit for a few months! I read that breastfed babies tend to grow like crazy for the first few months and then slow down a bit, which I hope is what happens with us. I love that my guy is growing and thriving, but I want him to slow down and be a little baby for a while longer.

Oh, I also ordered a dozen “flats,” or traditional cloth diapers that need to be folded (the kind I wore in Indonesia in 1981), because they’re supposed to be great for handwashing and quick drying and I’m determined to go camping before the summer is over. (They would also be handy in a post-apocalyptic setting and they make fabulous musical instrument cleaning rags.)

I’ve been composing this on my phone in bed, because someone will only nap while touching me today, but that same someone now needs a diaper change. So, in summation, cloth is amazing. No chemicals on baby, super easy, not gross or smelly, our water usage almost doubled but apparently that’s not even worth $3 a month to the City of Walla Walla, and we shouldn’t have to buy diapers for subsequent children. (Except I’m sure I will because they are fun to buy.) Y’all should try this.

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2 thoughts on “In Which I Gush About Cloth Diapering

  1. Joelle says:

    Hurray for cloth!! We’re quite happy with it at our house, too, but I’ve not been quite as dedicated. A used sposies until the meconium stopped – approximately the first week. Also, we do diaper laundry every other day. During the every dirty diaper was a poopy diaper stage, we sometimes didn’t have enough covers to make it two days, so she’d do a few sposies then, too. And we’ve used them while out and about, although I really don’t know why. It isn’t necessary or much more convenient. And I hear you on the water usage. Although the city of college place apparently values water differently than the city of walla walla!

  2. David G says:

    We like the cloth too. We have used the disposables for trips and Ruth tended to get more diper rash than with the cloth dipers. I like the covers with buttons better than the ones with velcro. The ones with velcro come undone too easily now that Ruth is bigger. Also the velcro tends to catch stuff thay hinder the connection.

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