Saturday, July 14, 2012

A little more about cloth diapers

Back in  May I mentioned that we had made the switch from disposable diapers to cloth diapers. Since we've been using them for a few months now I thought it might be helpful to go a little more in depth about how it's going for us.

There is so much information on the web about cloth diapers and which ones are best and how they are impossible to wash and all of the crazy sub-things you need to go with them. Here is a break-down on what we are using and what is working for us.

Diapers: I have 16 BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diapers. I tried a few different kinds of diapers and found these to be the best for our needs. They are very similar to disposable diapers in how they are worn and put on. They have a microfiber insert which is tucked inside a pocket that is fleece on the top (the side that faces the baby) and a soft water-resistant shell that is on the outside. The fleece pulls the liquid down and through it to the microfiber insert inside. That way there is no moisture just sitting against baby's skin and causing diaper rash. These particular BumGenius diapers are a one size variety so they have a series of snaps that accommodate the rise (how high it comes up on baby's tummy) and also the fit around the waist.
They come in a variety of cute colors. I have 9 white and 7 colors. I wish they had red :(

Waiting to Wash: I am going with the dry pail approach to storing my dirty diapers before washing them. I am able to go approximately a day and a half to two days before I have to do wash. I chose to do it that way because A) I want to be sure to have a few diapers left on hand when washing so there are some for her to wear while they dry, and B) I don't want to leave them sit in the pail too long between washing for fear of bacteria growing on them. The dry pail I'm using is from Ikea and I really like it. It contains the smell perfectly and is a nice size. It's bigger than I need but it's not too big and will be useful when our diapering days are over. Inside I have a waterproof pail liner from Kanga Care. I definitely recommend having two of these because they take at least 2 days to dry so while one is hanging to dry I can use the other one in the pail. I also have a small wet bag from Planet Wise that I keep in the diaper bag for when we are out.
This pail liner is the Root Beer color. I also have Platinum which is gray.

Washing: Washing cloth diapers is one of the more scary aspects when doing research online. There is the whole repelling issue that seems to be a problem for some people. Repelling is when the diaper won't absorb anymore and the liquid just beads up on top of the fleece lining. This can cause leaks and smell problems. From what I've read repelling is caused by detergent build-up on your diapers. You have to use special laundry "soap" to clean cloth diapers that doesn't contain any additives or brightners. After looking on a few websites that have Cloth Diaper Approved laundry soaps on them, I decided to use Nellie's All Natural Laundry Soda. It seems to be the cheapest for the amount used and it comes in a pretty cute tin container that I can either recycle or use for something else when it's empty. The laundry routine I use is 1) cold pre-soak if there is a poopy diaper, 2) normal wash in hot water, 3) extra rinse in cold. (By the way, there are a ton of websites out there that have suggestions on how to wash your diapers to get rid of the repelling problem if you run into that. It seems to be a more frequent problem with people who have front loading machines. Thankfully we have a top loader.)
K calls it "The Dog Soap" because there is a picture of a dog on top.

Drying: The microfiber inserts can be dried in the washing machine (it usually takes me two cycles to get them all dry) and you can't use any fabric softer or dryer sheets so I use these dryer balls and they seem to keep the inserts nice and fluffy. Usually I'm an adamant "If I can't dry it in the dryer I won't buy it" kind of girl but with these diapers, since I view them as a long term investment, I do actually line dry the outer shells. Normally I hang them on our rack inside but when the weather is nice, I bought a folding rack from The Container Store and clothes pins to put them out in the sun. Speaking of drying them in the sun, that's another way to help insure your diapers won't smell. The sun will bleach out any odors and stains should there be any left. Pretty cool!
You can see the Platinum pail liner on the rack.

Leaks: We had a few leaks in the very beginning with overnight sleeping. I did some research and spoke to a sales person at our local cloth diaper shop and she recommended adding a hemp insert to our diaper for overnight. The hemp goes in underneath the microfiber insert and is slow absorbing. The plan is that the fleece wicks the moisture down into the microfiber (which is fast absorbing) and then if it gets super saturated the hemp is there as a back up. The system works great for us and we've never had a leak since. I bought the BabyKicks Joey Bunz Premium hemp inserts because they are two thin inserts attached in a small spot at the top that I cut apart and just use one in her diaper per night. This way I have 6 inserts for the price of 3 and so far we've only needed to use one per night. If she starts wetting more as she get older I can always double them up again.

Diaper Rash: You can only use Cloth Diaper Approved diaper rash creams. Thankfully we haven't had to use any so far so I haven't done too much research on these yet. I'm pretty prompt about changing E's diaper so any wetness doesn't sit against her skin for too long. The only time I notice she gets a little red is after a poop but when that happens I try and give her a few minutes of nudie-butt time with each diaper change and it seems to clear up in a day or so. It's never really red or painful looking (nothing like the chemical burns K got from Pampers Dry Max) so I haven't had to worry about it yet.

Speaking of poop (because I know you're all wondering how that works) it's not as bad as I thought it would be. If you really don't want to hear about poop, skip this section and just look at the picture of the cute baby below...

If you're still reading, I assume you're curious so here goes. It used to be that I couldn't handle poop. Let's just say I had an easy gag reflex. So much changes when you have your own kid(s) and then again when you decide to use cloth diapers. With a disposable all you have to do is wipe the area clean, fold the dirty diaper into a neat little ball and chuck it into a waste can, preferably outside because those buggers will start to stink after a few hours. With a cloth diaper, you have to take care of the mess yourself. At this point E is still breastfed so her poops are different than a formula fed baby and also a baby who is on solids. Her poop is definitely not solid but she only goes once a week so I only have to clean it once a week, which isn't too bad. I've heard solid poop is fairly easy because you can just shake it off into the toilet, give the diaper a little spray with clean water and you're good to go until wash day. With E's poop, I take the insert out (to be rinsed in a few minutes) and rinse the crap out of the shell in the toilet (ha ha, see that pun I made there?) This can be a bit tedious since I will normally clean the toilet first (I know, I'm just going to be putting poop in it so why clean it first? But really, do I want to put my hands in a dirty toilet? I don't think so!) My mom showed me how to rinse the diaper in the water and then scrub the fleece lining together to get any remaining stains off. I usually do this three times with flushes in between until the diaper is basically free of any stains. Then I do the same thing with the microfiber insert which usually only needs one flush. I'm sure this sounds totally gross to anyone who isn't used to doing it but after the first two times, I've decided it's really not that bad and now I just see it as another step to using cloth diapers.

The last piece to this cloth diaper puzzle is wipes. I want to eliminate store-bought paper wipes and use cloth. I had some extra hooded baby towels that we weren't using so I'm going to try using those. So far I've cut the binding off (the part around the edges so it has a clean line and doesn't fray.) I wanted to take that part off so they will all be uniform in size so I can (hopefully) cross-fold them and put them in a pop-up wipes container. I still need to cut the towels into wipe-size rectangles and then zig-zag stitch around the edges so they won't fray. Maybe I'll get that done tomorrow...

Here is a link discussing our switch to cloth diapers.
Here is a link about using cloth baby wipes.
Here is a link to a comparison between the BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket diapers and the FuzziBunz One-Size Elite Pocket Diapers.

To leave you on a high note about cloth diapers, they sure look cute on a little ones booty: