Dear internet: I love cloth diapering. Like, LOVE cloth diapering. SO MUCH. In fact, I have become sort of obsessed with it. I wish I could buy all the adorable cloth diapers that are out there, but my husband won't let me. Rude. But I really do love them. We like to consider ourselves semi-crunchy kind of people in our household. We recycle more than we throw things away. I am completely supportive of anybody who wants to nurse, even though it didn't work out for us. I am making my own baby food [even though we are still totally in the beginning stages]. I carry my kiddo around in a ring sling or our Ergo when I can.
But, you know, I used to drive a gas-guzzling SUV. I am also horrible about remembering to turn off lights in the house, which drives M crazy. I don't always buy organic when it's just for M & I. So as green as we try to be, I kind of suck at it other times. Eggs, milk and meat always -- everything else organic when we can budget it.
Long before M & I had Lucas, when we were just talking about maybe having a baby, we knew we wanted to cloth diaper. Neither of us had done a lot of research into it, but we knew this was the route we wanted to go. There wasn't a lot of debate. No back and forth of which was better, cloth or disposable, the pros and cons to each. In fact, our conversation sort of went like this:
Me: What do you think about cloth diapering?
Him: I think we should do it and think it's a great idea when we do have a baby.
Me. OK then. Cloth diapering it is.
And that's what we stuck with. It was honestly the easiest parenting decision we have ever made. When we thought of cloth diapering, we had prefolds in mind. That's what we both instantly thought of when the term "cloth diapering" came up. There were discussions of diapers and pins and laundering services because who wants to stick poopy diapers into your washing machine? It wasn't until I started researching cloth diapers that I realized how far things had come since M & I were wee little tots. Not only far, but CONFUSING. Suddenly we had so many choices. Prefolds. Pockets. All-In-Ones. Fitted's. Covers or no covers. Then there was the topic of washing -- how did we do it? What did we wash with? I was overwhelmed. I only knew one other person who used cloth diapers at the time, and even with her giving me the best description she could, I didn't know which way we would go.
I picked the brain of my friend & listened to her experiences. I visited our local cloth diapering store and felt every diaper they had. I asked the owner question after question. I researched online until I was blue in the face. This was my baby's cute little booty! I wanted to make sure that his skin was as protected as it could be. I also would like to say that I am in no way an expert. These are merely my experiences with cloth diapers. I have read other accounts of what people do, and it varies drastically [and sometimes not so drastically, but still different] from what we do. What we do and what we use is not the end all. It's just works for us. As with everything in parenting, do what works for you! I just really, really love cloth diapering.
SO WHY CLOTH DIAPERS?
There are a lot of detailed reasons why we chose to cloth diaper, and why it is generally better for baby and the environment. There is a great list of diaper facts over at the Real Diaper Association that can go into the details a little more.
But our reasons were a little more simple. It's just better. Better for baby. Better for the environment. Better for our pocket books. We are not contributing additional waste to our already full land fills, and we are saving, literally, thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers instead of disposables. On top of that, disposables are full of so many chemicals. Our kiddo is already going to be exposed to so many things in his life, so why not do what we can and keep the thing touching is little private parts TWENTY FOUR SEVEN as natural as possible.
The initial cost if cloth diapering can be hard to swallow. It's a huge expense up front, which can be hard for some families to do. We did not start off cloth diapering right away. In fact, we didn't put the first cloth diaper on our little guy until he was about 8 weeks old. Every mom knows that those first few weeks you go through so many diapers. We were changing 10-12 diapers a day, which means that I would have been doing laundry every single day. Plus, newborn cloth diapers can vary in size from the standard brands that you have probably heard of. So, we sucked it up and used disposables for those first few weeks.
On top of that, chunky legs wear cloth diapers differently than skinny newborn legs. I have found that with certain brands, as Lucas has gained weight, the diaper has not fit as well as it did when he was a little lighter. Diapers that don't fit well lead to leaking, and nobody wants to deal with that. If you want to cloth diaper from the beginning [and I know people that have done it!] check to see if you have a local cloth diapering store that does a rental program. Some places will have a stash of newborn cloth diapers that you can rent for those first few weeks, until you find a brand that fits well with your baby. We chose not to do this, but our cost output is still significantly less than what it would be if we were only using disposables.
WHAT BRAND DO YOU USE?
I should first start out by saying that we use one-size pocket diapers. When we were doing our research, we decided that pockets was what was best for us. I wasn't overly excited about using prefolds, and All-In-Ones were a little out of our price range. So pockets it was, and they are just that -- diapers with pockets in them, which requires stuffing an insert inside [see above!] All of my advice/experiences come from using pocket diapers [with an exception of using fitted's, which I will get to eventually!] with no experience in anything else. We also went with one-size diapers because we wanted something that would last through our diapering years, without having to continually update our stash with different sizes. I have a couple of guest bloggers lined up who use prefolds & AIO's -- I have asked them to share their experiences so that we can fully represent all types of cloth diapers here. So be on the lookout!
When we first started buying cloth diapers, we bought a couple different brands. Since we hadn't met our kiddo, we didn't know what would work best for him and we wanted to make sure that if we were going to drop $300-$500, that we were spending it on diapers that best fit our baby. I have found that people can be VERY committed to one brand over another, or they buy strictly on what their friends have. This is totally fine! But we weren't afraid to try some different things out to figure out what worked best for us. Initially, we bought a couple of Bum Genius 4.0's [snaps and velcro], a couple of SunBaby diapers, and a KawaiiBaby Heavy Wetters. Ultimately, the SunBaby diapers were sold to the highest bidder. I REALLY wanted to like them because they are on the cheaper spectrum when it comes to pocket diapers but they just didn't work for us. I had to have the snaps fixed on two of them within the first couple of months of use, and I found that due to the type of material they were made with, it made stuffing difficult [it was almost like the inside was "sticky." Weird.] The KawaiiBaby Heavy Wetters were used at night, and I will write about those later.
When I was getting rid of my SunBaby diapers, I was looking for something else to replace them with. I stumbled upon GoGreen Diapers on Pinterest, of all places, because they had a super adorable giraffe print that I decided I had to have. Not because it was a brand I knew [it wasn't] but simply because it was cute. When I got the diaper, it worked so well that I fell in love and ordered a couple more. I highly recommend this diaper. It is thinner than normal pocket diapers, but we have never had any problems with leaking. And despite it being less than $10, it is extremely well made. I am a fan.
[*Update* GoGreen has since got rid of their cheaper brand and is selling a slightly more heavy duty diaper. I have not used this and cannot speak to it's quality.]
I also bought some KawaiiBaby Bamboo Minky's. I LOVE these diapers not only because they are incredibly soft [SO SOFT!!] but they fit Lucas so incredibly well. These & the GoGreen's have the same kind of fit, and we are able to get them really snug around the hips without cutting circulation off around legs. Also, a very good price. We only have three of these, but I am in love, love, love.
But 75% of our diapers are the Bum Genius 4.0 Pocket diapers [which are the diapers at the introduction of this post!]. I love these diapers. They area functional. Reliable. Easy to keep clean. They fit extremely well & we have had no problems with leaking. All of our diapers, including the BG's, are snaps. We bought one BG velcro, and I sold it. I didn't like the way it fit, and the velcro was already starting to wear out after a few uses. Snaps are harder for baby to get undone themselves [when the time comes] and I feel like they have a better hold on keeping the diaper secure. But I love our Bum Genius diapers. With any diaper, you want to remember to change frequently. If the insert is full, the diaper will leak. That's just common sense. This will also help cut back on diaper rash. We have only had one diaper rash, and it was when we were using disposables. Sometimes his front will get a little red, but I use some California Baby cream & it clears it right up.
PHEW. That was a long intro to cloth diapering. And we still have a ways to go. The next installation will talk about how we wash them, the system we use for storing & overnight diapers. So come back!