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Cloth Diapering 101 From a Rookie
The decision to cloth diaper our 3rd child, after using disposables with our previous 2 children, was one that came about somewhat out of the blue. A friend of ours, when hearing we were pregnant, offered to pass down all of her cloth diapering supplies to us once our baby was born. I remember picking them up from her house and feeling overwhelmed at just the thought of figuring this all out and learning something brand new, from scratch. I also remember very vividly, thinking that just because I was taking her supplies, didn’t mean I would actually go through with it. There was a part of me that didn’t really believe I would in fact, end up cloth diapering. But after Hayden was born, and the transition from 2-3 children slowly set in, I decided I wanted to give it a real solid chance, and so I made a silent promise to myself that when he turned 3 months old, I would give it a go. We’ve now been cloth diapering for almost 5 months and it has turned out to be one of the smartest and easiest decisions I have ever made. We’ve saved money and helped the environment all at the same time! Read through to see how this mother of 3 got a crash course in cloth diapering, and ended up loving it more than she ever thought she would.
Cloth Diapering Made Easy
I was nervous and skeptical about cloth diapering. But after a crash course weekend, we learned how to make it manageable and fit with our busy lives. Click through to read our journey into the world of cloth diapering.
Start When You're Ready
The first vow I made to myself was to try out cloth diapering when I felt ready, and the thought of it didn’t completely overwhelm me. For us, that was when Hayden was almost 4 months old. The first few weeks at home were stressful enough (and filled with hundreds of diaper changes), so we decided to try it when we had all settled in and adjusted a bit to life with a new baby. It was the most important and smartest decision we could have made.
The Diapers Themselves
There are tons of cloth diapering options out there on the market. Lucky for us, we were given 2 main kinds of diapers so we didn’t have to worry about which ones to purchase. We own 2 kinds of cloth diapers, ones that take inserts and ones that take “prefolds”, which are the old fashioned diapers that have been around for years. First up are these snap closure diapers, which take a microfiber pad that you insert into a pocket. To wash, you simply pull out the insert and throw in the washing machine.
There is an elastic waistband with buttons at the leg, to tighten up and give a better fit as needed, and multiple snap closures to grow with baby. These types of diapers also seem to hold moisture better, so overall these are our favorites. We were lucky to not have the expense of purchasing cloth diapers, which can be expensive, but a quick search shows that even with the expense of purchasing supplies from scratch, they are still cheaper in the long run than disposables. And even more cost effective if you use them with multiple babies.
Liner and Prefold
This is the other type of diaper we have; an outer liner that takes a standard cloth diaper that you fold up and insert. These take some practice to insert and lay straight so they don’t shift when you’re putting on baby, but once you get the hang of it they’re really easy as well.
The velcro closures make these super easy and quick to put on, and multiple snaps make adjusting for size simple. The main drawback is that they do seem to leak more than the other kind, so we don’t use them for nap time.
Speaking Of Leaks
To be honest, cloth diapers do tend to leak a bit more than disposables. To save myself extra laundry, when at home I keep Hayden undressed for most of the day, weather permitting. He doesn’t seem to mind being without clothes, and in fact prefers it! And I have less wash to do, so it all works out.
Caring For Cloth
The thing that stumped me the most about cloth diapering is how to actually care for them. Sure, putting them on baby I was sure would be easy, but then when it came to changing time, what on earth do you do with the diapers? Well to start off, you get yourself a diaper pail of sorts. Ours is a plastic pail that takes a plastic bag and flips open and close easily.
Make sure you stick 1 or 2 of these inside the pail to help control odors. There isn’t that big of a difference in smell between a cloth diaper pail and a disposable diaper pail, but if you don’t wash your diapers often you will notice a smell. These baking soda discs help a lot.
I aim to wash our cloth diapers every 2-3 days. This is the part that can be confusing but I’ve found a way to make it as easy as possible. I place all my diapers in the wash, and start with a cold water rinse only cycle. I then add some free and clear detergent that won’t leave a residue on the diapers, which could hinder the diaper’s moisture control, and a scoop of Borax to the wash, and set it for a extra hot sanitizing wash. The machine really does all the work and diapers come out much cleaner than I ever thought possible!
We Still Use Disposables Too
Hayden fills his diaper at night, and the cloth diapers just weren’t cutting it, so we use Huggies night time diapers to control leaks every single night. We also use Huggies disposables when traveling and on outings.
Traveling With Cloth
With 2 older kids, and very busy schedules that often keep us out of the house all day, I quite honestly haven’t found a way, or simply the fortitude to try and cloth diaper when traveling or out and about. They make bags to hold dirty cloth diapers, as seen here, but we have found it’s just more manageable for us to use disposables when we are out of the house. It’s about making it work for you, so don’t feel like it has to be all or nothing.
The Switch To Solids
One last thing I wanted to mention, is that cloth diapering once baby starts solids is a whole new ball game, and will really test your commitment to it. For bowel movements I have learned to rinse and dispose of most of the “poop” into the toilet and then wash within a day. We are now consistently doing a load every other day but somehow we’ve learned to get used to what I previously thought was very “icky” and just forge right along.
An Experience I've Grown To Love
Some days I will admit, I don’t love doing the wash and dealing with the mess, but I can honestly say that overall I have grown to love cloth diapering and would do it again if I could. We have saved money, and helped reduce our carbon footprint. For those 2 reasons alone, it has made our hassle well worth it.