Monday, March 5, 2012

Essentials of Cloth Diapering: The Basics

Alright, give me some grace with this post - This is only my third day cloth diapering so, there will be information that I may miss or might not know.

If you are thinking about ditching your costly and environmentally-unfriendly disposable diapers and moving into the unknown world of cloth diapering, there are a few things that you are going to need:
  1. Diapers 
  2. Well, DUH, but how many diapers should you get when cloth diapering?? It depends on which type of diaper you want to use: All-in-one Pocket Diapers or Prefolds using a Cover. (Technically there are additional types, but these seem to be the most widely used... please correct me if I am wrong!)

    All-in-ones are pretty easy. They're really very similar to disposables. They take longer to dry, however, because you cannot put the cover in the dryer and the all-in-one covers have cloth sewn into them! (The pocket diapers, such as the bumGenius all-in-ones also have an opening on the inside at the top so you can stuff in extra inserts for more absorbency.)

    bumGenius all-in-one-diapers
    You will need to make sure that you velcro the tab to the inside of the diaper
    so that it does not pull on anything in the wash!
    Prefolds have a cover that also cannot be put in the dryer, but they dry faster than the all-in-ones because you are not waiting for the cloth to dry. And of course, you can put the folded insert in the dryer. (You can also reuse the liner if it didn't get any poop on it!)

    econobum prefold diapers
    So, if you are using all-in-ones then you will want about 24, so that you have enough to not have to do laundry every day and because they take longer to dry, so you don't want to be stuck without diapers!  I would say that with the prefolds, I guess you'd also WANT 24 also, but if you are already doing laundry almost every day anyway (who isn't with babies or kids, right?) then you could do a pre-wash with the inserts only and then add in other laundry in a regular wash. So, really you could get away with about 18 prefolds. I think at least. Hey, I could be really wrong, like I said, this is Day 3 of cloths.

  3. Inserts or Doublers
  4. No matter which diaper you choose, you will want to invest in some extra inserts so that you can double up or triple up on the absorbency! 

  5. Somewhere to put dirty diapers!
  6. DUH again, but again it depends on which system you want to use! Some people like to soak the diapers in water and then wash them, while others use a dry pail system. Really, I'm not sure of the point of the wet system, besides trying to cover up the smell. But they sell natural sprays specifically for cloth diaper pails that do just that. I mean really. You're going to have to dump that water out before you wash them. That just seems all sorts of wrong to me. Blech. Nasty poopy water, in my opinion, is MUCH more disgusting than a pail of dried up poopy diapers.  We use the dry system - could you guess? It's just a tall plastic trash-can looking pail, with a waterproof liner on the inside. 

    When all is done and full, you just pull it out of the pail and dump it in the washer. You don't even need to touch the diapers. Also, if you tend to change your baby's diaper upstairs or somewhere else far away from the laundry room, you might want a largish waterproof bag to put the diapers in, so that you can just dump them in the pail when it's full. 

    This bag is inside out because it's drying

  7. Travel-size wet bags
  8. You'll want a couple or even a few of these for when you are out and about. I say "a few" only because it seems like you can only really fit a couple diapers in them. 

    You can't really tell the size from the picture,
    but it's about 10"x12"

  9. Drying system
  10. This is not so much something you have to purchase, but something you need to figure out. Last night, we just hung the diapers on some hangers in our bathroom.

    Like I said though, they take a while to dry, so to speed the process today I stuck a couple hangers in front of the pellet stove and a portable heater.  You could get one of those drying racks things, or what my sister-in-law does is she take a piece of rope, wire, string, whatever is strong enough, and she nails it to the top of a door (the nail is flush so you can still shut the door). She then attaches the diapers to the string with clothes pins. 

    I saw something really neat on Pinterest that I want my hubby to build:  

    Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

  11. Toilet Sprayer
  12. This isn't something you need right away, especially if you are breastfeeding, and it is really more of a "nice-to-have" than an essential. The poop of breastfed babies is mostly water. When they start eating solids then their poop becomes more, well, solid... and I'm-not-putting-all-that-in-my-dryer-GROSS. We got our sprayer with a gift card, but it was $50 at Dilly's for Kids. So, it was something we would NOT have purchased without the gift card!  

    In case you cannot yet figure out what I am talking about, it's something you hook up to your toilet and you take the gross poopy diaper and spray it with the sprayer so the poop lands in the toilet. 

    I can envision this going awfully wrong with poop spraying everywhere, but you would of course want to at least try to dump some of the poop out into the toilet first before you start spraying an entire diaper full of it. Yuck. Can you tell I am still a new mom? I don't care, it's going to take a while to get used to those big-boy nasty, nasty poopy diapers. 

  13. Cloth Wipes
  14. This isn't a necessity, but why would you use disposable wipes if you're not using disposable diapers? Plus, it helps fill the wash so you don't feel guilty about running the washer for so long with so little in it. We have two kinds of wipes. One kind is the Prince Lionheart Bamboo Cloth Wipes and I am not sure what the other is, but I will update this post once I figure it out. The Prince Lionheart ones are soft, but they fray easily. Make sure you keep them away from velcro items that you have in your laundry! The other kind are sooo unbelievably soft and super, super absorbent. I put not even two cups of water in a bowl, tossed three of those wipes in, and they absorbed ALL of the water and barely dripped when I picked them up. Pretty impressive!  If you are doing cloth wipes, then you might want to get a wipes warmer.

    Honestly, I think Jacob is used to cold wipes now and it isn't something that's BAD for them, but I can imagine how much he would wake up in the middle of the night when I wipe his bum with a cloth that had been sitting in freezing cold water! I have the Prince Lionheart wipes warmer. It can also be used with disposable wipes, which is what I was doing. It keeps the disposables wet enough,but I feel like whatever is on a disposable wipe (alcohol? I don't know) gets washed off and the wipes feel kind of dried out. I haven't yet used it with cloth wipes, but I plan on it soon.

    This is what it looks like with cloth wipes in it.

  15. Laundry Detergent
  16. You can't use just any old detergent, unfortunately. Some detergents have ingredients that are too harsh on the diapers or that build up on the diapers and cause them to retain the odor and lose their absorbency. You will want to make sure that your detergent does not contain enzymes, brighteners, dyes, fragrances, softeners or bleach. The kind you buy will also depend on if you have a High Efficiency (HE) washer or a standard washer. We use Ecos Free and Clear Liquid.

    If you live in an area with hard water, then you will want to use RLR Laundry Treatment, Calgon, or Oxyclean.

  17. Diaper Rash Cream
  18. This is something you should have anyway, but, of course, there are certain kinds that you cannot use with cloth diapers. You want to check this ingredients and avoid anything with zinc oxide or cod liver oil in it. These ingredients will build up and again, will cause them to retain odors and lose absorbency. Unfortunately, this includes the ointment that's almost become synonymous with diaper rashes: Desitin. We actually need to go out and buy new rash cream, because we have Desitin.
Well, "that's it"! A lot more than plain old disposables and a Diaper Genie, but some say it's worth it. Again, still not sure if we're going to stick with it. Ask me again in four months when he starts eating solid foods ;-)

God bless


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