Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beginners Guide to Cloth Diapers

If that's not a cute diaper, I don't know what is ^^

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I'd blog about cloth diapers.  I want to keep it short and sweet and informative too.  I first want to make a blog about how to begin using cloth.  How to take the "plunge" that so many people fear will be a nightmare of gross dunking and spraying and pinning and leaks!  Let me just start off by saying that NONE of that is true.  Yes, while some people still dunk and spray, it's really not needed.  Pins, a thing of the past (at least for most).  Listed below will be the different types of cloth diapers, washing tips, size tips and overall use guidelines that are EASY for beginners to follow.  I'm going to blog only about the types of diapers I think are easy for beginners to use.  Later I'll add other types of diapers and covers that you can get into after you get used to cloth diapering.

  • Types of Cloth Diapers for Beginners
  • Pocket Diapers
    • Outer layer of waterproof fabric (PUL=Polyurethane laminate)
    • Inner layer of fleece, suedecloth or another material
    • A soaking insert made from microfiber, hemp, bamboo or another material that holds liquids
  • Pros
      • Easy to wash
      • Solids roll off the surface of the inner material
      • Baby feels dry like a disposable
      • Easy to put on with snaps or hook and loop (velcro or aplix)
      • Customize absorbency to fit your child (using more inserts or less)
  • Cons
      • Stuff after wash (not a big deal to me, but some hate it)
      • Sometimes can leak if your baby is a super heavy wetter or you haven't changed often enough
      • PUL is not breathable, which some people don't like (I happen to love PUL)
  • My take
    • I love pocket diapers.  They have always been my favorite style of diaper.  They are easy to use when you go out and about too.  All you do is pre-stuff them and put them in your changing table baskets, diaper bag or wherever you diaper your baby.  Snap on or velcro on and go!  Taking them off is a breeze and you just toss them into the wet bag or diaper pail after dumping off any solids into the potty.  Easy to wash too and always come clean.  This one below has a cool pocket opening.  You can fold down the top of the diaper and just throw it in the wash, no insert to handle because it will come out in the wash!  Cool huh?  Best part is, she's a WAHM and my friend.  If I could buy only one diaper for my baby and re-do my entire stash, I'd buy all of her diapers.  She makes pockets, covers (wool and PUL),  AI2 and fitteds.  We won't touch on AI2 or wool in the beginners post, but I will talk about fitteds a bit.
Heartland Dreams pocket diaper outside.  This particular one is a cotton print over hidden PUL.  Her cotton print outer diapers are awesome because if you notice on the sides where the legs are, there is some PUL showing.  This means that the cotton isn't near the leg area where often times cotton outer pocket diapers will leak from the seams in the leg area.  Her pocket diapers are my new favorite!

Heartland Dreams pocket diaper inside.  The pocket opening is at the belly area and is fully covered so that microfiber or the other insert material won't touch the baby's skin.  The inside of these diapers is suedecloth, a thin polyester material that wicks moisture away from the skin and into the insert.
  • Prefold diapers
    • Cotton, bamboo or hemp "rectangles"
    • Layered material that you fold to fit the baby
    • Pin or Snappi on
    • Covers needed
  • Pros
    • SUPER soakers
    • Natural material
    • Breathable fabric
  • Cons
    • Not as easy to get on
    • Solids don't roll off the diaper as easily (but still are removable with very minimal effort or can use a fleece liner)
    • Need a cover
    • Doesn't wick moisture away from baby's skin
      • Note: There is a "trick" to this con though.  If you cut up poly fleece strips to lay in the diaper, they will allow the moisture to wick the moisture away from the baby's skin, keeping it dry.  
  • My take
    • I love prefolds.  They aren't my #1 "go to" diaper, but I do love them.  They soak up like mad!  You can layer them for night time too.  You can leave them coverless around the house and they are breathable.  This can help air out baby's bum if they have a rash or are prone to getting a rash.  They are also C-H-E-A-P!  For real, you can buy a dozen for about $15-$30, depending on the size and material.  
This is a prefold on a baby.  The top is using a Snappi and the bottom is pins.  You do NOT even have to use pins at all, or really even a snappi if you don't want.  I highly recommend looking at this site if you think you like prefolds because they have great tips on how to fold and use them with covers.  You can lay prefolds into covers and use them like that w/o actually pinning or "Snappi-ing" them to the baby.  Note though that if they are just layed into a cover, they have a tendency to leak poo out the sides if it's a newborn, so a good cover with gussets is needed.  We'll talk about that below.

  • Fitteds
    • Made from cotton, hemp or bamboo
    • Outer diaper "shell" and inner diaper snap in or lay in (or stuff in) flaps to soak
    • Soft and durable
    • Need a cover
  • Pros
    • Easy to put on
    • Breathable
    • Super cute without a cover
    • Soak a TON (depending on the brand)
  • Cons
    • Bulkier than pockets
    • Not as easy for out and about
  • My take
    • Fitteds are my second favorite, next to pocket diapers.  I love how they look without a cover.  The best thing about fitteds is that they NEVER leak.  WHAT?  That's right, NEVER!  I mean, I can put one of these on for probably 3 hours and there are still areas that are dry.  Even on heavy wetters.  Newborn poo stays the best in these and covers over, but even w/o covers I've rarely had any solids leak out.  Breastfeeding mothers know what I'm talking about when I say "blowouts!"  These diapers hold it all in!  Especially fitteds with serged legs.  These really seem bullet proof.  My only issue is that not all fitteds are made the same, so you really need to look into what works best for your baby.  Some are more absorbent, some less, some are more trim, some bulkier; some are made with serged legs, some with turned and topstiched.  These things are a matter of preference and for my kids, serged fitteds with bamboo inner fabrics have worked the best and are the most absorbent.
 This is an EllaBella Bottoms from a Hyena Cart Congo here
The outer is cotton print and the inner is cotton velour.  She doesn't have a picture of the inside, so I'll use a different diaper for this example.

This diaper is another Heartland Dreams and the inner of this is velour (purple cotton) and bamboo fleece.  The natural colored fabric is the fleece and it's inside out so the smooth side is showing.  I love her diapers... have I said that before?  Um... this one I'm pining after so maybe I'll save my pennies for it :)  It's purple paisley, but I keep telling myself that Wes would look so cute in it and it doesn't matter that it's purple :)

This is Wesley in a Weezypie made by my friend Rachel.  She doesn't make them anymore (yet) but they are super cute.  This is a one-size diaper for 8-35lbs or so!  They fit awesome.
  • PUL covers
    • Used to cover up prefolds or fitted diapers
    • Keep clothes dry and solids from leaking
  • Styles
    • Velcro on
    • Pull on
    • Snap on
  • My take
    • My favorite covers so far have been Thirsties brand covers.  I attempted to make some covers, but... failed LOL.  They work but they aren't pretty.  Anyway, the Thirsties have gussets at the inside of the legs to hold in solids.  They clean easily and look cute.  Now they come with snaps and aplix and they have some prints now too.  Some don't like PUL, but I really love it.  Below is going to be a picture of Thirsties so you can see how they work.
Ok, so I couldn't find the best picture of these covers on the inside, but I wanted to share what they look like on.  Here is one on a 3 week old baby with a fitted under.

See the cool little leg gusset?  Just like a disposable right?  This one is a Duo Wrap which is a type of one size.  It's a medium/large cover.  They also sell a x-small-small cover that is the size before this one.  They are nice because you can adjust the rise (up and down on baby's waste) so that it fits the baby better.

"Elaine, wait a minute!  What about washing?"  Great question...  Here is what I do.  You'll find a TON of advice on washing out there, and to each their own, but this is what works for ME and a lot of others I know.

  • Washing Routine
  • Wash every 2 days
  • First rinse with 1/4c vinegar and cold water
  • Run a hot wash with detergent (listed recommendations/recipe below)
  • Run an extra rinse
  • Tumble dry hot or hang to dry outside
  • Detergent
  • Use ONE of the following and stick with what works for you
    • Homemade detergent (22oz Washing Soda, 8oz Oxy Clean *or generic oxygen cleaner* and 8oz baking soda)  Use 2 tablespoons per regular sized load
    • Dreft powder or liquid, use 1/4 of the amount you would use on clothes
    • Method detergent (pump bottle) Use 2 pumps per full load
    • ***PLEASE NOTE***
      • Not all regular detergents are recommended for diaper washing due to residue buildup that will effect the performance of your diapers.  Please use either these guidelines or consult the diaper manufacturer for more recommendations.

The last thing I want to touch on is a term called "one-size".  You might think, wait a second, this is bogus, no one diaper size can fit my baby from birth to potty.  Well, let me tell you, it can!  I make a lot of my own diapers, which I love by the way (I just like to feature WAHM's that sell their diapers instead of pix of mine and I don't really like to "toot my own horn" too much hehe!) and I make mine one-sized.  Granted, some babies are too small at first to use one-size diapers, but most babies (like my big fatties) can fit into them right away.  The inserts in one-size pockets are just smaller for newborns and bigger for toddlers.  Fitted diapers sometimes have a removable soaker flap so you can fold down the remaining one so it's not so bulky for little ones and add more soaker flaps when they are bigger.   If you want to cloth diaper economically and simply, I suggest buying one size pocket diapers and maybe a few prefolds with covers.

If you take one thing away from this post, read this.  If you are new to cloth diapering and want to give it a shot, I suggest starting with a one-size or a sized (meaning small, medium or large) pocket diaper.  Once you get the hang of using those, then branch out to use other styles.  Pocket diapers, IMO, are the easiest form out there for newbies and will introduce you to the fact that cloth diapers aren't hard and they do not suck!  LOL  They are also not as gross as you think and washing them is not as big of a hassle as you may think either.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative Elaine! I love the pics of Wesley as a newb in fluff!