Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cloth Diapering

A few years ago I heard of someone using cloth diapers and I'll sheepishly admit my first thought was somewhere right along the lines of: I would try them probably, oh, uh, never? In fact, I wondered why anyone would even want to with the convenience of disposables on the shelves of super centers everywhere. Yet, in the next breath- it sparked an interest. Especially when I witnessed a mom actually using them on her baby. It looked simple enough. And, so what usually happens when I have even the slightest interest in something- I just need to know more.

So, I began to research them while Hannah was a baby and my slight pebble of an interest began to snowball. The options, I discovered, were nearly endless when it came to cloth diapers. After months (seriously, yes, months) of research I knew I wanted to try them out and knew exactly which ones I'd purchase, but I couldn't really justify it as Hannah was already a year old by that time. Fast forward a few months to early last summer when I discovered I was again expecting and that interest was reopened.

Knowing I'd probably have to deal with some questions, some curious looks, and interesting remarks, I made the decision to cloth diaper this baby. This was, after all, my decision and I really wanted to try it out. So, I ordered them last summer to do a 'trial run' with Hannah. I decided to go with a one size pocket diaper (the brand I use is Fuzzi Bunz). These diapers have a fleece lining, a waterproof shell made of PUL and (yep, you guessed) a pocket in which a microfiber insert is stuffed into. And, they are adjustable which means they fit her from 3 weeks old and will fit her until she's out of diapers.

Well. My first experiences were rough. I used the wrong detergent (which resulted in build-up on the diapers), I used too much detergent, I didn't use any type of softener for our extremely hard water, and basically I became quite frustrated. The diapers were losing their absorbency, they had an odd smell to them, and I was annoyed at myself for jumping in feet first without doing enough research on how to properly care for the things. I kept using them sporadically- never quite able to get into a great routine with them for Hannah- until I finally put them away for a bit and came to the conclusion that I had some more learning to do.
So, after some more research, I learned how to 'strip' the diapers (kind of a whole other story- one I'll share if you're interested) and when Adalie was three weeks old I jumped back into using cloth- this time with a lot more knowledge on proper care. In addition to the fuzzi bunz, I added a couple of "Flip" diapers to my stash as well. I've been using both ever since. And I can honestly say once I got into a routine- they are so easy. I feel good using them on her because they are so soft (and chemical free) against her skin, I'm excited about the fact that I don't have to purchase diapers for her weekly, and I must admit: they're cute. {Yes, there are chaper options for cloth diapers than the ones I chose- but in the long run we'll still save a lot money by the time this baby is out of diapers!}

So what does cloth diapering involve? Well, for us it's simple. Every other day I wash the diapers and hang them out in the sun to dry (in the winter I hang them up indoors). After they're dry I stuff the inserts in the diapers and stash them in a drawer so they're ready for immediate use. At that point it's no different than disposables: they're ready use and ready to take along anywhere. The diapers we use all have snaps so there's no diaper pins to worry about. (Like I said, there are a lot of options out there- this is just the one that works best for us.)

Anyways. After the diaper is used, I simply shake the insert out of the pocket and drop both the diaper and the inert into the lined diaper pail (I made a waterproof bag out of PUL to help contain odors). It's not even necessary to rinse the diapers before they're tossed in the pail at this point as my baby is still mainly breastfed. In a few months when she's on solid foods they will need to be rinsed. Right now- sometimes I spray them off, sometimes I don't. It doesn't really matter. On wash day, I carry the bag of diapers to the washing machine, dump the diapers in as well as the bag they've been in, and set the washer going. It's that easy. (For the flip diapers it's basically the same with a few variations- they are not a pocket diaper. I like them both for different reasons- but this is getting lengthy, so I won't go into detail unless someone wants to know more.)

Cloth diapers are not for everyone, I'm sure of that. And if that is you, thanks for reading, and I completely respect that- I'm certainly not trying to push my ideas on anyone! But, I just thought I'd shed a tiny bit of light on them for those of you who might be interested but not really sure where to start or what they involve. There are some great sites online that go into much better detail about diapers than I have here. If anyone has any questions, I'd be glad to answer if I can!

Also, for more information here are some websites I find useful: - This website offers free shipping all the time no matter what size order you have. I have ordered from here and the shipping is fast. - this link provides some interesing information on costs of laundering cloth diapers -provides info on fuzzibunz diapers and lists retailers

ETA: Recenty I purchased some bumgenius 3.0 diapers from during their "seconds" sale. Not only was the price really decent, I would have never known these were "seconds". There's no tell-tale mstakes or anything like that. After using the bumgenius 3.0s, I'm hooked. I love these diapers!


Sharyn said...

Awesome! I have a friend down here who runs a cloth diaper business. She shared this article a bit ago: Which 1. made me glad I didn't read it b4 my kids were out of diapers and 2. made me pretty sure I'd use cloth if we are ever blessed with another. Way to go!

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing the article- I just read it. Very interesting!

Cami said...

I LOVE my cloth diapers! I started using them occassionally with dominik but same as you, didn't use the right detergent and used to much which caused lots of build up. Anyways...we jumped in 100% with cloth when Kaelyn was 2 weeks old and have been using them on both kids ever since. I love that they are chemical free, they are soft, they don't cause diaper rash, they are environmentally friendly, super easy to use, and the biggest reason is the huge savings we've had over this past year from not having to buy diapers for two kids. I LOVE THEM! Way to go on switching to cloth!

Sarah said...

Cami, I remember asking you some questions via your blog last spring when I was deciding to make the switch- so, thanks!! I'm so glad I switched to cloth- I only wish I had done it with the first kids!

Pietila Family said...

Hi Sarah - I know who you are but don't really "know" you...I am your sister Kathy's niece...I've come across your blog a number of times and I love your writing style. Really. You're a wonderful writer. I figured it's time to stop lurking and say hi. : ) I too use cloth diapers and love them. We've used them for all three of our girls and they've saved so much money. They do have a bit of a learning curve, but are really very easy once you get your routine down. We use prefolds with a snappi with Thirsties or Motherease covers for home. For out and about we use bumGenius 3.0 Pocket diapers. Love them! It's so neat to see other moms using cloth diapers. They are NOT what they used to be!

Also - congrats on your graduation from nursing school!
~ Trisha P.

Sarah said...

Hi, Trisha, nice to hear from you! I know who you are- we also have another connection in your sister-in-law, Kara who is also my sister-in-law. But I'm sure you realize that. : )

It's just exactly as you said: it's neat to know other moms using cloth diapers!

And, thanks for the congrats!

Anna said...

Oooh. You guys have got me thinking again...I seriously considered using cloth back when I was expecting Oliver (Trisha put the bug in my ear...she was expecting her first then too!) But with going to school while having the first two, it just never seemed like the right time to add 'one more thing..' Hmm, this time, however... I'd love to read more posts about your experiences/advice, Sarah!

Megan Lorraine said...

I probably have had the same senitiment when Dan and Heidi tried cloth on Amie, thinking are they nuts!? I still am on the fence about cloth. It interests me, as a few moms I know are using them, and I've yet to hear a bad thing about them. I would be interested in trying it, but Aaron has none at all. He says he probably wouldn't change any diapers if we switch to cloth.... And I wonder would it be all that great when my dispoasbles work pretty good and are so convienient at night, or the big messes? I hesitate when it comes to that. BUT, it does spark my curiosity..... :) Were you able to try them any way before you jumped in with both feet, and spent all the money to get started?

Sarah said...

Anna, I think you should go for it!! Go to the link Sharyn posted above for some more convincing. : ) Anything you want to know specifically?

Megan, Ryan was pretty resistant to changing cloth diapers at first. However, he does change them now without complaints. The actual changing is really no different. No matter how you look at it: a dirty diaper is a dirty diaper. As far as nights go- the Flip diaper covers I have are excellent for Adalie's long stretches. She never has leaks with them. And once my kids are through the newborn stage and sleeping through the night there's no middle-of-the-night changes to deal with. And during the newborn stage whether they are in disposable or cloth they still need to be changed.

But, yeah, it's a commitment, ideed! It just becomes a fact of life that the diapers need to be washed every other day or- oops!- you won't have any diapers for the baby and they will not smell too pleasant if they're left too long. But the washing has become such a habbit I don't really think about it anymore.

To answer your question: I did not try any out before I bought the first ones. I just read enough good things online about them and knew I wanted to use them. I also promised myself before I made the purchase that whether I loved them or hated them, I would use them for as long as it would take to eaqual the cost of purchasing disposable diapers (does that make sense?) When you look at it that way it doesn't really take too long to realize the savings- and luckilly I discoved I love them! : )

Pietila Family said...

Sarah - And also, if I remember correct, my hubby took your wedding pictures. : ) Speaking of my husband, he is all for using cloth diapers and actually ended up convincing three of his vet school classmates to use cloth diapers! Kind of funny how one can get so excited over diapers - but I do. I guess the fact that you literally save thousands of dollars is a big part of it. Not to mention I've have very rarely had a poo blowout with my cloth diapers. Plus, they are so darn cute. But like you said, cloth diapering is certainly not for everyone.

BTW - as crafty as you are, I bet you could sew up some darling fitted diapers... : )

Anonymous said...

ok sarah, I wish I would've read this before I saw you Saturday. I have lots of questions like what kind of detergent and what kind of liner in the diaper pail if I'm not crafty.

Sarah said...

Jane, after we talked I was thinking maybe you want to direct some questions to Trisha and Cami (if they check back to this at all) and maybe they would have some more advice for you on other kinds of cloth diapers too.

Cami said...

I've been checking back here to see what people think about cloth diapers! I'm obsessed (sp?) with them. lol. and it's fun to see who else is thinking of using them...i got so much help from my SIL when deciding to switch to cloth, it helps to learn from other people.

Sarah said...

Cami, the longer I use them, the more excited I get about them. I think I can classify myself as a bit obsessed as well! : )

Jane, also, I wanted to add- I think a lot of people like the Bumgenius 3.0 and at right now they are buy five, get one free.

Pietila Family said...

For those interested: is an awesome cloth diaper site. The mom, Mandi, who owns it used to live in East Lansing and sell cloth diapers out of her home. She gave a little cloth diaper talk at the Greenhouse Birth Center and totally convinced us to use them. She is so friendly and helpful with any cloth diaper questions. She also has a "Try Cloth Diapers for $10" program for anyone who just wants to do a test trial. And Jane - she also sells diaper pail liners and wetbags(for the diaper bag) which work awesome. To be honest, I have done a ton of research on cloth diapers and while I'm not an expert, I'd be happy to share what I've learned if anyone has questions or I might be able to point them in the right direction... Feel free to email me at trishapietila at yahoo dot com.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out what to do to get started for as little money as possible (I did NOT tell my husband a word about this though :)) Keep giving me tips. I might e-mail you Trisha. Thanks!

Pietila Family said...

Jane - You can cloth diaper for very little money. Email me and I'll help you out getting started. The one thing I will emphasize is - buy GOOD quality diapers. There are lot of really good brands out there and a lot of really cheap, junky brands. And if you're looking to stick with it, having good cloth diapers/covers make all the difference! : )

Heather from Post Road Vintage said...

I do clothies too. Though I will admit I am struggling as of late. I need to find a better solution for my hefty peeing two year old. (leaks at night and naptime)
But I am DETERMINED (much to hubbies dismay) lol. He always/usually jumps on board with my crazy ideas so I usually just go for it and get approval later (for those wondering how hubby/spouse will deal with it)

So anyways.. I am researching what will REALLY hold the pee for night. (i have bumgenius 3.0 for day) If anyone has ideas give a holler..

Heather Anderson