Cloth Diapering 101 (How we wrap & roll)

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cloth diapering

I always had an idea that I would like to give cloth diapering a try on my children, however when I started researching the options available I became overwhelmed quickly. Like any trend or lifestyle, cloth diapering had a language of it’s own! There were pockets and pre-folds, all-in-ones and covers, soakers, wool, microfiber, fleece, and inserts. I had NO clue what was the “best” route to go and everything seemed really expensive to just try out and see what worked. In the end, my son’s early arrival helped us in our decision making process because my mum took it upon herself to get us up and running in the cloth department so we would be ready when Brennan came home from the hospital. From her experience with cloth back in the ’80’s she chose to go with what she was familiar with and got us pre-folds and covers.

Disclaimer: Now that we are a few months into CD (cloth diapering), I do understand that it is a bit of trial and error to see what will work best for you and your baby, however I feel that the pre-folds and covers are a great starting point for anyone that is new to cloth. I also do not know everything about cloth diapering nor do I claim to know what is “right” and “wrong”, I just know what works for us. Now, onto the cloth!

[typography font=”Satisfy” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#381b5e”]Why did we go cloth? A few reasons. [/typography]

1) Money. We were able to buy our cloth diapers 2nd hand which made the cost even more feasible! So far to date we have spent around $85 on diapering our son who is around 20 weeks old now. This total cost only accounts for the cost of the physical diapers, cloth wipes and laundry soap, not the cost of electricity used for laundering things. I did reference this chart though when making the decision to go the cloth route and found it to be very helpful. I suggest checking out Craigslist, local children’s consignment shops, and online diaper swap groups to find used diapers at a good cost. Give them a good wash (We did a Cascade/Bleach soak on ours to strip them of any build-up or nasties. A whole other post for another day!) and you are good to go!

*NOTE* Our 2nd hand diapers came with some staining on them, BUT it didn’t bother us really since after the Cascade/Bleach soak and double wash I was quite confident that there was nothing icky left. We trust B’s butt is in good cloth!

**DOUBLE NOTE** If you live in an area that has a cloth diaper service, sometimes they offer a “Wash my Stash” option. Smarty Pants is our local CD service and I have utilized the “Wash my Stash” option once already when I thought we had a yeast issue! {Turned out to just be regular old contact irritation from a wiggly baby!} Still was amazing to get back SUPER clean diapers! (You can check out Emily’s review of Smarty Pants here.)

2) The environment! We luckily do not live in a dry climate here in Vermont and have the benefit of having enough water resources so washing and drying cloth made more eco-sense to us than buy disposables. Even the “eco-friendly” disposables still take a long time to biodegrade and since they do not have any chemicals in them they are very rough against baby’s delicate skin. We tried a pack right at the beginning and didn’t like how they chaffed B’s legs and bottom.

3) I feel good about putting soft cotton or fleece against B’s bottom. (see chemicals/no chemicals above) It just makes me happy. πŸ™‚
4) A cloth-diaper baby bottom is extra cute! It’s all badonkadonk big and puffy! πŸ™‚ (Thank you Heather for the term badonkadonk!! We use it daily.)

[typography font=”Satisfy” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#381b5e”]So, what’s our cloth diaper drill?[/typography]

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Prefolds[/typography]

Ours came from the Green Mountain Diaper Company (Vermont company!) and look like burp cloths. When you buy them brand new you have to wash them a handful of times over and over to get them to “quilt up” and become absorbent. That is another good reason to buy 2nd hand because they are already pre-quilted and ready to go! πŸ™‚ When I use the pre-folds this is what they look like.

pre-fold
A flat diaper is folded in 3rds and then you can wrap baby’s bum as is or you can make a pocket in the back for the bottom to sit in. I then put a fleece liner on top for added dryness as fleece is hydrophobic and will keep the wet feeling away from baby’s skin. It also helps with messy clean up. πŸ˜‰ The fleece liners are just fleece I bought at the store and cut into strips. I do not use pins or snappis to hold the pre-fold in place. You can, but it is not necessary because I find the cover holds things in place fine.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Covers[/typography]

You then need a cover to wrap around the pre-fold. We’re tried a few different covers and my favorites so far are the Proraps. They are like waterproof pants and I like them over some other covers because they have a double gusset around the leg and a nice gusset on the back to help keep leaks to a minimum. They also velcro shut over your pre-fold, which I find to be easier than remembering what number snap we are on for the right fit, and if they are nor super messy they can be used a few times each day. The only drawback is that you need to re-velrcro them before washing or they can get all stuck together.

prorap_cover
double_gusset

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Pocket Diapers[/typography]

Another diaper option out there that we have a few of are Pocket Diapers. These diapers are a cover and insert all together with a “pocket” for stuffing absorbent layers into. The benefit to these is that they are quick and easy to put on, like a disposable. The drawback is that you have to change everything out when you do a diaper change, which says to me MORE LAUNDRY!

We have a couple FuzziBunz pocket diapers that a friend passed on to us. They are fleece lined with a pocket insert in the back for an absorbent liner. We use the micro terry inserts that come with the FuzziBunz and at night I stuff an extra cotton pre-fold in there to boost absorbency. I like them for overnight use because they are quick to change and keep the wet away from B’s skin. I don’t use them all the time because they are 1) more expensive to buy and 2) I would need at least 8-10 a day or do laundry every day. No thanks! I’ve also found that the lack of a double gusset around the leg leads to the potential of more leaks.

fuzzibunz_snapped
Kelly’s Closet is an amazing website with descriptions on the different style cloth diapers!

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Wipes[/typography]

For wipes we use reusable flannel wipes that we wet with warm water at the sink and then use a spray bottom (on the wipe) that is a mix of  water and  Tushy Tonic. We have also used Witch Hazel and Kissaluvs Diaper Potion in a spray bottle. Tushy Tonic does not smell as strong as it has Myrrh instead of Tea Tree oil in it for antibacterial cleaning. We tried using store wipes for on-the-go but B got an irritation in his diaper area and I think it was the drying-agent in the store wipes that caused it….maybe not…either way we stopped using them. Now when we’re on the go we just throw some paper towel in the diaper bag and use water. But at home we use the flannel wipes and they go right in the diaper pail with everything else to be washed!

flannel_wipe
Initially we had only been using coconut oil on B’s bottom as a barrier cream, however after the rash/irritation/yeast incident, I went in search of something with a little more oomph behind it. Unfortunately most diaper creams are not cloth diaper safe because they have Zinc in them, which can gunk up cloth diapers and reduce absorbency. Some people still use regular creams and just use a disposable insert between the baby and the diaper. I didn’t care to mess with the disposable inserts (more money to spend!) and so I found Angel Baby Bottom Balm. One 60ml jar has lasted us about 40 days or apx. 325 diaper changes. πŸ™‚ The cost is worth it in my opinion!

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Diapering Station[/typography]

Finally, my greatest pride and joy besides my own offspring is my Diapering Station! This dresser was left at our local transfer station in the “Reuse Zone”. I found it when I was around 24 weeks pregnant and had a nice gentleman help me wrestle it into the car. “I don’t think it will fit ma’am.”….”We’ll MAKE it fit!!” {He knew not to argue with a hot, sweaty pregnant lady luckily} A few coats of paint and some new knobs and it looks awesome!

963930_10200958090170256_1313728148_o

We have this in the most popular spot for diaper changes in our home:the dining room. Going up and down to B’s room didn’t make sense. The pre-folds, covers, wipes, and flannel inserts are in the top drawer, extra pre-folds, fuzzibunz, bonus clothing, and socks in the middle drawer, and back-up baby items (Tushy Tonic, Kissaluvs potion, Witch Hazel, pacifiers, bibs, toys, changing mat, back-up diaper “wet bag” etc) are in the bottom drawer. The door to the left has blankets and baby carriers. On top is his changing pad (secured to the dresser for safety!) and a basket that has the wipe spray bottles, lotion, Angel Baby Bottom Balm and other baby cosmetic things we use daily. The grey bin is for the dirty diapers. I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond. It has a “pail liner” in it that I toss all the wipes, covers, prefolds etc into. I have a little shaker of baking soda in the basket that I can sprinkle in the diaper pail if it smells. It really isn’t too bad yet. Right now we are only dealing with breastmilk poops which are super soft, so I don’t even bother with scraping things into the toilet. It all goes in the pail. When B is older and on solid foods hopefully the fleece liner will help with poop disposal as I think I will be able to dump it in the toilet. Perhaps an updated CD post in 3 months is in order!

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Washing Diapers[/typography]

I wash diapers about every 3rd day. Our system is a work in progress, but what I am finding works for us right now is to do the following.

-Dump the whole pail liner (with the liner!) into the wash and do a warm pre-rinse with no detergent.

-Follow this with a long Hot Wash/Cold Rinse with Tide Ultra powder detergent. (We were using 7th Generation Free & Clear liquid detergent and found it kept leaving soap residue.)

-Finish up with a final Cold/Cold short cycle to make sure your diapers are good and rinsed.

-We hang our covers to dry and toss everything else into the dryer on HOT.

If you are browsing CD blogs and forums, this is a great website for “Diaper Terms and CD language.

There you have it. Our cloth diapering routine! WOW! That is a lot of info to absorb. πŸ™‚ If you have any questions for me about cloth diapering, post them in the comments section below and I will answer them to the best of my ability. No promises though! We’re still new at this too. πŸ™‚ Happy diapering!

cloth_diaper_vermont_photographer
Happily clothed!
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I am a profesional photographer that specializes in photographing people with an emphasis on family relationships; maternity, birth, newborn, child, and family. You can see some of my work at www.north-photo.com. While my weekdays are busy with portraits, my weekends are nearly full through the Spring, Summer, Fall and early Winter with weddings. I love my career! On October 7, 2013 I took on a new position in life: Mama! Our sweet son surprised us 6 weeks early and has shown us that one of the biggest life changes can be one of the best life changes! The good, the bad, the smelly, the sweet...My husband and I would not trade any of it!

8 COMMENTS

    • the green life store in Burlington located on cherry street and diapers and inserts!!! also the second hand kids/maternity store called twinkling’s has some as well

  1. Everything you’ve said is very similar to ours- including the wash cycle. It’s so hard to find two people that will agree on a process. I just kept changing it up until I found a way that seems to be the quickest and require the least amount of cycles. We use GDiapers with Green Mountain Prefolds and wash every 3-4 days, although we have enough to go 10 or so πŸ™‚ With #2 on the way I just can’t imagine paying for two in diapers so I’m excited to pull out our smaller sizes and start again for free as they’ve definitely paid for themselves already!

    • I was so sad to put away our newborn diapers, but then i thought about how excited I would be to take them out again for a future baby! YAY FOR FREE DIAPERS! πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m due with our second at the end of april/beginning of may and I’ve decided since I am at SAHM I have no excuse not to TRY cloth diapering due to the fact that I am the one that will primarily have to deal with them and since I’m home I have time to hopefully figure it out and find what works for us. However since I have no idea what I’m doing, I want to be able to attempt this without spending too much in start up just incase it’s not for us. I’ve read your post a couple times and I guess I’m still unsure of where to start and how many of what I need to last us a few days without having to do laundry EVERY day. Every time I walk into the cloth diaper aisles I get a little over whelmed and thats probably why I stayed away with my first. I like the idea of the ones that seem to “grow” with them so you’re not constantly buying different sizes. I’ve ready other articles on how to start but I feel like I need a full proof list of what to buy. It’s probably not as scary as it seems to start but I feel I need more direction on this as no one I know really does it and since the older generation in my family has been out of the loop with it and aren’t up to date with some of the easier methods, they don’t have much advise….. I may just be overlooking everything and just need to dive in head first.

    • Hi Kari!

      Here is a link to Green Mountain Diapers suggestion on getting started with brande new cloth diapers: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/newmom.html

      In my experience, I recommend having around 24 diapers on hand. (This means 24 pre-fold (flat) diapers and maybe 10 waterproof covers). The pre-fold gets changed at each diaper change and the cover only needs changing if it is wet or soiled. With apx. 8-10 diaper changes a day, 24 diapers will have you doing diaper laundry apx. every 3rd day. This is perfect to avoid any stink issues or mold growing.

      Just like disposable diapers you need to have the right size cloth diaper for your little one. You may find the “grow with them” sizes fit your baby well or that they don’t. It all depends on how your baby is built! πŸ™‚

      I recommend checking Craigslist for a used batch of diapers. You can usually get things for a good price, especially if you are interested in just giving it a try!

      Sometimes diving in is the best method. πŸ™‚

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