Apr 26, 2011

The Cloth Diaper Post

Lots of people have asked me how cloth diapers are going for us. 
Without further ado, I present you with:
The Cloth Diaper Post
 (Thirsties Duo Wrap Pocket - Easter morning!)

I was four months pregnant when we decided that we would use cloth diapers.  (I've since learned that 'cloth diaper' can also be used as a verb, so I could have written, I was four months pregnant when we decided to cloth diaper our child.')  Interesting, right?  There's more.  After all kinds of crazy research, bumGenius' Elemental All in One (AIO) One Size (OS) seemed to be the best fit for us.  There weren't lots of parts to deal with, they came in super cute colors, and they would fit him from birth until he didn't need them anymore. To start with, I only ordered six.  I wanted enough to try but not too many that if they didn't work, we weren't out too much money. 

When Oliver was born I was SO excited to use our diapers.  They were really big, but I decided it was because he was small (he was 6lbs 10oz when we came home) and bumGenius claimed they would fit most babies between 7 and 35lbs.  I tried them on him once a week to see if they'd fit and finally when he was a little more than 10lbs, they seemed to fit - only they gaped at the leg and well, poop didn't always stay inside the diaper.  At 25 bucks a pop I was quite disappointed.  I read more and more about cloth diapers and know what?  I didn't know squat.
(bumGenius Pocket)

What I learned from the new world of cloth was that the one size diapers don't really fit until babies are at least 12lbs.  Now that Oliver is about 13lbs, they do fit him much better, but they're still the last diapers I grab and because I've accumulated quite a stash, I've not used them in a couple weeks.  But back to the story...

A couple friends had mentioned Jillian's Drawers.  Jillian's has a program where you can try cloth for $10.  The deal is, you pay $165 up front and they send you around a dozen different types of [new] cloth diapers (the most popular ones).  If you don't like them, hate them, changed your mind about wanting to use cloth, or whatever - you send them back after three weeks (21 days!) and they refund you all but your ten bones.  I did it.  I didn't even have to convince Chandler.  He was game.  He'll do anything for his tiny boy's tush.

I was probably too excited than what should be considered 'normal' for something like this and found that we had a diaper retailer somewhat close to us.  SCORE!  Since I was only familiar with the AIOs, I decided I should check out some other diapers before ours came and I was lost.  I called Diaper Junction and they said we could come to their office/warehouse.  Chan and I decided we would get a couple diapers and set aside some cash for shopping. When we got there, the owner came out and talked to us about the different diapers and pros/cons of them.  I told her I'd ordered the Jillian's trial and that I wanted to buy a couple diapers but she recommended we wait on buying anything since I didn't know what I liked yet.  It was the equivalent of a child finding out that they were going to FAO Schwartz but that they couldn't pick out a toy.  I felt silly for not taking her advice and still made a purchase.  We left with a Flip pack (two shells and liners) and one bumGenius 4.0 (pocket style).

Oh how right she was.  The bumGenius is just not my favorite diaper - at all.  And the Flip?  I kinda hate it.  It's probably great for bigger kids who made solid waste, but definitely not the best choice for a tiny baby.  Lesson learned.

Our Jillian's order arrived the next day and I eagerly read every single word on the diaper packaging.  Seriously - way too excited!  I washed, prepped and used each diaper and found exactly what I liked and didn't like.  I think it's great they give you 21 days, but I didn't need that at all.  In fact, we mailed our diapers back over a week early because we stopped using them after just a couple washes.
(FuzziBunz OS)

Before I spill our favorites - some cloth diaper lingo:
-AIO: All in one - the inside and outside of the diaper are connected and there's no prep to put it together, baby poops, you toss the entire diaper into the wash and voila.

-Pocket: These diapers have a soft layer that is sewn to the outer waterproof part and there is a slit at one or both ends where you stuff a thicker insert into it to make it absorbent.  When the diaper is dirty, you shake the insert out and then wash both parts (you can't wash it with the insert still inside).

-Prefold/Flats: Your mama's cloth diapers.  These are the old school diapers that most of us use as burp cloths or rags these days.  You can fold them as a trifold or like a kite and use a Snappi, pins, or nothing to keep them in place.  Some people also use them to add extra to the pocket diapers.  They require a waterproof cover.

-Snappi: Before having one, I couldn't figure out what this thing was.  Diaper Junction showed it to me and had they not, I would have been totally lost.  It's like an ace bandage teethy thing that has three ends so you can secure a prefold on the hips and crotch (I hate that word) of your baby.

-OS: One size.  Ideally, this diaper should fit babies from birth to potty training.  What I learned from the cloth diaper world that isn't so secret but that I couldn't find before I needed it is that one size diapers are not really one size unless your baby is ginormous - and in that case, let me know and I'll say a special prayer for you because oh my ouch!

-Fitted: This style of diaper is just soft, there's no waterproof outer layer so you have to use a cover.

-Hook and Loop: Velcro.  I guess 'hook' and 'loop' refer to the tiny pieces on the Velcro and because 'Velcro' is a brand they can't use that term?  Go figure.  Another term for hook and loop is aplix.

-AI2: All in two diapers are two parts, an outer shell and an inside that either attaches to the shell or just lays inside.  There's no pocket to stuff so it takes much less time to put together. 

-Hybrid: These diapers are often the same as AI2 but you can often use different liners, fabric or disposable/flushable.

The diapers we tried were:
-2 bumGenius 4.0
-Thirsties Duo Wrap Pocket
-Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted
-Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
-Fuzzibunz OS
-2 types of prefolds (2 of each) and a Snappi

(FuzziBunz OS)
Our experience/my thoughts...

-The Smartipants looked too big on Oliver.  They fit great around the legs and waist and never leaked, but had a lot of extra fabric due to the limited adjustablility.  I loved that the pocket was open on both sides and it was easy to stuff.  I would have kept this one for nighttime use but the color they sent was periwinkle and it was a little too feminine for my guy.

-bumGenius just isn't my favorite.  I hear it's the 'cream of the crop' in cloth, but it just doesn't float my boat.  I'm getting fancy with my words - I hope you are still with me here... With the 4.0 there are two options on the front closure, 'hook at loop' and snaps.  We tried one of each and I didn't really care for them.  I love the diaper alone, but it's very bulky under clothes and I would only put this diaper on him when we were at home.  Never had a leak and it fit much, much better around the leg than the AIO Elementals that I have.

-Thirsties Duo Wrap Pocket - I love this diaper!  It's really compact, adjustable AND has an extra gusset in the leg to prevent leaks.  For the record, when I reference leaks in this post, it's about poop.  If you didn't breastfeed or don't know, breastfed babies have a gooey/liquidy poop.  Urine is absorbed into the liner so the only way urine would leak is if the diaper was so soaked that it was sponging out of the sides.

-Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted - I used this diaper twice.  Once alone while we were at home so I'd be able to change him as soon as it was dirty and once with the cover mentioned above.  With the cover it was too bulky and without the cover, I didn't see why I'd use it.

-Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover/Prefolds are not my favorite. I only used the prefolds a couple of times. Even with the Snappi, they didn't really stay in place. I don't mind them, but I prefer a better, easier to use combination. I use the prefolds alone more than I use them with the cover to help air out his bottom.

-FuzziBunz were by far the favorite!  They are trim, have fleece inside, and fit great around the legs.  They also have more places to adjust - which could be a con, but I think it makes for a better fit.  The elastic in the legs can be adjusted and there's also an adjustable elastic in the waist to adjust in addition to the outer snaps on the front.  I found that the waist was fine and I just snap the diaper as tight as it will snap since it's easier to adjust the snaps than the back elastic for later.  So for us, we use a 1 on the waist (the way they come), a 3 on all the leg elastics (four places) and I snap the tightest top waist and use the 3rd snap around the leg.  Confusing?  It's not as bad as it sounds.

I did have some trouble with three of my FuzziBunz.  The PUL (polyurethane liner) that lines the inside of the diaper that makes it waterproof was so sticky it was difficult to get my inserts inside.  I figured out that it was the ones made in Turkey and the ones made in China were smooth.  I contacted the company and they were aware of the problem.  There was rumor that they were going to pull out of Turkey but after speaking with them I learned that they felt Turkey's textiles to be superior and it was not the case at all.  They were aware of problems and offered to replace my diapers.  I have since ordered more diapers that were also from Turkey after not finding anymore from China and they don't have the problem so I am guessing it was just a bad lot.  I'm still pleased with this diaper and it's still one of my favorites.

(Note: FuzziBunz come in two types, OS and sized.  I have both - I bought a few sized b/c I read that they fit trim and so I got some smalls.  This was not the case for us and they are much more bulky than the OS - go figure.  The crotch area is much wider in the sized variety and because of the bulk, I only use them at night.  I would never buy sized ones again.)

-GroVia's are different.  I like the snap-in shell, and the design on the sides to keep spills in, but for some reason I don't grab this diaper very often.  I love the extra grippy velcro (that's right, Velcro is a general term for me so even though it's not technically Velcro - it pretty much is - even though the stuff GroVia uses is really cool and of all the diapers, this is the least like Velcro).  This diaper is much trimmer than the bG or Smartipants and it's also a OS so you can use it for many months (years?).

Want to know what I kept?  All four prefolds, the Snappi, Thirsties Duo Pocket and the cover, FuzziBunz, and GroVia.  I sent back the Thirsties Fitted and now I wish I'd kept it.  I'm not crushed because its color was mango and we've recently established that orange is not the best look for Oliver.  I wish I had it because now I realize that the fitteds are great for airing out the bottom while still catching anything that might come out during that air-out process. 

Because I tend to go all out when I like something, my diaper stash now includes:
-20 FuzziBunz (16 OS and 4 Smalls)
-10 Thirsties Duo Wrap Pocket
-6 bumGenius Elemental AIO
-2 Flip
-1 GroVia
-1 bumGenius 4.0 Snap
-1 Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
-1 GroVia diaper pail liner
-1 GroVia wet bag (travel/diaper bag)

I change Oliver as soon as he wets (or poops) so he still goes through around 15 diapers/day.  Therefore, I wash mostly every day.  With so many diapers, I don't have to wash daily, but I do.  It's nice because I have enough diapers that I don't have to panic if there's no time to stuff them all after they're clean.

And speaking of clean - let's take a quick minute to chat about washing.  I used All Free & Clear because I read in several places that it was better than some detergents.  I also read a lot of 'if you use commercial soap' followed by how much to use.  Well - WRONG.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Oliver started to get a bit rashy while in cloth, which I found interesting since cloth bottoms don't usually get a rash.  Immediately though, I knew it was the detergent.  I talked to Diaper Junction (they rock by the way and if you cloth diaper (see how I used it as a verb there?  hahaha), you must check them out) and they suggested it may be detergent build up.  I washed my diapers three times on hot water with no detergent, then used Country Save.  Problem solved.  We've not had any issues so far (other than just acidic poop and it's obvious when that's the problem). 

(While he had his rash, I made two sided wipes (flannel on one side, fleece on the other) and used water with just a tiny bit of Aveeno Baby Wash to wipe his bottom.)
We have HE machines and this is our routine:
-Cold Rinse and Spin: 18 minutes; no soap
-Hot Wash/Cold Rinse with Extra Rinse and Water Boost: 1 hour 22 minutes; 1/16 cup Country Save

(One $12 box of Country Save will last you more than 150 loads of cloth diaper washes!)

I toss the liners in the dryer on low heat and hang the diaper itself.  If I need more diapers I toss them in the dryer, but I try to let them hang dry as much as possible.  Because Oliver is exclusively breastfed, his poop is water soluble.  When we have dirty diapers, I shake the insert out into the pail (Why do cloth diaper people call it a pail?  Our 'pail' is a simple 8 gallon plastic trash can that we'll change up once we move to solid foods and have more smell), then drop the diaper itself in too.  The 'pail' is lined with a wet bag with a cinch cord (that I never use b/c I wash them every day).  I just toss them all (along with the bag) into the washer without rinsing and wash away.  I do a tub clean for the washer every week just to prevent any yuck and we also clean the filter twice/month and so far we haven't had any problems.

I haven't had much trouble with stains; the few times I have had them I placed my inserts outside in the sun and in about an hour they were bleached and stain free.  It's magical.  I've since started putting any poop stained onesies out there too!

Remember how I said I was really excited to use our cloth diapers on Oliver and then he was too small for them?  Well, then I got used to disposables and after using them for several weeks I was REALLY nervous about making the switch to cloth.  So nervous that I decided I would only use cloth part time because it was going to be a lot of work.  And he looked cute in his Pampers.  And I liked that they had the yellow stripe that turned green when they were wet.  BUT - now that I have cloth diapers I like and that work, I LOVE them.  I love that when I change Oliver his skin is flawless.  When he wears Pampers, he has red marks all over him.  They go away, sure.  But why are they there in the first place???  He doesn't have them at all with cloth.  Hmm. 

That said, I hate that cloth is bulky. However, FuzziBunz are much trimmer than most diapers and Thirsties are even trimmer than our FuzziBunz.  Every now and then I'll use Pampers so we can wear an outfit that might be on it's last wear before it's time to pack it up.  Overall, I'm really pleased with cloth.  I'd say that we use cloth more than 90% of the time.  If we're going to be out and about much of the day (especially now that it's getting warmer) I use Pampers and when we travel I use Pampers just because I don't want to dirty up someone else's washing machine.

Now I'm anxious about when he transitions to solids and I have to spray out his diapers before washing (yuck!).  There is definitely a diaper sprayer in my future.  And some diaper liners!  (You can use these thin liner things over the inside of the diaper and just toss that with the solid poop into the toilet to flush away - it's supposed to mean that you spray the diaper out less).

Wow - this might be the longest post yet - and it's about poop. 

I have a diaper rash recipe that I was planning to share, but for the sake of being able to find it, I'll post that separately.  Because you can't use regular diaper rash cream with cloth, if we do have any sort of rash, I let Oliver dangle (aka go diaper free) for as long as I can and put him on a soft waterproof mat with a prefold draped over him and then use my special creme with a Pampers for a few hours.  That usually does the trick.  When we do have to use Pampers, I always coat his bottom with squirt Vaseline or A&D (usually Target's Up&Up brand b/c it's softer and cheaper) as rash prevention.  Normally it does the trick unless it's an acidic poop and then I use the special stuff.

Bottom line:
-I love cloth.  I love it for many reasons I didn't even mention due to the length of this post already!
-If you're at all considering it, find a company that offers a trial program like Jillian's Drawers or Diaper Junction.

If you've made it this far you should comment so I know you're my bestest friend!  And if you want to read more, check out my friend Hope's blog about her experience/take on cloth....and see her cute baby!

Cloth diapers one year later - check out how our experience has changed, what works, what doesn't, etc... now that Oliver is ONE!


Jill Foley said...

I got about 1/3 of the way through before I stopped reading and just looked at pictures. I'd probably take more time to read if I was having another baby, but I'm not! : )

Brittany said...

Woh girl... that's a lot of diaper talk, and I admit I'm completely overwhelmed! ha! I'm still so on the fence. It sounds like such a commitment, but I love the idea of cloth diapering. Thanks for the encouragement and run down!

brittanydailwest said...

geez....so i already know i am your bestest friend but i just couldn't STOP reading...dont know how anyone could...very interesting stuff! and you make it sound sooo easy! *IF* i ever decide to have kids, I would totally think about cloth diapering

GinH said...

Jill - I laughed out loud at your honesty!!! :)

Britt and Britt - I actually enjoy diaper laundry. I keep thinking, this is going to get old, but so far it's still fun. I may just be a total weirdo though ;)

Mommy S said...

wow. very informative, and I read it all. I strongly considered cloth diapering but have, at least for now, decided not to. I commend you on your decision and sticking to it. It really does sound complicated. Ollie is so cute in them though :)

Now, tell me more about the sun-bleaching-poop-stain-remover-magic!

Brianne said...

Of course I read it all...had to check your facts! JK ;) It's so funny how the same cloth diaper can be loved for one baby, and hated for another. All babies just aren't created equal...you love your FBs, Hope loves her BGs, and I'm old-school with my prefolds & covers. Glad you figured out the detergent rash. Sore baby bums are no fun! As for the bulkiness, it won't seem so bad as he gets bigger (I know, I know, I shouldn't mention him getting bigger...) Glad you're having success with them!!!

Anonymous said...

Amazingly I made it through all of that like it was just a normal post. LOL! I love the product reviews, thank you for that - it's much needed!

GinH said...

Suzanne - breadfed poop is magical and the sun bleaches it perfectly!

Brianne - ha! :) I wish you'd blog too so I could send that link to others who ask!

Jess - I would normally call you a nerd, but we're one in the same so... :P

honest company reviews said...

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"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
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