Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cloth Diapering - The First Chapter

So who wants to talk about some diapers?! :) 

I don't really remember when or why I decided to cloth diaper. I knew that my mom had done that with us a little bit but cloth diapering way back in the 80's was all about those thick, white cloths that turned into great house rags and sharp pins for closing. I know that I read a few articles and blogs about cloth diapering and it just seemed like a great way to save money and save some world from some trash.  I have to admit that the #1 reason that I got on board with cloth diapering was the idea that our monthly baby budget would be less if we weren't throwing that money away with disposable diapers. The fact that our baby would be exposed to fewer chemicals by using cloth was also a big plus. I was sold with one little minor detail just kind of hanging out there.

I had little, ok, NO  experience with regular diapers or baby's diaper habits.

Cloth sounded amazing to me but I got a lot of raised eyebrows when I first announced that I wanted to go that route. Mostly from people who probably had a whole more experience with babies and what babies do in those diapers then I did. I can be a stubborn girl and I had done a lot of research and was convinced that I knew what I was talking about and was forging ahead, cloth diapers in hand.

I accumulated our whole cloth diaper stash before Lucy was born. I knew that BumGenius and Fuzzibunz diapers were two of the most popular brands and they make up the bulk of what we use. There are systems out there that allow you to try a variety of brands to find what works for you. I lucked out that what I have has worked out really well for us so far.

Just a couple of the diapers in our cloth diaper stash. 

In the beginning I realized very quickly that there were many things that I thought I had done enough research about but was left stunned and grasping to get a handle on. Babies are tricky little things. Big mysteries wrapped up in big gummy smiles and squishy skin. I wasn't planning on doing the cloth diapers until she was about 2-3 months old just to get a grip on things before throwing a new curve ball.  It is kind of funny to me now that I thought you got a grip and things just sail along at a certain point in a baby's life. Ha, yea right. Anyways....

I started to cloth diaper around 3 months and it was going well. But that only lasted a couple weeks before we hit some major sleep issues and I was my own version of a bad zombie movie and the idea of adding any additional work, like washing cloth diapers, seemed incredibly difficult. So the cloth diapers went back on the shelf for a little while. 

I decided to get back on the cloth diaper bandwagon after the holidays (didn't plan to do cloth while we were traveling) and was a little scared that it wasn't going to work out like I originally hoped. I had taken a stab at it once and knew I had boldly proclaimed I was going to do this long before I had become a full fledged mom and didn't want to have to eat my words. 

When I jumped back in and started using the cloth again I was surprised that it really wasn't that bad and didn't seem like such a burden. Things were going pretty well and I knew that the timing was right and it was going to stick this time. We have been sticking with cloth diapers since then and it really has been much easier then I think I ever really thought it would be. We are getting into solids now which will bring on some new challenges (breastfed babies don't really have *terrible* diapers) but I'm arming myself and ready to keep up with what we have started. 

Now on to the real details about what we are doing and what is working. 

Like I mentioned before I read a number of blogs in preparing to cloth diaper. Some of the blogs that were really helpful to me were My Life in Transition, Oh! Apostrophe and Elefantitas Alegres. Great resources, these ladies know what they are doing and were a HUGE help in the information process for me. 

We have about 24 diapers, most of which are the BumGenius one size brand with snaps. I had heard that the snaps do better with washing then the velcro.  I really like the BumGenius brand the best. It has a great fit and we haven't had leak trouble. We had a lot of blow outs back when we were using disposable diapers but amazingly it has not been an issue when we switched over to cloth.

I do keep disposable diapers around for when we are out and when we are traveling away from home. It is funny how once we got back into the swing of things with cloth I really don't even like to use disposable ('sposies) anymore. The only exception to this is at night. Sleep is sacred and I don't want her sleep (or mine) sabotaged because of a wet diaper. At night we use Huggies Overnight Diapers which have been great. So one disposable diaper a day and a box lasts us about 3 months. Not too shabby.

Now on to the dirty details. Along with doing cloth diapers I decided to also do cloth wipes so I wasn't tossing wipes into the laundry basket. I know this might sound really gross to some people but it is surprisingly not that bad. I mean baby diapers aren't exactly a party no matter what method you go with but this isn't shouldn't be something you fear if you go the cloth diaper route.

I have a stash of fleece wipes that I use. It was a fleece blanket that was cut with pinking shears so it doesn't fray and I use those as the basis of my wipes. I have an empty disposable wipe box that I put stack of cloth wipes in and then I add some baby shampoo, some apricot oil and a bit of water to make up my wipe solution. I go the Rachael Ray way and just eyeball the amounts so that it soaks the wipes enough.

When a diaper is soiled I take it and separate the pocket liner from the diaper before putting it in the laundry bag (aka a trash can with a special laundry bag in it).  I use a dry wipe if the diaper is especially funky and then I have no contact with the funkiness. Since it all gets washed you can get liberal with the wipes for things because it is going to be washed and re-used. No point in being stingy here! 

I use a pre-treat laundry spray that helps with killing the smell of the diapers. I got mine at Whole Foods and it really helps. For diaper rash I use Grandma El's diaper cream. You have to be careful of the kind of cream you use with cloth because it can cause repelling which is BAD news for your diapers.  Along with using the cloth wipe mixture I listed above I also use California Baby Diaper Solution. It isn't cheap but I love how it smells and it only takes a little bit and a dry cloth for when she has just had a wet diaper and doesn't need a full service clean up. And the last tool in my arsenal is the Bummi Liners. I haven't started using these just yet but they are to help with things now that we are moving away from only being breastfed to entering the world of solids and when things are now about to get the diapers :) I will update the next level of cloth diapering in a few months once we have dabbled in this area more.

As far as cleaning goes it is a fairly simple routine. I wash diapers about every 3 days. I first take my laundry bag and dump everything into the washer and turn the bag inside out. The bag I use is the Kissaluv Pail Liner.  It just goes in a regular trash can, nothing fancy.

I have the old school washer, top loading, which happens to work great for cloth diapers because of the high water level as opposed to the front loading fancy modern looking machines. This was actually the reason I choose the old school model when we bought our appliances.  I run the diapers with cold water to wash out all the nasty first. After that rinse I add some Charlie's Soap with the hot cycle. 

I use Charlie's Soap for all the baby clothes washing. Lucy has sensitive skin and this stuff is great at just getting it clean without any dyes or scent. I bought some Rockin' Green originally which is highly recommended but my little girl just can't handle it on her skin.  Once they are all squeaky clean I toss everything into the dryer and put it on a low heat dry. If I have anything with some staining to it then it goes out on to the drying rack so that the sun can do its magic and bleach those stains right out. Once everything is dry it is time to stuff the diapers back together and we are ready for another round.

And there you have it. That is our diaper routine.

I really like the BumGenius diapers a lot. Our little one has some chunky legs and the BumGenius seems to be the best brand to handle her size. I don't care for the Fuzzibunz brand so much. I'm not saying it is bad but I bought a couple of one size Fuzzibunz diapers from their "seconds" site where the diapers have some minor issues but nothing major wrong with them. They just seem too small and don't seem to fit her as well as the BumGenius diapers do. 

 If you are thinking about cloth diapering and have some questions feel free to ask.  It is surprisingly easier then I would have ever thought.  And who doesn't love a little cloth diapered booty?