Our Cloth Diaper Project--Finale!

A pretty big thing happened at our house this past week.  I washed my last batch of cloth diapers!

Yes, Ellie is 2 years old and a big girl now :)  And actually, our cloth diaper story really isn't totally over since we'll be using them again after baby #4 arrives in December. 

I haven't shared much about {this little project} before.  Some of you maybe thinking it really isn't a {little} project.  And that's what I used to think too.  Which is why I decided to take a minute and share our family's experience with cloth diapers.

This is Ellie in her cute little cloth diaper ;)

I've mentioned before that I call myself a hippie sometimes.  Well, that's partly because of where I live right now.  I don't personally know anyone else in our city that uses cloth diapers.
We moved 2 years ago and where we used to live, it was something that a lot of my friends did.
And I think that made a lot of difference for me.

Cloth diapering, when it is totally foreign, seems totally overwhelming.  It's hard to know where to start without someone to show you the ropes.

So, I'll share our story here in case there are some of you that are wondering how it works and where to start.
Feel free to ask questions.  And know that there is not a "right" way.  This is just how we do it :)

I'll answer tho most common questions people ask me about cloth diapering:

Why did you choose to cloth diaper?
I used disposables for Jay and Kay.  I switched Kay to cloth right as I was starting to potty train her for practice for me before baby #3 came.  As a "first timer" at cloth, I wanted to know what to expect and have my system figured out before I was sleep deprived with a newborn. Trying the cloth diapers on Kay first gave me courage to try cloth diapering.
Kay did well in them and seemed to potty train better in cloth diapers.

There were a few things that made me interested in cloth diapering specifically:

1- I read some articles about the chemicals that are in disposable diapers.  Some of them have been linked to a rise in infertility as well as cancers.  I started to think about what is best for baby. (If you want to read more about the chemical debate in diapers, here is a good place to start.)

2- I was thinking about this gift I was receiving in this {little} person joining our family.  And when I thought about the estimated 4,700 diposable diapers that we would go through before the baby was potty trained, I just felt like my little gift should not hurt the world she is becoming a part of and will inherit from my choices.  I didn't want my baby to leave that ugly spot right from the start.

3- There is a financial investment initially with cloth diapers.  But, over time they save you a lot of cash.  Especially if you get to use them with more than one child.  My husband was in school and we didn't have a lot of extra money to start our cloth diaper "collection."  We really had to consider whether to choose to do cloth because of that.  I started with just buying a couple to try out with Kay.  I wanted to feel sure we would really go cloth before we invested all the way.  My husband was not nearly as motivated as I was to do cloth diapering.  But at our house, we've come to an agreement: he does most of the dishes and I change most of the diapers.  Knowing that it would be my job made it easier for him to commit too :)

 What kind of cloth diaper do you use?
I decided to start with gDiapers.  I liked the idea of having a pad that lays inside the diaper that you can remove when you change, and if it's not poopy, you can replace it with a clean pad and use the outside cover again.  This is different than the "pocket" style (I'll talk about those later).  One thing I liked about these was that they are potentially less laundry.

gDiapers come in newborn, small, med, and large.  I bought about 10 of each size.  I tried their newborn size and it was terrible.  I don't recommend doing cloth diapering on a newborn.  It's best to wait until baby is about 10 pounds, or the size of a regular small diaper. 

The other reason I chose gDiapers is because they are less bulky.  Many other brands are a one-size-fits-all diaper.  But that means that a tiny person is wearing all that bulk and it's snapped up to fit her.  And that works for a lot of people.  But I was worried that her clothes wouldn't fit well.  And the gDiapers were still bulkier than a disposable, but in a cute way :)

gDiapers also have biodegradable inserts that are another option.  It's like doing part cloth, part disposable and it's better for the environment too.

I also used "pocket" styled diapers when my kids got bigger than the gDiapers large size.  The kind I bought were the Kawaii Baby cloth diapers.
  These diapers are a very affordable alternative to brand name diapers and they have worked great for us. 

Where did you buy your cloth diapers?
As I said before, we were in school when we decided to cloth diaper.  So I was interested in getting the best prices I could for diapers.  Some diapers are $10-20 a piece.  That can add up quickly.  I looked at baby "deal-a-day" websites, ebay, etc. when looking for good prices.  It can take some time, but it did save us some money to compare prices.

What kind of wipes do you use?
I made my own wet wipes.  I used 2 pieces of flannel or terry cloth about 7x7 inches sewn together.  They worked great.  I just got them wet right before I used them.  If I was out and about I used disposable wipes.

What about dealing with poop?
When you are a mom, you get to be more up close with poop, right?  Cloth diapering doesn't change that.  When baby is milk-fed you don't have to do anything different with the poop.  Just toss it into the container you keep them in because the poop is water-soluble.  But when baby starts solids you have to dispose of it.
I like these biodegradable and flushable liners.  Just lift them up off the diapers and toss them in the toilet.  But I didn't always use them.  I used to just tip the diaper and dump it.  And that works too. 

These liners also work great if you need to use a diaper cream.  It's best not to get the cream on the cloth diaper because it affects its absorbancy.  The liner takes care of that.

Where do you store your dirty diapers?
I picked up a frosting bucket from my grocery store and have been using that to store dirty diapers in.  It's worked well.  I store the diapers as is (no wet solution in the bucket) and just rinse the bucket in the sink by my washer each time I wash the diapers.

My friend uses a wet bag and throws it in the wash with her diapers each time she does the wash.  

What about the laundry?
You don't want your dirty diapers to sit a long time.  The smell grows that way.  I wash them about every 3-4 days.  But you pretty much wash just whenever you are running out!   For me, two extra loads a week isn't significant.  It's pretty simple.  Some people wonder about the environmental impact of washing diapers.  But it's often compared to the 5-6 flushes of the toilet your baby will be making when s/he is potty trained.  And our water is a renewable resource.  Disposable diapers never breakdown.

You do need to be careful about the soap you use with your diapers.  I used this soap powder for mine.  But my new homemade soap recipe will work too, when baby #4 comes :)

I run a rinse cycle and a regular wash cycle.  I have a normal washer and dryer.  Nothing fancy.  They work great with cloth diapers.

You should know that there is a bit of a smell while you wash your diapers.  It doesn't last.  My washer is in the basement so no one has to smell it, but if your is in the kitchen, you should be aware that you might need to burn a candle or something :)
I line-dry the outsides of the diapers and put the liners in the dryer.  The previous owners hung some nice telephone? wire from the rafters of our unfinished basement, which work great.  But I'm including a link for a great (space saving) solution for a drying rack too:

Can you make your own diapers?
I made my own inserts/pads for my gDiapers.  It was a good cost savings for me.  But it's not for everyone.  I also made my own wipes (see above).   If you want to look into sewing your own diapers here are some places to get you started.

What about when you are traveling?  Or just out and about?
I keep little plastic bags in my diaper bag, just like I did for disposable diapers.  When I am running errands and need to change I diaper I put the dirty diaper in the bag and instead of tossing dirty diaper in the garbage, I take it home and toss it into the bucket.  I thought this would feel weird, but it doesn't.  I use disposable wipes when I am out because wet wipes have to be treated with teatree oil or something antimicrobial to keep their dampness from becoming a freshness problem.

 These wet bags are nice because you can toss it in the wash too!

When we travel I use disposable diapers.

And I also use disposables when I am lazy.  Or if I didn't get the wash done in time.  Or if my babysitter can't handle a cloth diaper.  About babysitters: most of my babysitters do great with cloth diapers.  In fact, they think it's rather cool that we use them.  Which I think is cute of them!
The main thing is: you have to make cloth diapering work for YOU.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes I'm glad I have another option when I need it.  Other families may do things differently.  And that's ok.

Overall, I feel like we have been successful in our 3 goals (see beginning of post) of: less chemical contact for baby (healthier), better for the world we live in and baby will inherit, and better for the budget.  Every time I use a disposable diaper I cringe, knowing that I'm throwing away around 25 cents change.  After you use cloth for a {little} while that might happen to you too :)

I'm looking forward to putting the diapers away in the closet for a few months.  Just after Christmas, baby #4 will get to use them and I will be glad to think about those 3 goals again for a healthy baby, world, and budget.

But, not having a baby in diapers is pretty great.

And the hippie thing...well, I'm ok with it :)


Trish said...

I've been making my own diapers for my son since just before he was born and I love it! It's been 2 years now and I'm thinking I need to make up some trainers now. A trick if you want to use cloth wipes out and about is to use those lovely peri bottles they give you in the hospital. Just fill it with water and keep it in the diaper bag. Then you can still wet each wipe individually just before you use them!

Gretchen said...

Jedda, I'm definitely going to have to pick your brain about this a bit because David and I really want to cloth diaper. I had no idea that you do it and I'm SO excited to know someone in real life who does!!! That helps a lot! You're right, it IS overwhelming when you first look into it, but luckily I've been able to get some suggestions via Facebook. I'm looking into using the Best Bottom brand of cloth diapers that work on basically the same premise as the gDiapers, but they're a one size fits all option and the liner actually snaps in rather than just laying in the diaper. I love the idea of making my own wipes and had seen recipes for using rolls of paper towels soaked in a solution of baby oil and baby shampoo, but I'll have to think about doing the cloth ones. That seems to make sense if I'm going to be cloth diapering anyway. I have a TON of questions and I won't barrage you with them here, but I'm really excited to learn more!

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