Monday, February 24, 2014

cloth only please

Warning! Warning! Poop-talk about to commence...

Hans and Freja (only 3 months old, so little!) 
It's nice to wear only a diaper on hot days
I was never the kind of girl who dreamed of my perfect wedding or thought of names of my future children. I did always know, however, that I would use cloth diapers on my babies' bums. Why? Mainly for the environment. I reuse ziploc bags, wash laundry in cold water, shop at the thrift store, ride my bicycle, support local, organic farmers, and, generally, try to be a good citizen on this planet. Throwing away upwards of 12 paper/plastic/polymer diapers a day would not fit in with my lifestyle. Not every diaper is poopy, generally only one a day. The rest are just pee-soaked cotton. Believe me, parents have to deal with a lot more gross things than pee on a daily basis. It's really no big deal.

Why else have I used cloth diapers on Freja and now Matilda?
  • They're good for sensitive skin. (This is largely due to the fact that you can tell when a cloth diaper is wet easier than with a disposable so cloth diapers get changed more frequently. So, theoretically, this argument is moot if a disposable diaper is changed as frequently as a cloth diaper, but since disposables cost's easy to justify leaving them on for just a little bit longer.)
  • It's easy! I use pre-folds because they are affordable, absorbent, and don't leak, but cloth diapers have gotten fancy over the years. Check out these BumGenius all-in-ones: BumGenius Elemental
  • It's not messy or gross. (The diaper goes straight from bum to bucket; from bucket to washing machine. I rarely touch poop. It does get stinkier and messier when solid foods are introduced, but, like I said before, babies and toddlers aren't neat and clean. No big deal.)
  • I have a good system. I don't know why I would use disposables. Pay money for something that I'm going to throw away?
Cloth diapering is becoming more and more popular and information and products are multiplying rapidly on the internet. When I was pregnant with Freja I was inundated with information. Flats, pre-folds, AIOs, fitted, covers, PUL, etc. etc. I felt like I was learning a new language. So, to help potential cloth diaperers out, and to answer any questions people may have about why we do this (in this day and age!), here is a quick cloth diapering 101.

The two-part system: the cloth diaper and the waterproof cover. If Matilda wears a cloth diaper without a cover, she will leave wet marks wherever she sits or lies. The waterproof cover is the barrier between the wet diaper and the person or surface.

Baby Freja, modeling the two-part system: PUL cover with a diaper underneath

The cloth diaper: options are endless. 
  • The old standby are flat diapers. These are basically rectangles of many layers of twill or gauze fabric that is folded and pinned in place on baby. Luckily for parents these days, pins have been replaced by Snappis, sort of like a rubber shaped "T" with Ace bandage hooks on the ends.
a flat diaper
sleeping in a flat diaper secured with a Snappi (note that she's also lying on a towel to act as the barrier between the diaper and the couch).
  • Fitted diapers. These look exactly like disposables but they're made out of cloth. Freja's Meme (my mom) spent the winter before Freja was born sewing fitted diapers for her new grandbaby. She used a combination of terry cloth (cut-up towels), microfiber, fleece, and cotton. We've found the best combination to be fleece on the outside filled with microfiber and terry cloth. Fitted diapers close with either velcro (Aplix) or snaps. I prefer velcro because it's easy to affix on a squirmy baby, but some friends prefer snaps because you don't have to worry about closing the velcro before washing the diaper.

a fitted diaper; looks and wears just like a disposable but is cotton.
  • Pocket diapers: cloth diapers are notorious for their slow-drying time. I refuse to use the dryer for diapers since that defeats the purpose of helping the environment by using cloth. Pocket diapers help solve the problem of slow-drying by breaking down the fitted diaper into various components. The diaper is fitted and has a pocket down the middle for the soaker pad. When the diaper is soiled, pull out the soaker pad and wash and dry the diaper and pad separately. By thinning out the diaper it dries faster.
The cover:
  •  Covers are generally made out of PUL (I can't remember what this stands for but it's a type of waterproof plastic). They come in plain white, solid colors, or fun prints. Snaps or velcro close the cover over the diaper. A friend recently recommended the Nikky cover which is all cotton and allows the baby's bum to breath easier.
a cover made out of PUL

AIOs or All-in-ones
  • These work the most like disposable diapers. Cotton, microfiber, or terry cloth is covered with PUL (the waterproof fabric) so cloth diapering is just a one step process. Freja's Meme made a couple of these but they were a little bulky compared to the two-part system. Still, no leaks and convenient for travel.
  • We have a little Haier washing machine on the boat. I am in awe of parents who cloth diaper without a washing machine. If we didn't have the washing machine I would probably use gdiapers, a good hybrid of disposable and cloth.
  • soiled diapers get dropped into a bucket. 
  • If the cover smells like pee or has poop on it, the cover goes in the bucket too.
  • Every other day I dump the contents of the bucket into the washing machine.
  • Cold water rinse.
  • Hot water wash with Purex Free & Clear detergent. The main consideration with detergents is that it shouldn't contain enzymes, softeners, brighteners, etc. which can buildup in the diapers and make them less absorbent.
  • Cold water rinse.
  • Second cold water rinse.
  • Hang out on the line to dry.
  • That's it! I spend about 30 minutes every other day washing, drying, and folding the diapers.
I find a couple websites to be informative and to carry a wide range of products:

I am a strong advocate of cloth diapers and would love to answer any questions about the process, products, etc. Do you cloth diaper? Wish you did but aren't sure where to start? Chime in! 

No comments:

Post a Comment