My Switch to Cloth4:11 PM
Sometime around January, I began to pay closer attention to the sheer volume of dirty diapers that filled our trashcans each day and week and month. Out of the blue, I started thinking, I wonder if using disposable diapers is really the best thing I could be doing.
Also, I recalled some instances when I changed a few REALLY full, wet diapers and saw the gel inside the diaper stuck on Dorien's skin. That bothered me for several reasons - one, I don't know what that stuff is, but I doubt it's good for my sweet little baby's delicate bits and two, I really should pay more attention to exactly what it is that is touching, 24/7, the highly vulnerable skin of my baby.
There was also the ongoing cost of disposables. There are all kinds of calculators out there showing how much you spend on disposables. And I know not all babies go through diapers the same, but around here, if I got a box of diapers from Sam's, that was about $45. That might last me 2 months, but probably less. I even switched to a diaper subscription from Amazon.com/moms and saved some money, but that still gets me spending at the very LEAST $300/year. Not including the cost of wipes. So that means if my kiddo potty-trains at age 3, as history indicates, I'm up to at least $900 and that's a conservative estimate. Multiply that per kid. Brooklyn and August are sunk costs. No looking back. But for Dorien and any future children, those are costs I don't have to spend.
For me, it was more a reckoning of personal responsibility, ecologically and financially.
I am contributing tons of stuff to some landfill that will not decompose anytime within my or my children's lifetimes. And that is something I am not comfortable with. Why just contribute more trash? Why not be a better steward?
Thus began my exploration of cloth diapers. As I tend to do, I researched and researched. Weeks and weeks, I did this...Reasons to switch, different styles of cloth diapers, how it works, the different systems used by people, etc.
I interviewed my friends who use cloth diapers, asking every question I could think of (thank you, in particular, Carrie!!!), and finally decided to ease into it.
I'm gonna share with you exactly what switching to cloth diapers looked like for my family.
First things first - where are these diapers gonna go? Not in the trash anymore, so there's gotta be a holding spot. My research indicated that the best thing to do was buy a plastic trash can and at least 2 antibacterial pail liners, which are called wetbags.
The trash can (which came from Target - $10) with a liner in it.
The highest recommended pail liners (called wetbags) were a brand called Kissaluv's (2 for $28). They're machine washable and you line dry them. You keep more than one so that when you're washing the diapers and wetbag, you have another to pop in and catch more diapers.
I also purchased a bottle of Bac-Out by Biokleen ($9). This is an enzyme cleaner that you use to kill bacteria on poopy diapers. You do two things with this: 1) spritz it onto dirty diapers before putting them in the wetbag and 2) do a delicate cycle with a squirt or two of this in as one of the cleaning steps.
The other thing pictured are flushable liners by ImseVimse ($9). They're rice paper and you put them over the diaper to minimize the mess from a poopy diaper. If there is a poopy diaper, just toss the liner and poop into the toilet and flush. Cuts down on the mess made on your diaper. They really make a huge difference.
And for when I'm out and about, there is a smaller, portable wetbag. This came from an etsy shop, Monkey Foot Designs, and was also highly recommended. It's lined with the same PUL stuff that keeps bacteria from growing. I can also throw it in the wash, same as the other wetbags ($15). This particular size holds one cloth diaper.
The thing about cloth diapers that you can't tell in advance is which kind will work best for you and your baby. Babies are all shaped differently, and mine come in the CHUNKY size. So, I figured I'd sample at least a few different styles.
My first purchase of a real diaper was on craigslist. Two gDiapers ($28). They're hybrids. They have a washable outer layer, but a plastic liner that snaps in them. You can use either a disposable insert (that is also flushable if your plumbing system is strong) or a cloth insert. Of course gDiaper sells both the disposable and cloth liners ($46 for a pack of disposable liners and 6 gCloths). However, one of the great things about cloth diapers is that you can use just about any other insert in these - doesn't have to be gDiaper specific.
The pack I bought had 2 diapers: orange and cream. Above is what the cloth shell looks like. You can see the four snaps for the liner to attach to on the four corners of the white part.
Here is what the cream one looks like with the plastic liner snapped in.
Here's what it looks like with the disposable piece laid inside it. And then, below, what it looks like on Dorien! A note about gDiapers - they're designed to have the velcro part snap behind the baby in order to keep the baby from undoing the diaper. However, it was more difficult to put the diaper on that way, and I read some reviews that said it didn't affect the way the diaper worked if you turned it around. So I turned it around. Yes, Dorien sometimes grabs the velcro and undoes it, but I try to keep pants on him so he won't. And they do work just as well backwards.
Here are two of the gCloths (to the left) and to the right are several Zorb liners - bamboo and very absorbent as well as very soft. They can be folded up to fit in just about any diaper.
One of the most popular cloth diapers is the bumGenius brand. They're called All-in-One pocket diapers. There are different options available, but I went with the 4.0, at $17.95/diaper (slightly less when purchased in multiples). They're the closest thing to disposables in how they work.
They come in really cool colors, velcro attachments or snaps, plus a series of other snaps that mean you can size them to fit infants through toddlers.
They have an opening on the back side that allows you to put a liner in them. They come with their own set of microfiber liners (but other sets of liners will also work). The thing to note about microfiber is that it is so absorbent that you can't put it next to the baby's skin. It will actually leach moisture from their skin. But it goes into the pocket and it's no problem!
You can also double up the liners to make them super absorbent for naps and night-time. As it is, Dorien is such a heavy wetter at night (primarily because he nurses all night long) that I was going through multiple disposables and waking up to find his diapers leaking everywhere. I figured cloth was worth a shot!
So, here are some supplies I acquired (going clockwise):
a squirt bottle with Bac-Out in it for spritzing dirty diapers
an aqua bumGenius diaper
a stack of gDiaper disposable inserts
two Ragababe Large inserts ($8.95 each)
several Ragababe small liners ($4.95 each)
the main absorbent pad for a bumGenius (included with purchase of a diaper)
some smaller liners for bumGenius
Ragababe is one of the best cloth diapers out there. IF you can get them. They're made by a family in Iowa (Christ-followers, actually!) who have developed what may be one of the best cloth diapers ever, according to every reviewer I've found. They make a few different types (All-in-Ones (pocket diapers) and All-in-Two's) to fit newborns through 35 pound toddlers. They also make wetbags, liners, cloth wipes, etc. They're very reputable.
The problem is that they have such limited production capacity right now that as they have batches of diapers available (on a weekly basis) they sell out within moments.
I have been trying for months now to get a diaper and just haven't managed. But I have purchased some liners and been extremely happy with them.
Fortunately, their liners work as inserts in gDiapers, bumGenius and probably most other diapers. And they are organic cotton and therefore, ok to be next to baby's skin.
So here is what a nighttime setup can look like using a bumGenius.
One or two inserts in the pocket and a small liner on top. Yes, they're bulky, but who cares?
Ready to go on baby.
As a comparison:
gDiaper (orange one) is a hybrid cloth diaper with a re-usable shell and liner. You change out the inserts (cloth or disposable) as needed and wipe down the shell if it's pee. If poop gets on it, throw the liner and shell in the wetbag.
The bumGenius is an All in One, a pocket diaper. When it's time to change the diaper, the whole thing goes in the wetbag. No letting it air-dry. When there's poo on it, if it's solid enough, dump the poo in the toilet, squirt the diaper with Bac-out and then into the wet bag.
Or, run the diaper under cold water under a tub faucet and dislodge particles, then into the wetbag.
Now, I was happy with the re-usable nature of the gDiapers, but the elastic and snaps tended to leave red marks on Dorien's plump little body. I still use them, but they just aren't the BEST for him. bumGenius are nice, but you wash them every time you use them, meaning you need to have a lot more on hand. Also, I don't think they are the best for chunkier babies - particularly when you need to load them up for night-time use. But they are great if you're wanting other people to change your baby, like church/moms/gym childcare...
Fortunately, I found a brand called Softbums. Family owned and operated, I purchased 2 as a sample and was thrilled with them! Above are the first two I purchased ($23.95 which includes a Super Dry-touch "pod").
One of the nicest things about both Ragababe and Softbums are their highly informative websites. Softbums actually has an incredibly helpful brochure containing everything you need to know about cloth diapers vs. disposables, illustrating the different types of diapers available, the cost of cloth vs. disposable, and how to figure out how many diapers you'll need. I can't tell you how handy that information has been for me in this process!
Softbums has 2 basic diaper systems: an Echo and an Omni.
The Echo has a re-usable shell that you snap liners into, but no pocket. The Omni has both and is considered an All-in-Two (pocket and shell). And the Omni is a little bigger, fitting babies up to 40 pounds. You can see why I was interested!
The Softbums have a "slide-to-size" function that makes them fit newborns through 40lbs without needing adjustable snaps. You pull out these little toggles, adjust to your baby's leg sizes and find your fit.
Here are two of the large liners. They have a soft cotton side and a microfiber side.
If you want to use the diaper shell over and over throughout the day, you snap the liner in...
And you have lots left over, so you...
fold it back under and you have a super-absorbent diaper, but it's still not really bulky.
Or, you can turn it microfiber side up and put it in the pocket.
And it looks like this. All ready to go. And in case you worry that you won't remember what side faces up, the tag has instructions on it. Handy!
And here is the Omni all ready to go. And you can see an extra patch of velcro for when your baby is itty and you need to fold the tab over to make it fit.
They fit extremely well, keep Dorien dry through naps and overnight. And if I change him regularly, the shell remains dry while the liner gets wet/dirty and I can re-use the shells over and over.
And they fit Dorien fabulously! I made Softbums my primary diaper and use an assortment of liners with them. And we've been exclusively cloth for several weeks now and really really loving it!
I wash them about every other day and I have a little regimen that I'm playing with. The key is not lots of soap, either. You use a teensy bit of detergent and as much water as possible. The Softbums I can dry in the dryer, but I line dry my bumGenius and the gDiaper liners and the wetbags.
If you are interested, there is a website that I used as a wonderful resource:
All About Cloth Diapers
Reviews, Q&A, how to get started, it's all there. But hopefully, this might simplify some of it for you.
It's been a very positive change for us, and even Kyle likes it! Thanks for sticking with me through this tutorial of a post!