How and Why I Cloth Diaper...

How and Why I Cloth Diaper...

I’ve toyed with the idea of giving myself the nickname “semi-homesteader” a la Semi-homemade with Sandra Lee on the Food Network. I use to scoff at the concept of her show but as a mama of a growing family and with several business pokers in the fire, I get it.

Take how I cloth diaper…

But first, WHY I cloth diaper…

I registered for cloth diapers when I was pregnant for the first time with the primary goal of saving money and reducing waste. While I don’t think disposable diapers will be the end of humanity, it’s a lot of not-totally-necessary waste that bums me out.

According to various calculators when you google "cloth vs. disposable diaper cost", you save at least $800 the first year of cloth diapering and $1,100+ for every additional year after that.

I was sold.

Also: Those little padded butts in pretty colors and prints are pretty darn cute – way cuter than disposable diapers.

(Quincy's two month old clothed bum coordinating with his outfit no less!)

(Look at that cute, padded butt!)

I was gifted 12 diapers from friends and family as well as some of the necessary accouterments which I will outline below.

Here’s what I started off using cloth diapering:

  • 18 cloth all-in-one diapers
  • 3 travel wet bags
  • 2 wet bags that fit inside a 20 gallon trashcan
  • 20 gallon trashcan with a lockable lid
  • 30 cloth wipes
  • 3 small spray bottles
  • fancy cloth diaper detergent: Rockin Green
  • Diaper sprayer

Now for the brass tacks of how I cloth diaper and what I personal recommend:

I cloth diapered the boys 80% of the time for 13 months with Quincy and 11 months with Gabe and plan on aiming for 12 months with baby girl.

1 month old Quincy in a BumGenius All-In-One being held by my dear friend Sean.

7 month old Gabe wearing the SAME yellow diaper Q is in above (note to self: take more pictures of next baby in diapers as I have only naked or fully clothed pics of Gabe which is a shame)

Because the boys were big, I was able to use ONE package of disposable newborn diapers the first 2 weeks (until they were back at birth weight and free of meconium) and then they went directly into my BumGenius Cloth Diaper All-in-Ones.

I prefer All-in-One diapers because I want to save the step of stuffing diapers and I don’t really want to pull soggy liners out of the diapers if I don’t have to. All-in-Ones can just go directly into the wet bag or washer. Easy.

Whenever the boys started sleeping longer stretches at night (6 hours or more), we switched to lacquering their butts with Vaseline and putting them in a 12 hour disposable diaper at bedtime so we could skip night-time diaper changes entirely (as long as they didn’t poop, we didn’t change it). We also found that our boys were heavy wetters at night and cloth diapers just couldn’t cut it for a longer stretch of time.

Here’s what I would now personally recommend for those planning on cloth diapering – this is NOT a purist approach:

  • 18 cloth all-in-one diapers
  • 3 travel wet bags
  • 2 large wet bags that fit inside a 20 gallon trashcan
  • 20 gallon trashcan with a lockable lid
  • classic Tide powder detergent – jumbo Costco/SamsClub size
  • We did install a diaper sprayer on our toilet, but I am now convinced that just sprays germs all over your bathroom. User error and additional icky messes happened too often. As long as baby is exclusively breastfed, the poo doesn’t stink and is totally soluble and doesn’t even need to be disposed of before being put in the washer.
  • Once baby starts solids or any sort of formula, however, you WILL need: Cloth diaper liners. This is something I didn’t find out about until kiddo #2 – talk about a game changer! They are a thin piece of gauzy cotton that helps poo not stick to the diaper. You can just dump it into the toilet or a diaper genie.
  • DISPOSABLE WIPES – They are just far superior to the cloth wipes and since they are already moist you don’t have to have a spray bottle handy. It’s just more efficient and my personal preference.
  • Diaper Genie -if your bathroom isn’t close to your diapering station(s) - This is to collect cloth diaper liners and disposable wipes. And for us, this is where we put the soiled overnight disposable diapers.

But what about all of the laundry!?

It’s one extra load of laundry every other day.

I’m home enough with small children that it’s easy to incorporate into my day. One rinse cycle and then wash with hot water and your preferred powdered detergent on the most vigorous cycle. Then I hang dry my diapers in my bathroom. When I'm feeling romantic or need the sun to naturally bleach out some stains, they get hung outside on the clothesline.

Finally, why did we stop cloth diapering around a year each time and plan to do the same again?

Once babies get off breastmilk, the poop enters a new level of grossness. Both boys got off breastmilk around a year. It’s often referred to as “toddler diarrhea” – aka persistently soft stools that the liners weren’t even good at catching.

That’s when I pat myself on the back for making it as far as I did with cloth diapering and start buying disposables in bulk. Maybe I’ll make it farther with baby girl, but I’m giving myself the grace to quit at a year if I feel like it.

I did think I would use cloth diapers again with Quincy when we potty trained to help him feel when he got wet, but he potty trained so quickly it wasn’t even necessary! I’m glad I have them on hand as an option for Gabe when the time comes.

After using the same 18 diapers for two full years, some of them have loose elastic. I could manually replace the elastic, but have heard it's really time consuming and tedious. So instead, I am going to get rid of the worst in my stash and buy some much needed pink cloth diapers to replace them :)

Have you tried cloth diapering? Did it work for you? Why or why not – please let me know in the comments! Also, if you have any additional cloth diapering hacks, let me know!