I want to talk for a little bit about my cloth diaper routine. I get a ton of questions about the cloth diapers that I use, how it all works, if its really cheaper than using disposable diapers, if I have to touch poo on a regular basis, etc. All of those questions will be answered shortly!
What Made You Choose Cloth Diapers?
Honestly, Hubby was the person to suggest cloth diapers in the first place, and I was really skeptical at first! He had a tough time convincing me that it would be worth it, but for us, it boiled down to cost. We were pretty broke when we found out we were expecting Little Man, and I wasn’t looking forward to spending $60+ a month just on diapers. I talk about how much moolah its saving us a little later, but other highlights of using cloth diapers include being environmentally friendly and healthier for your baby.
Environmentally Friendly- By not throwing away 300+ diapers per month, you’re helping eliminating the 3rd (THIRD!) most common landfill item. Diapers supposedly take somewhere between 250-500 years to decompose. I’m just thinking about all of the disposable diapers used per day just in the United States….I don’t even want to know the real numbers, it makes me feel kind of sick.
Healthier- I don’t think its much of a stretch to say that cotton, microfiber, bamboo, and hemp are gentler on a baby’s skin than plastic. I’m not saying they’re better for every baby, but in general, cloth diapers decrease skin reactions and diaper rash associated with disposable diapers (or ‘sposies, if you will.)
In the world of cloth diapers there is SO much information and SO many ways to cloth diaper. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent researching cloth diapers before I decided on my diapers. I’m a research person. I’m THAT person who could read 500 articles about a minuscule topic and still not be sure what to do. That’s why, when I was gifted a few BumGenius 4.0 diapers at my baby shower, I decided to just stick with those!
BumGenius 4.0s are a type of pocket diaper. I won’t get into the details about the different types of cloth diapers here, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read THIS article from Going Home to Roost. She lays it ALL out for you in a super easy to understand format. The BumGenius 4.0 diapers are one-size fits all, which means that they will basically fit babies from newborn all the way through potty training years! How cool is that? We use the “hook and loop” or velcro closure, but they also come in snaps. The snaps are supposed to stand up to wear & tear better and tend to last longer, but the velcro gives you a more regular, disposable diaper experience, which Hubby really liked.
I should also mention that picking a diaper can depend on your child’s “build,” too. Little Man is a very long, very skinny baby. According to the growth charts (which I think are a bunch of bull, but they’re helpful in this instance haha) he has consistently been in the 95th+ percentile for height, and in the 30th or less percentile for weight since he was born. The BumGenius diapers have fit him extremely well in all stages of his growth. Some diapers fit skinny babies better, while others fit chunky babies better, and what works really well for your first child may not necessarily work for the second; however, I think the BumGenius diapers do an exceptionally well job at fitting almost all shapes and sizes of babies.
I’ll be honest here, I didn’t really try any other diapers so I wouldn’t know how they compare to any other brand or style. I have friends who absolutely love their fitteds or prefolds, and others who use a combination approach to cloth diapers, where they have a few different types that they use for different things (some for around the house, others for going out, and still others for night time use. ) I’ve been so happy with BumGenius that I haven’t had any desire to try anything else. 🙂
How Many Diapers Do You Need?
Like I said, I was gifted a few (about 10) BumGenius 4.0 diapers at my baby shower, but I knew that wouldn’t be near enough. The amount of diapers you need basically depends on two things: the type of diapers you have, and how often you want to do laundry. Newborn babies typically need a diaper change every 2-3 hours with (possibly) a longer break at night. If you’re using flat diapers, prefolds, or fitters (See link above for more info), you can get away with several liners and only a few covers, but if you’re using pockets or all-in-ones like me, you’ll need a whole new diaper at each change. Basically, you’ll need about 12 diapers per day until your baby gets a bit older.
The more often you do laundry, the less diapers you’ll need. Say you do laundry every day. You’ll need 12 for that day, plus a few extra for baby to wear while those 12 are in the wash, so you’ll need 16-18 diapers. If you only want to do laundry weekly, you’ll need more like 85-90 diapers. I don’t know anyone who has that many, but I’m sure there are people out there haha. I didn’t want to do laundry daily, but I also didn’t want to buy 80 diapers. I opted for doing a load of diapers every other day so I knew I would need 24+ diapers.
Side note: The older your baby gets, the less often their diaper needs to be changed, and they’ll also sleep longer through the night (hopefully,) which eliminates several diaper changes. Little man is 12 months old now, and currently we go through 5-6 diapers in a 24 hour period, which means I do laundry less often… more like every 3-4 days.
At 17 bucks a pop, I wasn’t about to buy 20 more brand new BumGenius diapers up front! I opted for buying some gently used BumGenius 3.0 diapers (the same, just a little bit older model) on CraigsList to start out with. Once I got comfortable with them, I re-sold them on CraigsList (for the exact same price I bought them for) and used the money to buy a set of brand new 4.0s. Best use of $200 I’ve ever spent! We’ll talk about cost later, but just know…this was a great deal!
What Accessories Do You Need?
Technically, you can easily get away with using just BumGenius diapers and the inserts they come with. You don’t really NEED anything else. I can’t speak for other types/brands of diapers, but we did quite well with just our diapers for several months. Having said that, once we had a little bit of extra money to spend, there were a few things I bought that have made cloth diapering easier for us.
Doublers– Doublers are an extra piece of material that can be stuffed in your pocket diapers with your inserts in order to make them more absorbent. They “double” the absorbency, hence the name. Little Man is what some call a “heavy wetter.” He can pee a LOT, and therefore, we had problems with leaky diapers for a little while, especially at night. Not cool. There are all different brands, materials, and sizes of doublers, but we opted for these Hemp Babies Diaper Doublers, size small. We chose them because they had great reviews, and at $3.00 each are very affordable compared to other doublers I looked into. We have not been disappointed. They are incredibly absorbent, but thin enough that they don’t cause too much extra bulk, which means his pants still fit comfortably over the diaper 🙂
Soakers- Soakers really aren’t different from doublers, except that for the most part they are even more absorbent. Many of them have more layers and are bulkier in order to soak up as much liquid as possible. Even after buying the Hemp Babies doublers, Little Man was still wetting through his diaper at night, so we bought a few of these Knickernappies SuperDo inserts, size medium. These babies can soak up some pee! haha This is the only thing I put in Little Man’s diaper each night (no extra inserts, doublers, etc) and he hasn’t woken up wet since we started using them. I call that success!
These are more expensive than the doublers, but since we only use them at night, I only had to buy a few (one for every day that you don’t do laundry) I’ve ended up with 5 total over time, which gives me a little bit of laundry wiggle room 🙂
Pail Liners & Wet Bags- These two are very similar, and many people use the terms interchangeably; however, pail liners are a bag that goes into your diaper pail which holds the dirty diapers, while Wet Bags are typically smaller, with a draw string or zipper closure, that can be carried in the diaper bag to hold wet/dirty dipes while out of the house. Both are washable and re-usable. I didn’t buy either of these for a long time because I didn’t think they were that necessary. I used plain ol’ trash bags in the diaper pail and reused plastic grocery bags in the diaper bag. But then I had this revelation that I was spending more money (and making more unnecessary trash) on trash bags than a reusable pail liner would have cost me in the first place. I bought this Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner, and it has actually revolutionized laundry days! I’ll explain how much it helps in just a bit. Because I liked it so much, I ended up buying a second one and a couple of these Itzy Ritzy Wet Bags to keep in his diaper bag. I recommend them both!
Cloth Wipes- I actually don’t use cloth wipes (yet.) I still use regular baby wipes. I buy the unscented Up&Up brand (from Target) in bulk online. I have been planning on making the switch to cloth wipes for awhile because, along with the washable pail liner, I think it will save a few steps in the cleanup process. I just haven’t run out of my regular wipe stash since I decided to switch, and I haven’t gotten around to making them yet. I plan on making my own out of materials I already have on hand as discussed in THIS article from The Red Kitchen. Looks pretty easy to me! Note to Self: I really need to get on that! You can also buy cloth wipes from places like Amazon
or Kelly’s Closet. I buy all of my cloth diapering supplies from one of these two places 🙂
Diaper Sprayer- *Disclaimer: I talk a LOT about poo in this section. Just so you’re ready 🙂 I put the diaper sprayer last on my list because I think it is the least important cloth diapering accessory. Honestly, I think it’s a waste of money. Some Moms would beg to differ, so I’m including it in order for you to make your own informed decision. A diaper sprayer is a little tool that attaches to your toilet reservoir so you can spray down dirty diapers. It can help get the nasty, sticky poo into the toilet “easier.” I say “easier” because, for me, it just made more of a mess. I’m not sure if it was just our toilet, or what, but it caused our toilet to drain slower and back up on occasion. Yuck. I also had trouble getting the right amount of pressure… I would either not have enough pressure to spray the poo off OR too much pressure that caused icky water and poo to spray all over the bathroom. I gave up on the sprayer VERY quickly. Plus, if you have an exclusively breast-fed baby, you really don’t need to dump the diaper anyway!
Healthy, exclusively breast-fed babies have water-soluble poo. This means that you don’t even have to dump their poo out. Just wrap it up the whole diaper and stick it in your diaper pail until laundry day. You start running into stink problems if your baby is on formula or when they start eating solid food. If your baby is on formula, a diaper sprayer may be in your best interest, especially when baby is itty bitty, just because the composition of their poo is different and won’t be washed out as easily. When babies start on solid food, you’ll notice that their poo changes BUT you still don’t necessarily need a diaper sprayer. When they start solids a baby’s poo will become more…well, solid. But a healthy baby’s solid poo should easily come off the diaper. If my little guy has a poopy diaper, I just set it aside, finish changing him, and then take the dirty diaper to the toilet, turn it upside down, and dump the poo into the toilet bowl. Most of the time there is no shaking or scraping. No touching poo. No spraying it all over the wall. Nothing. It just falls out. Then I take the diaper back to his diaper pail until laundry day. Easy as pie.
Sick babies, or babies with intestinal issues, are a completely different story. I won’t even get into that except to say this: Once, Little Man was on antibiotics, which gave him a bad rash and diarrhea. We promptly switched to disposables until the diarrhea subsided, which lasted 2-3 days. To me, it wasn’t worth it to mess with that, ahem, mess.
…That’s all for now!
Whew! This is getting to be quite a long post! I wasn’t quite expecting to have this much to talk about 🙂
In order to keep your eyes from glazing over, I’ll continue this post in a couple of days with Part 2. Continue with Part 2 HERE, if I haven’t bored you to death yet. 🙂
Do you have any questions so far? or if you already use cloth diapers, any other suggestions, tips, or tricks?
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