Cloth diapers? Anyone besides hippies use them?!

// Published March 10, 2012 by Swati

People are normally surprised when they learn that I have been using cloth diapers with both my kids (20 months & 5 months old).  No one really thought that we’d still be using them.

Why cloth diapers?

Why not? I am not a particularly “green person” (we have incandescent light bulbs everywhere) and the money wasn’t a major concern for us.  As a woman, I do not enjoy my monthly cycles and wearing pads all day long, so I didn’t think that my kid would be enjoying it either (24/7 for a couple of years?!). There are plenty of questionable and dangerous materials used in making a disposable diaper that I don’t understand why cloth diapering isn’t mainstream (there is actually a study done in 1999 where mice showed respiratory/asthma issues from diapers)! Using cloth diapers just seems like the civilized thing to do, and it really isn’t difficult.

Pros:

  • Cloth diapers these days are as easy to use as disposables.
  • Cloth diapers have simple ingredients (umm, cotton?)
  • Cloth diapers minimize rashes, chemical burns / worrying about recalls.

Cons:

  • Cloth diapers have to be changed more frequently (1-2 pees, and they get pretty soaked).
  • Washing cloth diapers at home requires cloth-diaper-safe detergents (something with no residue, fragrances, etc)
  • Washing cloth diapers at home requires the top-loader machines that use lots of water or HE machines that let you increase water levels. (You’re washing poop and pee. You need water.)

People argue over what is cheaper: cloth or disposable. I, quite frankly, do not care. We only use cloth diapers because we believe it is best  for our kids. We complement our cloth diapers with cloth wipes (just throw them in the wash with the diapers), so as far as I am concerned, the only crap that touches their privates is from their very own intestines.

What options are there?

There are MANY options out there for cloth diapers. I found the information overwhelming. They make cloth diapers look like disposable diapers these days (to make it seem easy) which gives you even more options. I find prefolds to be the easiest (how to put on a prefold diaper) – my husband I mastered using the “bikini” method (you don’t have to use a diaper cover then) within 5-10 diaper changes (so less than a day with a 6 week old baby). These are the items we have on our change table:

  • 18 prefolds (newborns laundry: every day, with my 5 month old & 20 month old, I do it every 3 days)
  • 3 Snappi Fasteners (we lose these easily, so you might want to get more)
  • 3 Aristocrats wool covers (I stand by this brand, others just hold up as well or are not as “pure” in their product)
  • 30+ cloth wipes (my husband uses 4-5 wipes for poo changes, whereas I use 1-2; he can easily go through 30 wipes in a day. I don’t. So it may vary for you.)
  • Bum-bum Balm (rarely used – mostly used if someone let them sleep in a poopy diaper overnight – they end up with a rash then)

Also, once your kid goes past the 15 lbs, you’re going to want the prefolds that go upto 40 lbs. Unless your child is of exceptional weight you should only ever need two sizes of prefolds – the 8-15 lb and 15-40 lb. Our 20 month old is still only at 25 lbs, and I expect her to be potty trained within the year.

Why the wool covers?

Initially, we got the Bummies Diaper Kit which had most of this stuff (except for the wipes and covers), but I would recommend against it if you are planning to get the wool covers.  Now, why the wool covers? Well, the kit came with polyester covers that is more or less waterproof. The problem with these covers is that the binding that goes around the baby’s legs would often leave marks on the baby. It’s elasticy and sort of tight; it also seemed uncomfortable to be wrapped around plastic all day long. Now, the aristocrat wool covers are awesome. They are not scratchy. They wear like pants. They hold a LOT of moisture – I’ve never had one that made  clothes wet (watery newborn poop might leak – but that’ll happen to any diaper). They are long lasting (I might be wrong, but they are still good for me for 20 months of continuous use – two babies, back to back!).

Any regrets?

I deeply regret purchasing our Bosch HE washing machines. They are horrendous at washing these diapers (and our towels). No matter what the load is like – wet towels, heavy load, light load – no matter what – it always uses the same amount of water. Cloth diapers require water to wash properly – or you’ll get ammonia like smells from the urine. You’ll be pulling your hair if you end up with a washing machine that does not let you adjust water levels or if you can’t “trick” your machine to use more water by throwing in a soaking wet towel. Bosch doesn’t let you. It’s frustrating. Now I end up having to give a good rinse to the diaper before putting it in the pail and then throwing soaking wet diapers in the laundry.

(Lest you think the problem is restricted to diapers – I end up having to do the same for towels which, although don’t have urine, tend to stink unless they’re washed in a lot of water.)