A Child of the Cloth: Diapering that Tush

Another post on baby stuff.  Again: skip it if that’s not your gig.

I have mentioned before an overwhelming fear of accumulating a ton of stuff for our first baby that we didn’t need and didn’t use.  There have been lessons learned along the way, and several trips to the Pregnancy Center to donate stuff that we did not need.

One thing I took the plunge on and have been quite happy about: cloth diapers.  Google “cloth diapers” and over 2 millions hits come up.  There’s a lot of chatter about this topic.  Being the compulsive person I am, combined with an innate cheapness that I cannot shake, I probably read 1.5 million of these articles before committing to the idea.  I mean- it is a lot of money up front!  And you have to deal even more intimately with poop!  Shouldn’t those two factors rule this crazy idea out altogether?

Outside in just the diaper, minus the cover

Here were my deal-breakers:

1.  Swishing diapers around in the toilet. 

2.  Wringing diapers out after swishing them.  (I kind of dry-heave just thinking about that).

3.  Doing a load of diaper laundry every day.

Once I read enough articles and emailed with enough friends to learn that I would not have to do any of these three things, I decided to go for it.

With our first, we were given enough disposable diapers as gifts that we didn’t really start with the cloth until a few months in.  With our second, we started after maybe a month.  For a few months we had two in diapers.  Still, I managed to keep a manageable laundry schedule (only doing diaper laundry 2-3 times a week), and we saved a lot of money.  See aforementioned cheapness.

There is something about using cloth diapers that feels pretty simple to me.  I like looking around my space and seeing that we use everything we have and everything has a purpose.  Even what our kids poop in.  I realize that sounds odd but- yeah- I have a certain satisfaction from having everything we need on hand.  Maybe this is what drives people into the woods to homestead and stuff.  Whatever.

Typical outfit: diaper (with cover on) and t shirt

The great thing about cloth diapers is that you can usually recoup a good percentage of the money you spent if you decide to bail and sell them secondhand.  Tons of people will buy those already-pooped-in diapers, believe it or not.

MY SUPPLY

We went with Mother-ease OneSize diapers in both terry cloth and bamboo.  They didn’t have all the cute colors when we bought, so ours are all white.  I bought the Air Flow covers to go over them.  We have about 25-30 OneSize diapers, maybe 12-15 liners, and 3 Air Flow covers in sizes small, medium, m/l, and large.  We had a fleece blanket that I cut up into rectangles to lay in the diaper, as the part that goes up against his skin.  This wicks the pee away from his bottom so he’s not sitting in wet fabric until I get around to changing the diaper.

Up front, we spent about $350-400.  That’s a lot of money, and we probably spend more than most to run our washing machine more often, but still.  To diaper two (with the third coming in June) for that amount is pretty great.

PROS AND CONS

Here’s what I like about these diapers:

1.  Three and a half years of use and still going strong, with no signs of holes or wearing thin.

2.  Snaps.  Little Monkey is into wearing his diaper and rain boots around the house lately, and I like that the snaps prevent him from taking his diaper off.  I think velcro tabs would have been too easy for him to figure out.  The covers snap on sort of in a backwards way, so he has not figured out how to put his hands behind the diaper cover and yank it off.

Also, I think snaps have more durability year after year than velcro. Think of all of those machine washings and how velcro might lose its hold.  Just a consideration.

3.  Cost.  I liked the look of some other All in One diapers more but couldn’t afford enough of those to meet my goal of minimizing diaper laundry.  My goal was to keep my diaper laundry sporadic, and because of the cost of Mother-ease, we could buy enough to only have to do diaper laundry 2 or 3 times a week.  For the same amount of money toward Bumgenuis diapers, we would have had to do diaper laundry more often.

4.  They work.  Unless I ignore my kids for hours and hours on end, these diapers don’t leak.  Blow-outs stay contained.  Exceptions: Monkey can pee like no one’s business throughout the night, and we are still figuring out how to contain that.  He is down for 12 hours at night and right now he requires one diaper with three liners and a cover.  I think that works.  He has successfully soaked through every disposable overnight diaper I have put him in.  The kid can really eliminate the liquids.

Here’s what could use some improvement:

1.  Appearance.  The covers aren’t as cute as some others out there.  For Chicken, we often put her in a dress and the diaper and diaper cover was visible under her dress.  For that, I wish we had some cuter covers.  I tried a few other brands of covers with our diapers, but they leaked so it wasn’t worth it (even though they were cuter).

Pumping while wearing a diaper with a prone-to-leaks cover. I had to get rid of the cover eventually.

2.  Bulk.  This bugged me with Chicken, because we had so many little girl outfits that she couldn’t really wear because her diaper butt was so big.  Her favorite local uncle frequently liked to sing “Ramsey’s got a big old butt” whenever we were around.  I’m sure that scarred her in some way.  The money we save by using cloth diapers is going into her therapy fund.

With Monkey, I haven’t noticed the bulk as much.  Probably because he didn’t have so many little-bitty outfits with tiny tights and stretch pants.  And I’m probably just used to the extra puff around his bottom.

3.  One extra thing to do.  When we moved in August my husband convinced me to buy a package of diapers for the little Monkey.  Just to have less thing to do while we moved.  I resisted.  (Because of my compulsive tendency to remain hell-bent on certain ideas, even when logic would dictate otherwise.  I also credit cheapness).  I finally bought some and it was nice to not have diaper laundry to do for a couple of weeks.  We’ve also bought disposables on vacations.  Again- one less thing to think about.

That being said, doing two extra loads of laundry a week isn’t much to add to your routine.  So yeah.  It is not too much of a pain to stop me from doing it.

LAUNDRY

Everyone has their own laundry system that works for them.  I’ll tell you what works for us.

We bought a Simple Human trash can with a heavy metal lid (not the plastic lid) that we keep in the kids’ room.  We have two cloth laundry bags that we bought at Target to rotate as liners in the trash can/diaper bin.  When it is a wet diaper, we put the entire cloth and fleece part into the trash can/diaper bin.  If it is dirty, we shake the poop off into the toilet (yes, this part gets gross sometimes.  Not going to sugar-coat it.  We have dealt more closely with poop than is ideal).  The dirty diaper then goes into the trash can/diaper bin.  The diaper cover goes into a basket and can be used again.  Usually the covers can be used for a couple of days before needing to be laundered.  Obviously, if it gets poop on it I just put it in our dirty clothes basket right away.  Obviously.  What kind of filthy mom do you take me to be?

Simple Human diaper bin on the right

When it is time to wash the diapers, I take the whole laundry bag out of the trash can/diaper bin and turn the bag inside out into the washing machine to empty all the diapers out.  Then:  rinse on cold with no detergent.  Second, hot water wash with about six squirts of Simple Green and about two tablespoons of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  Vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser every few washes.

We hang our diapers outside if it’s remotely nice or inside on the drying rack.  I think this has a lot to do with how well they’ve held up over the years (and another plus of having a large number of diapers- you can let them air dry and not have to hurry and put them in the dryer so they’re ready for use).  Hanging them outside also gets rid of the narsty poop stains that accumulate.  No joke- a few hours in the sun and they’re bright again.  Nature’s miracle.

If your child is breastfed exclusively, just toss the whole diaper (poop and all) into the diaper bin.  Breastfed poop is water-soluble, so you don’t even need to empty anything into the toilet.  Just launder it.

I’ve stripped our diapers maybe four times total since we bought them.  That’s what you do when they don’t seem to be working very well.  Sometimes it is because detergent has built up on them and they need to be stripped of the extra detergent.  Stripping basically involves lots of hot rinses to get that detergent out.

THE BIG FINISH

I’m feeling self-conscious that I’ve written over 1500 words about diapers.  And poop.  And said “breastfed”.  And “poop stains”.

Over and out, people.  Hope this is helpful to others considering the cloth.

14 thoughts on “A Child of the Cloth: Diapering that Tush

  1. Hey there
    I’m so glad you did this post. I have mother ease diapers too but must confess that I stopped using them midway with Carolyn because they were giving rashes to her and Brennan. The fleece idea is a great one. What kind of fleece and how thick and does it stay in place? This would be a great solution to my problem…Should I buy fleece at the fabric store? Thanks again for writing so many words about poop!

    • i think any kind of fleece is fine. we used a thin fleece blanket (cut up) and then also bought a piece of fleece to cut up from our fabric store here in c’ville. i just lay it on top of the liner or diaper and i haven’t had a problem with it staying in place.

      maybe heavy fleece would work even better, actually. i don’t know for sure- never tried anything but the thin kind.

  2. so glad you’ve enjoyed your diapers! i totally understand your frugalness and wanting everything in your home to have a use! and how adorable are your kids!?!
    and congrats on baby #3!!!!

  3. I must confess, I could not get by without a diaper sprayer. I asked for one about 4 years ago for Christmas and consider it one of the best Christmas presents EVER! No joke. Best. Gift. Ever.

  4. I almost heeded your warning and stopped reading. Glad I didn’t, because it was worth it- just to read this line, “The money we save by using cloth diapers is going into her therapy fund.”

    Ah. Good comedy.

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