Monday, January 17, 2011

Eco-Friendly Diapering Part 2: Cloth Diapering

Little Man in his Flips
When I think about my choices in how I handle the day to day with Little Man and what these choices mean in the present and in the future, this is probably one of my favorite choices I've made.  Due to his latex allergy these diapers really help because most manufacturers don't use it in their construction and if they do it is covered by other water-proof material.  Cloth diapering has come a long way since my grandparents diapered.  When I told my mom that I wanted to cloth diaper Little Man she told me that I would have made my grandmother very happy.  Apparently my grandmother wanted my mom to cloth diaper us but my mom said disposables were going to be her one luxury.
 You can check out the evolution of cloth diapering in America on The Green Baby Guide.  The many advances in diapering still coexist today with the tried and true methods of the past, all of which can be quite confusing and overwhelming when you are just starting out.
When I decided to cloth diaper I made sure I did my research.  I had to do the research for two reasons: 1) I needed to make sure I wasn't getting in over my head and 2) I had to convince hubby that this was a good choice for us and that he should be on board.  I got a few leads from a message board as to where to start my cloth diaper research, but one of them proved to be my go to resources,  It had all the lingo, sales leads, links to retailers, a forum for questions, reviews on every diaper or accessory and the ultimate hubby convincing tool - the Cloth Diaper Savings Calculator!!!!  They have since updated it to include the cost of the Diaper Genie refills and how that cost adds to the cost of disposable use.  When I showed hubby the bottom line that we could save enough money over the lifetime of diapers to buy a really nice hubby toy - and that we could save even more money by reusing the same diapers with the next child if we bought quality and took care of them - he was sold.
Now back to the first condition I had for switching to cloth - would I be in over my head?  I made this decision when Little Man was around 4 months old - I was on maternity leave and would be out of work until school began in September - giving me two months to figure this out and get into a rhythm.  I decided that I would jump in and give it a shot.  There are online stores that would let you try a number of different diapers to see what worked for you and then gave you store credit to purchase the diapers you wanted.
The stores that carry cloth diapers typically run really good sales and have rewards programs that you earn points toward free fluff.  Fluff or stash is how cloth users refer to their diapers.

The Diapers

Now to tackle the question of what diapers I chose and what I feel they work best for.  When I started this process Little Man was ebf (exclusively breastfed) so his poop was ideal for cloth diaper washing as it was water soluble and no need for rinsing or scraping if it got on the cloth.  Now with the addition of solids - it is a little more time consuming but there are products that will help with that as well.  I decided to get three types of diapers to start - Flips (a two part, one-size, hybrid diaper) and Bumgenius (a pocket, one-sized diaper) both by Cottonbabies and regular unbleached cotton prefolds and Blueberry covers.  I loved all for varying reasons and have adjusted over time which I use on a regular basis and for what purpose.

A bamboo fitted Mama made
under a Flip Cover
The Flips were really my ideal, this is what I want to use exclusively diaper.  They are a hybrid insert diaper.  It is a one-size option that grows with baby by adjusting the snap settings and insert folds.  You have three insert options available to you to use for different purposes.  The stay-dri insert is a microfiber insert with a soft layer of material that goes against baby's bottom and an absorbent layer that sucks up all the moisture.  You need to be careful not to put the wrong side against baby because it will dry out the skin.  It has two pre-sewn sections to allow easy folding to adjust the size setting.  This is my everyday option.  They also have an organic cotton insert.  It is similar to a prefold and depending on how you fold it you can use it for the different size settings.  It is really soft and very absorbent and excellent for overnight use alone or as a booster for the stay-dri.  The third option is the disposable insert option.  I originally thought I would use this option for going out or on long trips but I have yet to find the need to do so.  The cover is reusable until it is soiled - either by poop or by becoming really saturated with urine.  I rotate two during the day and wipe the used one off and leave it out to dry for the next change.  I really feel now that if I were to do this all over and had to pick just one diaper this  
                                                               would be it.
The Bumgenius diapers were the diapers I was sending Little Man to daycare in and well as using for the overnight option.  They are in the class of pocket diapers - you slide the insert into a pocket and it stays put inside the cover.  The inserts are made of the same absorbent fabric and it comes with two a thin one called a newborn or doubler and then the main insert with pre-sewn folds and snaps to adjust size.  They are inside the pocket so there is no worry of putting it on the wrong way.  This is an excellent choice for caregivers and daycares because you can prepare them ahead of time and they are one time use and then go in the laundry.  The pocket also offers you the option of changing the absorbency level by using either of the two inserts or both at the same time.
I could have stopped there at these two options because they do everything I could possibly need a diaper to do.  But I'm the type if I'm going to do something I need to see if I can really do it so I had to have a few prefolds and covers.  These are the classic cloth diapers that involve folding and pinning and if you checked out the first link were a step up from cloth diaper flats.  They now have a product called snappies that do away with the need for pinning and possibly pricking yourself or baby.  I loved these when Little Man was ebf but I wouldn't dream of doing these with a baby on solids or a formula baby - they become a mess with poop.  There are great tutorials on how to fold the diapers and which works best for your baby.  The newspaper fold - no need for pins, the poop-pocket fold - great for boys and the twist - best for girls.  The Diaper Jungle-Adventures in Cloth Diapering has a great pictorial instructional on all three folds.

The Extras

Wearing a Cloth Swim Diaper in the pool with his Pop Pop.
I cannot see myself dunking, or rinsing or scraping poop from these or any diaper. So my one recommendation is to get cloth diaper liners.  These are paper like liners that catch poop and allow pee to go through but not come back on baby.  I've tried Bambino Mio liners and Kushies diaper liners both of which are flush-able.  The Bambino Mio I got online from Target.  I loved their size but they were $13.00 for 200 sheets.  I tried the Kushies next from BabiesRUs $24.99 for three rolls of 100 sheets, but you can find them on Amazon for $8.99.  I did not like the Kushies because they were not wide enough, resulting in me having to use two over-lapped in the diaper to ensure all of the poop would be caught.  I have ordered some Grovia liners $10 for 200 sheets, the reviews said they are excellent and over-sized.  I checked the measurements from their site and they are definitely wide enough so I can use one at a time. They should arrive tomorrow so I will post an update on my impressions.
I store my diapers using the dry-pail method.  I have a water-proof liner in my diaper pail and put the diapers in there to wait for the wash.  I typically run a diaper wash every 2-3 days.  I started with an old washing machine with no bells or whistles and had a system of cold wash with very little detergent, then a hot wash with same amount of detergent then a second regular wash with no detergent.  I tumble dried the inserts and hung the pail liner and covers to dry.  Now I have a top loader he machine and I can set the wash to do a cold presoak, hot wash and extra rinse.  The cycle takes an hour and fifteen minutes and the diapers come out really clean.  I tumble dry now with dryer balls and it really fluffs up the inserts.  Remember DO NOT use any fabric softener, dryer sheets or any detergent with whiteners, brighteners or bells or whistles.  Adding anything to your diapers can make them stink or irritate your baby's skin.  If you have any stains on your liners you can hang them in the sun to bleach them out.

Side Note

When Little Man started daycare there was a "seconds" sale at Grovia and I picked up three GroBaby diapers.  GroBaby was the original name for Grovia.  The company has since improved the design of their diapers.  I got their hybrid diapers to compare with the Flips.  They only use organic cotton and the inserts snap into the covers.  The cover is reusable just like the Flips and they also have the option of the bio-degradable insert.  I honestly haven't used these diapers to their full-potential since I fell in love with my Flips.  Other cloth diapering mommies I know do love Grovia and use them daily.  I will forewarn though, the bio-degradable inserts are not completely bio-degradable or flush-able - which is why I have avoided them.
There is an option to purchase a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet to wash off the solids before you put them in your pail.  There are quite a few tutorials on YouTube to make them yourself as well.
I hope this may have helped some of you and if you have questions please feel free to ask them.  If I haven't come across them already myself - I probably have already helped a friend through it before.

Note: These are my opinions and I have received no compensation from the products or manufacturers I have listed here. 

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