Okay, I’m a huge fan of cloth diapering. First, I hate buying things just to throw them away, especially when the cheap ones are $0.35 each! And then you add in the wipes, the filling of landfills, all the chemicals in contact with a baby’s skin…
So, I was thinking about how I got here. With my first baby, I was all about what was easy, convenient, and easily accessible. Cloth diapers were in the historical fiction books I read, and they were the icky cloths that my mom used to clean the house…and I’d heard the stories of those plasticky covers she’d used.
With my second, after experiencing the large monthly cost of diapering a baby 2-3 years, I think I would have re-thought the idea, especially if someone else washed them for me. Who wants to add washing diapers on top of all the laundry already at home while also working full time?
And then I went on my “journey” of 2010-2011 when I was really wanting another baby, but was really convicted of how I “played god” in the timing of my kids. I have always dealt with irregular cycles (PCOS) and so when it came to having kids, I had Dr involvement both times in getting pregnant. I started out by researching naturally treating PCOS and increasing fertility. I had always used the fertility awareness method, which was how I discovered my PCOS, but I learned about real food, cutting out processed “food”, chemicals, etc. With these searches, of course I stumbled upon women who are even more “extreme” than I am now, and most of them cloth diapered.
I’ve always held the belief that we should take care of the world God gave us. While I think the basis and focus of the green movement is different than mine, the motivation is the same. I’ve always recycled (though I’m more diligent now) and am all about reusing (basic frugality), but the idea of over 10% of landfills being filled with diapers appalled me. And then all the chemicals involved, the poor biodegrading, etc.
But cloth diapers. Poop. Plastic covers. Poop. Swishing in the toilet. Laundry. Poop!
Then I realized that many of my friends cloth diapered. I saw their pictures of the cute covers. I actually saw many of them changing diapers in the church nursery. I started clicking on the links they shared and actually read about them.
The whole idea didn’t sound too bad, especially in the first few months when babies only drink milk so everything is water soluble. And then they make these cool flushable liners, so that when your big baby poops, you just drop it all in the toilet, no swishing. And if you do need to rinse it, they have these cool attachments for your toilet that you can spray them with (and there’s more uses to it too…rinsing potty chairs, cleaning the bathtub, washing the dog, postpartum care).
But the up-front costs were scary, especially for the fancy all in ones. With these, you have a diaper that you insert an absorbable liner into. Basically, you need to have a cover and liner for every change. They’re great for when you’re first starting (especially if you have a squeamish dad), because you just treat it like a disposable diaper and toss it all into the pail. But I’m cheap, that didn’t sound like any type of savings since I’d have to not only buy more covers, but have to keep buying bigger sizes as my kids grew.
I personally use a combination of adjustable covers (flip is my favorite but I also use econobums. Both adjust from 8-35lbs), and sized covers (I use thirsties). I use unbleached try-folds (basically what you use as burp cloths, just more absorbable and no chemically processed fabric on your babies bottom) and put them inside the cover. Unless the insert doesn’t catch everything, I just dump the insert into the diaper pail and put a new insert inside. I can usually go with just 2-3 covers a day.
As far as wipes, I use cloth wipes as well. When you’re using disposables, you wipe up the baby, fold it all into the diaper, and throw it all away. It’s the same concept, except you wash these as well. I use a combination of store bought wipes and home-made ones. They’re basically a cut up receiving blanked with the sewed hems. If you’re not crafty, you probably have a crafty friend or relative who could make you some like I did. When I’m at home, I have a spray bottle with homemade wipe solution that I spray on the dirty rear and wipe clean with a dry cloth. For travel I keep a portable wipe container filled with 6-8 wipes pre-moistened. Addition: I now find it much easier to just trow dry wipes in with my diapers and keep a small spray bottle of solution in there. I find that wiping a wet bum with a dry wipe works the best.
And as far as storing the dirty diapers, that’s not as bad as I thought either. You can get these nice pails designed for cloth diapers that have a charcoal insert to allow air flow into the pail so it doesn’t get stagnant, but prevents the smell from escaping. And they also have an area to hold an air freshener. And the whole lid snaps tight. And then you can get these washable liners that you just pull out of the pail, dump into the washer, and throw in to wash with the rest of the diapers. I have 2 so that I can rotate them while washing. And for your diaper bag they make wet bags to hold the dirty ones. I have one that has an outside pocket to hold your clean diapers and wipes. Mine is big enough to hold 4-5 clean diapers, the wipe container and 2 extra covers. They make big ones you can use for extra diaper stations throughout the house or for weekend trips away from home.
As far as washing them, it’s honestly not that bad. I have enough diapers that I only have to wash them twice a week. As long as your baby is not eating solids or you’ve already disposed of any poop, you just dump it all in. I use home-made laundry detergent (my recipe). When switching over to the dryer, make sure to pull out all the covers and the diaper pail liner to air dry…only your inserts and wipes should go in the dryer. If you have any persistent stains, don’t bleach them. All you have to do is let them air dry in the sun. This is best outdoors, but if it’s too cold, a sunny window will work. The sun will naturally bleach the diapers, and this works for spit up stains as well. They look brand new after 2 hours in the summer!
And let me tell you, I love the internet. If I have any questions about diaper rash, different covers, how to use equipment, techniques in washing, video tutorials, whatever, I can find answers with a simple google search. Honestly, that’s how I got here in the first place.
So, now that you’ve read my post, please answer my poll. I’ve been thinking about starting a diaper washing service to help moms who want to cloth diaper and either don’t have the time or ability to wash diapers themselves or just don’t want to. I want to know if this is even a desirable service. Also, let me know in the comments if there’s anything else I can post about that might help out new cloth diaperers. FYI, I’ve only done my 3 month old’s diapers (breastfed) and a foster baby’s diapers (formula fed). I have yet to experience a solid food eater’s diapers, though I have several friends who have.