Diapering your child in cloth used to be the norm. Now cloth diapering is done by those who want to save the planet, save lots of money, for medical reasons, or just to be more natural. Whatever your reason, starting a cloth diapering system can be overwhelming with all the choices now available. I hope this series of posts will help by explaining some of the different options and describing my own experiences.
My Story: I’m from a large family and all my siblings spent time in cloth diapers. That was really the only option for mothers then. My first son was a disposable diaper child. I loved the convenience and the freedom to just toss the diaper away when soiled. However, the price of the diapers hurt each time I went to the store, especially on a very tight student family budget. Also, the diapers STUNK!!! It didn’t matter if I used the diaper genie or whether I took each one to the outside garbage.
At one point, I decided to try out diapering like my mom did it. I went to the store, purchased some prefolds, diaper pins and rubber pants. It only took a couple days of insufficiently absorbent leaky diapers, hand swishing the diaper in the toilet, poking my fingers with the diaper pins because they were so difficult to get through the fabric, and annoying rubber pants, to get to the point were I just gave up. My oldest child finished his diaper career in disposables.
My next child started in disposables too. I had learned my lesson last time and wasn’t about to try cloth again. However, at three months, my baby had a diaper rash that just wouldn’t go away. I tried every kind of disposable, most every kind of cream, the doctor gave me prescription medication, and nothing helped. I became desperate, yet I still resisted the idea of cloth. There seemed no other alternative though, and so I began earnestly seeking information about new cloth diapering methods.
I had three requirements: I didn’t want to use pins, rubber pants, or put my hand in the toilet! Other than that, I was willing to try cloth diapering. I quickly discovered that there were so many options that met my requirements, it would be no problem.
First I purchased a used diaper set on Ebay. It included contoured diapers, fitted diapers with velcro attachments, a nylon diaper covers. I also purchased a Bummi bag diaper pail liner. I went to Walmart and bought a garbage can with a flip lid to use as the diaper pail. I also purchased vinegar, a downy ball (for vinegar, not fabric softener), and baking soda. I went to Babies R’ Us to buy Gerber’s EZ Liners so I wouldn’t have to swish diapers in the toilet.
At first I was overwhelmed by even the choices I had right then. I didn’t know how to start, especially for the night diaper. However, I decided the only way for me to figure it out was to jump right in and try it out. I put on my son’s first diaper and thus began his cloth diaper career. I was quickly assured that I had made the right decision, when after only a few hours of being in cloth, his diaper rash was noticeably getting better. I was convinced of my decision to do cloth.
Soon, I decided to make my own diapers since I needed more. I bought a basic pattern and made 30 one-size, velcro attached, fitted diapers. I mostly used fabric I already had. The diapers worked great, until my little one began to crawl and run.
It was then I that I truly began to appreciate prefolds and snappies. I put away all the fitted diapers and began exclusively using prefolds. I could get them on more securely and with less bulk than the other types of diapers. Friends who were now experimenting with cloth themselves, offered to let me try their deluxe cloth diapers. While very nice, I still preferred the prefolds in the end.
For the diaper covers, I used wool soakers almost exclusively. I liked how they allowed more air flow to my toddler’s sensitive skin. Also, because I made my own either by knitting or by sewing one together from an old wool sweater, wool soakers were much less expensive than others.
For diaper doublers, I used facecloths triple folded. At night I used at least two doublers. Sometimes, I used a fleece liner to wick the moisture away from his skin. The fleece liner was easily made from fleece fabric and simply cut to the desired width and length–no sewing needed. I placed the EZ liner on top of everything.
Also, ironically, I discovered that cloth diapers stank much less than disposables. Baking soda is an amazing odor destroyer. It also neutralizes the diapers and helps the diapers to rinse cleaner in the wash.
Leaving the house with cloth diapers was a little bit tricky, but soon I was able to work out those obstacles too. I would put together two or three diapers (prefold, doubler, liners), include an extra wool soaker, and make sure there were ditty bags (little water proof bags to hold a soiled diaper).
I plan to cloth diaper my next child. Cloth diapers are hardly more difficult than disposables and there are so many benefits in addition. Stay tuned for more information about cloth diapers, including definitions, websites to check out, and additional tips. Please leave your comments so that we can all learn for each other’s experiences!