Sweet Pea turned 17 months this week (I’ll stop counting at 18, I swear) which means that we have been cloth diapering for 16 months.
I am happy to say that I’m so glad I went this route and don’t regret my decision at all! However, there’s some information I wish I knew before I started. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way!
1) Velcro is a bad idea.
Velcro, hook & loop – whatever you want to call it – it’s not the best idea if you ever plan to have your little one running around without pants. (Oh the life!) I bought some Grovia hybrid shells which I was loving when she was younger. It made it easier for grandparents to change her because it operated like a regular diaper. Unfortunately, even though their velcro is actually some kind of super strong hook & loop, it is no match for my apparently nudist toddler who will not hesitate to undo the tabs. Sigh. Also, even after careful laundering procedures (folding in the “laundry tabs” and hanging to dry), the edges of the hook & loop are “curly” and no longer sit flat. If I put Sweet Pea in these I have to make sure she’s wearing something over top, ensuring that no one will ever see those cute patterns again, ever.
Looking up on the Grovia website I see that they have a “snap conversion program” in place to fix this very problem. However, it costs $8 USD per shell to convert from velcro to snap. With the terrible conversion rate right now, it means that modifying my Grovias will cost just as much as I paid for them brand new (thanks to some amazing “discontinued pattern” sales!). No thanks, I’ll just deal with it.
2) You aren’t obligated to cloth diaper full time.
In the beginning, I was lugging cloth diapers on day trips and errands. My diaper bag was stuffed to the brim (first time mom syndrome, I hear). I was bringing almost half my stash with me just to go pick up eggs! It also made getting ready to go out take that much longer, because I didn’t have a dedicated “travel stash” of cloth diapers meaning that it most definitely needed to be refilled every time we went out. It was such a hassle and with all my postpartum hormones still raging, I was overwhelmed and it was one less thing I wanted to deal with. So leaving the house = sposies.
We tried cloth overnight and it wasn’t bad. There were times where she’d wake up dry, so we were able to stick her on the potty right away and get all excited that she was peeing in the toilet. However, that all changed when I shifted my schedule to start waking up at 3 in the morning. When she woke up after that time, I’d have to quickly get her to sleep again. I didn’t want to risk waking her up completely by changing her diaper, so I eliminated that step by putting her in disposables at night. Easy.
To date, I’ve only purchased six cartons of diapers (one newborn, one size 1, one size 2, and I just bought my third box of size 3s – lots of vacations this summer!). And because I’m always on the lookout for sales, I’ve never paid regular price for any of them. In 17 months, I’ve only spent a little over $150 on disposable diapers! Not bad, right?
3) Dealing with poop is not that hard.
I know, I know. You’re afraid of dealing with the poop. But you know what? You’re supposed to deal with the poop!! Yeah. With disposable diapers, you’re actually supposed to dump solids into the toilet because landfills aren’t equipped to handle human waste. Check out that package of diapers. It’s on there. I never knew until I got pregnant!
I know it can get messy, but any little bit helps. If it rolls off, it rolls off. If your kid is laying down mortar instead of bricks, well… just do what you can.
Back to the cloth – it’s not as bad as it seems, especially if you use liners. I use micro fleece liners that I made myself. And by “made myself” I mean I purchased a yard of micro fleece from the fabric store for $5, cut it up into 11″x5″ rectangles, and then, …no and then. That’s it. The texture on the micro fleece doesn’t “grab” onto the poop as readily so it’s easy to just let it fall out into the toilet for the most part. For whatever doesn’t fall in, I just soak all the soiled inserts and diapers in hot water for a few minutes before throwing them in the washing machine. Everything goes away.
4) It’s just laundry. Dirty, dirty laundry.
Please for the love of your baby’s bum, do not listen to anything or anyone that tells you to wash your diapers with one tablespoon of washing soda and some vinegar. That is not enough to clean your diapers. You need proper detergent, and a bunch of it. You will not have to worry about “detergent build up” because unless you’re not running thorough rinse cycles, detergent build up can’t happen.
If you’re using soap or homemade detergent, you will have to worry about soap scum, buildup, and stink problems that comes along with that. Maybe not right away, but it’s a risk. I have personally used old-school powdered Tide from day 1, but use what works for you. You do not need to buy a specific gourmet brand of chi-chi detergent at $5/oz just because your diaper manufacturer says so, and please don’t! Spend your money on something else – like real detergent!
Your water level in your washing machine will make a big difference in the success of your fluff laundry. Learn the difference between soup, stew, and chili. When you look at your load in the washer, make sure you have enough water to make it look like diaper stew. This means you have enough water – not too much, not too little – and the fabrics are able to rub against each other well to scrub everything out on its own. If there is too much water (like a soup): there is not enough friction to get them clean. Too little (like chili), and it’s just swishing around your washer in a big dipey clump not really doing much. I have a top loader that you can’t see through, so when the pre-wash cycle is happening, I open the lid to see what’s going on. I can visually assess from there so that I know if I need to adjust the water for the full wash cycle. If you have a high-efficiency machine, you can throw in a towel (literally throw in the towel) to add more weight to the load so your machine dishes out a bit more water.
I do a hot pre-wash with a little bit of Tide, a warm wash with a lot of Tide (almost a full scoop), then a cold rinse. No second wash, no second rinse. It’s a good base routine that you can tweak as necessary. In the beginning, I was running second rinses but all I was really doing was wasting water. It wasn’t needed, and we’re just fine doing a single rinse.
Hang dry your covers, tumble dry everything else. Or hang everything. Just don’t put anything with elastics (or wool) in the dryer because the heat will weaken the elastics, and wool can’t go in unless you’re in the market for a diaper shaped trivet. No dryer sheets, no fabric softeners.
I did so. much. research. when deciding which cloth system to go with. I kept reading reviews of moms saying “don’t commit to one type so quickly. Try a bunch to see which ones you like better. See which ones fit your baby better, then build your stash.”
I wish I listened to them. I don’t have a problem with my setup right now, but I have about 48 bamboo inserts that have barely been used because I fell in love with prefolds. I use all of my covers – pockets and all-in-twos – as “shells” regardless of what they actually are, and just place the prefold and a microfleece liner on top. It’s been awesome. When she was smaller, I was an avid fan of the “bikini twist” – fold and it was unstoppable. I’ve also discovered AMP diaper covers which are a perfect fit on her, so I kind of wish my stash was made up primarily of those, but I can’t say that my current stash hasn’t served me well. At least the “never been used” inserts will up my resale value.
That’s right – you can sell (and people will buy) the diapers that your kids have outgrown. How do you like that ROI??
I can honestly say that cloth diapering has been both rewarding and beneficial for us. We’ve saved a ton of money already, didn’t chuck nearly as much diapers into the landfill, and she hasn’t had a diaper rash to boot. Not to mention that it’s just adorable having such cute patterns and bright colours all over her fluffy bum!
Do you have any discoveries to share? Are you thinking or undecided about cloth diapering? Let me know by leaving a comment!