Cloth Diapering: My Experience

Given my interest in old fashioned skills and natural living, when my baby daughter arrived, I thought I would give cloth diapering a try.

I had attempted cloth diapering once before, with my first baby, when he was about seven months old or so, but due to circumstances that arose, misconceptions I had, and mistakes I made, I quit after only a month.

But I was determined even then that it wasn’t going to be my last attempt.

So in 2015, with my fourth baby, I decided to give it a better trial. Here follows my experience with cloth diapering!

 

USING CLOTH DIAPERS

Capacity

When I was researching the subject, one of the biggest uncertainties I had was how long you could reasonably go between diaper changes. Some blogs I read suggested three to four hours, while others insisted on religiously changing cloth diapers every two hours. The latter just about scared me off of cloth diapering entirely! As a busy homeschooling mom, the thought of changing diapers every two hours religiously was overwhelming and impractical. What if I’m busy teaching for two hours, and then when I manage to slip away for a diaper change, I find the baby has fallen asleep? Do I then have to wake the baby for a diaper change? What if I don’t, and the baby sleeps for two hours? Would the cloth diaper have the capacity to last the four hours?

When I got the diapers, I experimented for the first week to determine the capacity. Happily, I found that the diapers I had purchased could manage up to six hours between changes if needed. I did do changes more often than that, but it was a welcome relief to discover that the diapers had the capacity in a pinch!

Fit

I used the Bummis Cotton Prefolds coupled with Thirsties diaper covers. The extra leg gusset on the Thirsties’ covers was a real improvement over the Bummis covers I used with my first baby.

I bought both kinds of Thirsties covers, velcro and snaps, and found that I much preferred the snaps. They were quick and easy enough for me, and didn’t require the guesswork I had with velcro in determining whether I had put the cover on too tight or loose.  (I also found that the velcro had a bit of a rough edge which would rub against the baby’s abdomen when she was sitting/bending over.)

The diaper’s good fit meant few leaks, and as an added bonus, I discovered that I had almost no blowouts with cloth, as opposed to the numerous blowouts I experienced with disposables. Score!

The one complication that arose was that the cloth diaper’s added bulk over slim disposables meant that it didn’t fit under some of the outfits I had. Carter’s brand was especially a problem, a brand which I otherwise love because of the good fit on my (relatively) slim babies.

Time Commitment

Another concern of mine that arose when I was toying with the idea of using cloth was whether individual diaper changes would take more time then a typical disposable diaper change. I couldn’t afford to spend an extra 5+ minutes for every diaper change.

This concern was quickly abated. I would fold the prefolds in advance (quick and easy job), and have them sitting ready in a basket on my diaper change table. The covers were close at hand in a dresser drawer. The cloth diaper pail with washable liner was right next to the change table.

When it came time for a change, the soiled prefold was removed and dropped straight into the diaper pail. The cover went there too if it was dirty; if only damp, it was hung to dry on a hook above the diaper change table. The clean prefold was placed on the clean cover, tucked under and over baby like a normal diaper, snapped in place, and we were good to go.

All in all, it was a matter of additional seconds per change, not additional minutes.

Other Notes

One additional aspect of using cloth diapers which I’ll mention is the issue of diaper rashes. Many cloth diaper sites will warn you not to use common diaper rash creams or ointments because the ingredients will coat your cloth diapers, causing issues with urine repelling, loss of capacity, etc., which in turn will lead to leaks or other problems for you and your baby. They recommend buying rash creams made specifically for use with cloth diapers. However, these tend to be hard to find, and rather expensive compared to commercial creams.

I then stumbled across this chart on pinstripesandpolkadots.com, which was super helpful. It listed a lot of diaper creams and their ingredients, then rated them for use with cloth diapers. Since I already had a few of the natural creams on the chart, I was able to just use what I had instead of buying some new cream. Also, I discovered that coconut oil by itself can make a decent barrier cream, with some added benefits for the skin, and it doesn’t cause problems with cloth diapers, as far as I know.

 

LAUNDERING CLOTH DIAPERS

Now for the tricky part. It’s easy enough to toss a soiled cotton prefold in a pail, but how do you clean it?

Brace yourselves….

I used my washing machine.

Yes, that’s what I said. No scraping, no dunking in the toilet, nothing. For a breastfed/bottle fed baby, the poop is water-soluble, and will wash away in your machine without leaving residue. Once the baby starts solids, then it’s a different story, but up until that point, your washing machine will do all the work for you.

Here’s what I did:

Every two days or so, I would dump the prefolds out of the pail liner into my top-loading machine, and if I needed to distribute them around more evenly, I would just grab a (relatively) clean corner of a prefold and toss it to the other side of the machine. The washable pail liner was thrown in too.

Typically it was a small load. I would let the diapers soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, then run a cold pre-wash (if I was in a hurry, I would skip the soak and just run a pre-wash). After that I would add Nature Clean laundry detergent (which I found recommended online as an economical, easy to obtain, and cloth diaper friendly laundry soap option), and run a hot wash with two rinses. The diapers would come out clean and fresh. I would hang them to dry. If I could, I would line dry them outside. The sun performed marvels in bleaching out the stains, and the diapers would typically be dry by the end of the afternoon.

 

CONCLUSION

So what’s the conclusion of the whole story? Well, I rather enjoyed the experience. The prints on the diaper covers were really cute, and I felt I had accomplished something good for my baby by putting her in cloth instead of wrapping her in some paper contraption with strange chemicals of some unknown toxicity.

However, the summer was really busy, and cloth diapering eventually fell by the wayside. I hadn’t purchased as many prefolds as I should have, and so laundering the diapers became a bit of a burden as I had to rush to wash them so I could have clean diapers for the next day.

Would I do it again? Yes. My hope is that with the next baby I’ll purchase a few more cloth diapers to make the laundry burden easier, and I’ll use cloth from the time I’m fully recovered from the birth (about 6 weeks) to about 6 months, Lord willing. I’m not quite feeling brave enough to continue cloth diapering past the point of introducing solids, as dealing with the “output” at that point will require a few more steps which would cost more time than I have to devote to the project. But you never know. We’ll have to see what the future holds and cross those hurdles once we get to them.

Best,

Kristin

 

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