Adventures in Cloth Diapering: The Good, The Not-So-Good and Everything in Between

About 10 months ago we welcomed our little Marlee into the world and had decided beforehand to go the cloth diapering route.  It seemed a natural choice for us since we had already chosen a midwife and were having our baby at home, that we would also choose diapers that were gentle and natural.  By that point we were used to all the criticisms and puzzled looks about our parenting decisions, and we knew we would be saving a lot of money with cloth diapers, so we just kind of smiled and shrugged off all the negative comments.  It helped tremendously that we knew a couple of families that had used cloth diapers with their babies and had really good experiences, and I think it is interesting that more people I know now are choosing or thinking about choosing cloth diapers for their babies.

unbleached prefold with snappi

What you’ll need

The world of cloth diapers can be a little overwhelming at first- even confusing.  It is definitely not the same as our grandmothers used, but I’d like to try and simplify it and encourage anyone thinking about using cloth diapers.  There are 3 basic kinds of cloth diapers: Prefolds, All-in-Ones (AIO), and Pocket.  Prefolds are like the kind your grandmother might have used, which require something to secure it closed and a waterproof cover.  AIO diapers are just like disposable diapers except you wash them instead of throw them away, and pocket diapers are similar to AIO except that you have a soaker pad that inserts in the diaper that you can take out with each change. (For a really extensive list on all types of cloth diapers and terms go here).

I found AIO and pocket diapers to be pretty expensive, especially since you’ll need anywhere from 18-30 diapers.  So at $15-$25 a pop that could really take a chunk out of your budget.  Unbleached Indian Prefolds ($1.90-$2.90 each) were what we chose because we didn’t want to spend a fortune, and actually we have been very happy with them!  A lot of people shy away from them because they think it will be complicated to fold it and secure it, but I have found that it really is very simple and the leakage protection is superb (compared to the AIO and disposable diapers that we have tried).  However a friend recommended Kushies brand AIO diapers to me and we liked those a lot too, and MUCH less expensive for a AIO.

Bulk pricing at the store we bought our prefolds at started at 25 diapers so we got 25 infant size (7-15lb) and 25 of the larger size (15-30 lb).  25 has been a good number because I don’t have to wash them every day but sometimes every other day.  You really don’t need more than 30 or so because then you end up washing them way too infrequently and trust me, that is NOT a good thing!  I wouldn’t wait more than 2 days before washing your cloth diapers.

The modern version of the safety pin is called Snappi.  They are great.  I’d get several though because I’ve already lost a few (probably ended up in the trash which is right next to the changing table.)  The other two must haves for cloth diapering are a waterproof wet bag (with a closure) to put your dirty diapers in and laundry detergent especially for cloth diapers (not the kinds you buy at the grocery store).  I really like Allens.  The 5lb powdered kind last several months, so even though its about $20 for one box, it lasts a really long time and a better value compared to the Allens liquid detergent.

Of course, you’ll also need some waterproof covers (if you’re going with prefolds) at least 2, but 3 or 4 is better.  You can reuse them, but if they have a particularly messy diaper (and sometimes they have more than 1 a day) you need to put it away to be washed with the diapers.  I have loved my Thirsties covers.  (Tip: Get the snaps- the Velcro closure on the covers tend to attract lint and hair and they all stick together in the dryer!)

wearing her Thirsties striped cover

Newborns and Nighttime

Marlee was almost 7lb when she was born and even though the infant size diapers were for babies starting at 7 lb they still swallowed her whole.  It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we could even attempt to put them on and have them fit OK (they were still big!)  That being said we did use disposable diapers at first, and I think it was a good thing because those first few days and weeks are challenging (to say the least) and I think it would have been hard adding in a cumbersome prefold and washing responsibilities.  Eventually she settled into them nicely.  She grew and it was after many episodes of leaks and struggling to fit them around her that I realized she was ready to move up to the next size, including new sized covers.

At first, we were up all day and night with her and changing her diaper frequently, but once she began to grow and sleep for longer periods of time through the night we noticed the cloth diapers were just not cutting it as far as absorption goes.  Cloth diapers don’t do well for babies who can sleep all night long or close to it, at least that is what we have found with the prefolds.  If you find yourself there you can do a couple things: double-up on the prefolds or use a prefold and a soaker pad in the middle OR use disposables at night.  We just decided to use disposables at night.  Cloth diapers need to be changed frequently because they lack the wicking properties of the technologically advanced disposable diapers.

Cloth Diapers and Clothes

As you can imagine, cloth diapers are bulkier than disposable diapers, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when buying all those adorable outfits you know you must have.  It helps to have clothes in a size up from where they are at, but really truly every baby is different so this may not even apply.  Some babies are very petite and some are chunky monkeys!  Marlee is a little chunker and has been wearing 12 month clothes for a while now, but I’m so glad she’s a girl because I can just put a dress on her and not have to worry about her bulky cloth diaper at all!  Cold winter days have proved to be difficult though because it’s so hard getting pants to fit her!  In that case we’ll just use a disposable.  We try to be flexible.

Onesies that snap at the bottom can be challenging as well since it might not fit around her and the cloth diaper, or it might be tight.  We had received a whole bunch of plain white onesies (we didn’t know if she was a boy or girl) and when she was little and the cloth diapers were still so big on her, I just cut off straight across at the bottom of the onesie to get rid of the snaps.  Then she ended up having a bunch of little white t-shirts.  This helped a lot!  

Breastfeeding

Breastfed babies are a joy in so many ways!  One of which is that their diapers don’t smell as much as non-breastfed babies.  Also the mess on their dirty diapers does not have to be “pre-cleaned” before you wash it.  Just do one cycle in your washing machine of a cold rinse (no soap) and then when its done turn it to hot and add your cloth diaper detergent.  No pre-soaking in a wet bag and no swishing around in the toilet!  Just another great thing about breastfeeding!

Is it worth it?

I would say yes, it is.  We sort of use both disposable and cloth and I know we could save even more by only using cloth, but you kind of have to keep your sanity too.  There are days though, when she goes through so many diapers and I am SO glad I don’t have to run out and buy another big box of diapers.  It really is nice.  And as far as the “ew” factor- it’s not a big deal.  Your husband will most likely say otherwise, but as a Mama, it’s nothing.  

If you are considering cloth diapering, I hope this has helped you in some way!  And we are still learning!  If you have any great advice about cloth diapering, feel free to comment and let me know!

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healing for winter hands

For some reason, winter in southeast Texas always takes me by surprise.  What, winter means its cold outside?? I didn’t sign up for this!  Here we are used to hot hot weather and 150% humidity, burning our skin on the leather seats of our cars and days where it is actually too hot to swim in a pool.  But those days are not here yet, and this “arctic blast” as everyone is calling it, is taking its toll.

People up north would think we are nuts.  It’s like we literally don’t know what to do in cold weather.  The rolling black outs have not helped either.  Stores and street lights were shut down, and people are talking about getting off of work early because there might be a possible chance of some sleet or (gasp!) maybe snow.  While I am nestled snugly in my house with no real need to be outside in the cold weather, my skin is somehow still reaping the effects of this very dry cold spell.  Lotions and creams do pretty much zip when it comes to this kind of dry skin weather, so I made up an extremely easy remedy that really helps.

All you’ll need is about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (any kind, even almond oil) and about 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar.

Mix together to form a kind of paste.  Wet your hands slightly and take any jewelry off.  Coat hands and gently massage working the scrub and oil especially over fingers and knuckles.  The oil is a perfect moisturizer and the brown sugar is a great scrub to get off any dead skin cells (plus it just smells yummy!)  Rinse under warm (NOT HOT) water until all is off, but don’t use soap and don’t try to get all the oil off either.

Yay! You’re done, and for me this helped so much.  The oil really sinks in and acts like a moisturizer but I followed up with a very thick cream or emollient on my hands afterwards.

So while this cold weather might last a couple more days, at least your hands will never know it!

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