Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: The First Two Months

If you'd told me almost a year ago, when I first learned I was expecting, that I was going to cloth diaper my baby, I wouldn't have believed you. I would have told you that I was frugal but not that frugal. My mom cloth diapered me and my brothers back in the 1980s and I've always considered her a sort of patient saint for doing it. Cloth diapers seemed good in theory but not worth the hassle. Plus, even if I wanted to, there was absolutely no way I would get my husband on board.

And now here I am, about to tell you all about what it's like to cloth diaper a newborn. Little baby Jonah is already two months old and quickly leaving the newborn phase. So, here's an overview of what worked, what didn't, what I would do differently, what I like, how my husband has fared, and all the other stuff in between.

{Note: I'm writing this assuming you know all the cloth diaper lingo. Cloth diapers have come a long way since our mothers and grandmothers used them. There are so many different types of diapers and accessories -- it can be overwhelming and confusing if you're not familiar with all of it. I will be writing more in-depth posts about cloth diapering in the future. For now, I'm just giving an insight into my routine and first-time experiences. Okay, moving on...}

The Gear

For the majority of the first two months, we used:
Quick Summary

We used disposable diapers for the first five or so days as we were busy adjusting to having a new baby in the house. We were sent home with tons of diapers from the hospital so we decided to use them.  After a few days (and with a little nervousness), we started using the cloth diapers during the day and the disposables at night. Once we ran out of the hospital and gifted disposables, I bought a package of them at the store. I was so tired at night and we were doing so many changes, it was just easier to do disposable. Once that small package of diapers ran out, I was starting to get the hang of it all, so we decided to go with cloth at night, too. 

During the day we use the prefolds and then the pocket diapers at night.  With the prefolds, we used the Snappi fasteners (they replace diaper pins and work sort of like an ace bandage clip does) to keep the diaper together under the cover; once Jonah got bigger and the prefolds were getting snug on him, we stopped using the Snappis and just used the cover to keep the prefold in place.

We haven't really used the diaper sprayer since it doesn't really do much with the...errrrr...consistency of newborn poo. The liners do really well catching most of it, so we just flush the soiled liners (wet liners can be washed and reused).  We've stopped using them, though, since the runny, seedy newborn poo just washes right out and there isn't much solid to catch. Ahhhh...a sure sign of parenthood: discussions about poo. 

When the diapers are wet and/or soiled, we spray them with Bac-Out (this helps with stains and odor) and stick them in the hanging laundry bag (we keep it on a hook on the bathroom door). I do a load of diapers just about every day. I rinse them in a cold or warm cycle, wash them with detergent and vinegar in hot wash/cold rinse cycle, and dry them in the dryer. It's been really rainy here so I haven't been able to use my clothesline all that much -- when I do, however, the sun magically removes any sign of stainage.

The Good

We bought all these diapers and accessories a few months before Jonah's arrival. Having spent a good amount of money getting all of our supplies, we were a little nervous that we'd hate it once we got started. Luckily, the transition to cloth hasn't been bad at all. Really. It's not nearly as hard, gross, or time-consuming as I thought it would be.  One day, as I was putting another load of diapers into the washing machine, my husband walked into the laundry room and said, "I honestly don't mind this."  We've both been surprised by how we've adjusted.

Our favorite diapers are the prefolds. This came as a huge surprise to us. I got them since they were so inexpensive (especially compared to the pocket diapers) and planned on using them during the day while Kevin was at work. When we'd discussed using cloth diapers initially, he agreed to it on the condition that we wouldn't use the prefolds.  Who would have thought that we'd both come to prefer them over the others? We've never had a leak with the prefold method. Not a single one. The Thirsties covers are great because they have double gussets at the legs that catch anything that leaks from the cloth. The prefolds are easy to clean and dry easily. I really like Green Mountain Diapers -- a review of their diapers to come in another post.

Other benefits: No diaper rashes (he only got them when we had him in the disposables at night). We haven't had to adjust our budget to cover diaper costs. When he pees or poops in a diaper ten minutes after we've changed him, I don't get that feeling like I've just wasted diaper. Plus, I feel all earth-friendly.

The Bad (or, at least, the most tiresome)

It's been a few years since we had a newborn in the house. I kind of forgot how much they pee and poo. With disposables, you go through plenty; cloth diapers have to be changed even more often. This translates to A LOT of diaper changes.

I'm not a huge fan of how bulky they are. They make getting pants on him a little harder (thankfully it's getting warmer and I can just put him in romper or a onesie without pants). It made his newborn-sized and 0-3 month clothes a little harder to fit. We've been putting him in 3-6 month clothes and the fit pretty well because of the diaper (and it doesn't hurt that he's a chunky baby -- as of this writing, he weighs in at over 13 lbs.). 

The Ugly

When we first decided to use cloth diapers, Kevin and I were sold on the pocket diapers. They seemed the easiest. The prefolds seemed like they would be a huge hassle -- the pocket diapers were the most like the disposables we were used to. Plus, I'd read some really good reviews about the Bummis Tinifit and Easy Fit diapers. They are well-made and wash really easily (the pocket insert is attached and comes out of the diaper by itself in the wash). So I shopped around and got some pretty good deals on them.  Still, they cost, on average, $12-15 a pop. I figured, though, that we would save the money and it was worth the expense. This is still true -- even if we went exclusively with pocket diapers, we'd still save a lot money.

However, the prefolds only cost $2 each AND we like them better. The pocket diapers, while nice enough, still leak if you don't change them in time. Like I mentioned earlier, we haven't had any leaks with the prefolds and covers. I like the pocket diapers for going out and they are easier to use in the middle of the night. For those reasons, I would still get a few of the pocket diapers, but not nearly as many, especially of the TiniFit ones.  Now that Jonah's bigger, we've started putting him in another brand of pocket diapers (along with the Easy Fit) I bought before we had him and we really like them, but, again, I wish I would have bought less of the more expensive pocket ones and bought more prefolds.

As of Now...

As Jonah has gotten bigger (and even cuter, I might add), we've had to order more prefolds in the next size up, the small size - I bought 10 of them, plus 3 Thirsties diaper covers (size small). The newborn prefolds fit for about six weeks. We got PLENTY of use out of them. He outgrew the TiniFit diapers around six or seven weeks, as well. We've started using the Bummis Easy Fit and Go Green Champ Diapers (reviews to come -- I really like the Champ diapers). During the day we use prefolds and we use the pocket ones at night.

The Verdict

Believe it or not, I prefer cloth.  If someone offered to give me disposables to use, I honestly would still go with the cloth. Granted, newborn diapers, though plentiful, are not very stinky and gross (breastfed baby poo doesn't even stink to me), so this could change as he gets bigger. For now, though, I like Jonah having cloth next to his skin instead of plastic. He hasn't had a diaper rash since we started using cloth exclusively. I like not throwing away hundreds of diapers and I LOVE not buying them every week. They take a little extra work and planning (as in, I have to carry arounda wet bag when we go out), but the savings and benefits make cloth diapering totally worth it to me.


Lauren said...

Thank you so much for this! My first baby arrives in September, and I'm planning on mostly using prefolds too (GMD organic). My shopping list looks almost like yours, except I want to try prefolds and wool covers for night too. I just recently heard about Bac-Out, so I'll probably get some to try out. I feel much more confident now that I'm on the right track.

Eco-novice said...

I used disposables for the first year of my first kid's life. After 3 yrs. now of cloth, I much prefer it.

A few thoughts:
IMO, you should not be using liners NOR a diaper sprayer with newborn poop. Breastmilk poop is totally water soluble. I did absolutely NOTHING about that poop and it always came out in the wash, You will have a little yellow staining though. Personally, I couldn't care less about stains.

I love fitted diapers with a newborn -- kissaluvs fitted size 0, to be specific, and then I use size 1 as well until they grow out of them. Then i switch to prefolds with covers (I don't fasten the prefold in any way first) -- which is super fast. I love the fitted with the young ones, even though it's an extra step during the diaper change, b/c they contain the pooplosions.

With my first child in disposables? 3 to 4 poops up the back A DAY-- no lie. With my second baby in cloth: ZERO poops up the back. It's true. For that alone, I love love love cloth.

Also the wipes (we use kissaluvs awesome wipes). I hate disposable wipes. So hard to use (I always end up with poop on my hands), and full of weird ingredients.

If you ever want to talk diapers, feel free to shoot me an email! I'm no expert, but I've done plenty of research and have lots of opinions. betsy at eco-novice dot com.

Heather said...

Yeah, we figured out pretty early on that we didn't need liners or the sprayer for newborn poo. But, since it was part of our newbie experience, I mentioned it. As for stains, I'm not that concerned either (they're diapers!! who cares?!), but when you hang them on the clothesline, they disappear.

And you're totally right about blowouts with disposables -- right up the back. We haven't had a single blowout with the cloth -- a few leaks with the pocket ones, but no leaks or anything with the prefolds.

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