cloth diapering

first post about child care, i’m sure not the last

i suppose in some households the debate as to if we should cloth diaper or not would take some time – but in ours, it was a given.  the only debate was if we should try elimination communication, but it seemed unlikely that it would work well with two working parents with plenty of other things to do, and places we wanted to go.  we felt we would likely end up covered in shit and piss.

trying to decide what sort of diapers to use was a little more overwhelming.  anyone who has thought about cloth diapering in the last ten years will know that it is vastly more complex that when i was running around and soiling my drawers.

in the end we decide on prefold diapers which are little more than absorbent rectangles of cloth with a thicker area in the middle for extra absorbance.  part of the reason for this was the cost – they are cheaper than just about any other cloth diapering method.  another reason is that we have several friends that were also using prefolds, and so we could get their hand me downs as their children outgrew them, and we could pass them on to others as our child out grew his.  in the end between gifts and hand me downs/trades, we have not had to purchase any diapers.

another advantage to prefolds is that they function for other purposes, we use diapers for burp clothes, and when they fail to work as a diaper they can be used for cleaning and as rags.

the prefolds work well, though for overnight when you don’t want baby to be waking up or to be too wet while they sleep,  throwing a doubler in helps quite a bit, as does using a fitted diaper with the doubler thrown in.

prefolds come in a variety of sizes, and we managed to avoid the extra expense of newborn diapers by simple folding down the top edges of small diapers inward to make them work on our kid – though he was a pretty big boy at 8 pounds 10 ounces.

prefolds need to be fastened in some way using the more classic diaper pin, or the slightly less scary snappy.  the prefolds are plenty absorbent, but they don’t keep moisture from soaking into clothing or bedding, you need a water proof cover.  these come in a variety of styles some one size, others are adjustable (the adjustable are a better deal, though some effort to get fitted properly) - these too we received as hand me downs, trades, and gifts.  our favorites are hand knitted wool covers which in addition to keeping clothing dry, also are absorbent and breathable, making them better for babies, skin.  we tend to use these for overnight. with any cover you use, you need to make sure that the diaper cover covers all of the cloth diaper – otherwise they will leak.

dealing with wet diapers is one thing – soiled diapers is another.  for these you need to take a few more steps. you need to wipe baby clean, some of this can easily be accomplished by using the diaper itself as you remove it, but there is also the fine detail work to be done.  for this you need wipes – which traditionally are disposable, but since you are using cloth diapers, why stop there? s while nesting before birth sewed reusable wipes  from scrapes of flannel she had left over from other projects.  we moisten them in water and keep a couple in a pencil box ready to use.  wash them along with the diapers.

once the kid is cleaned up and the new diaper on you still have to deal with that nasty soiled diaper.  we have a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet that you spray down the diaper with. and then wring it out.  this does mean that you pretty much can’t avoid squeezing out shitty diaper water.  it’s kind of gross, but it’s yr bundle of joy’s shitty water right?  soiled and wet diapers need to be stored in a waterproof container so they don’t get other stuff wet or soiled.  we have a trash can lined with a wet bag.  it’s really good to have two for laundry time, so you have one to fill up while you are washing the other.  the more classic method for cleaning diapers is simply to dip them in the toilet repeatedly to get the poop off and them wring them out.

we have a travel wet bag with two compartments, one for dry diapers, and one for wet diapers – as well as a smaller wet bag that we put wipes in.

when washing the diapers we toss them in to the washer, as well as the wet bag that housed them.  we wash them once in cold and them a second time in hot water.  we shouldn’t have to do this, but our washer is pretty much a piece of junk – hopefully soon our new washer will be installed and it will just be one wash cycle we have to do.  we use our home made diaper soap.

diapers take a long time to dry in the dryer, so any chance you get to dry them outside take.  putting them out in the sun also helps to bleach them and get out the stains.

certainly reducing our negative environmental impact was a reason for wanting to cloth diaper, but it also saves money, on average 1-2 thousand dollars including cost for washing.  we had almost no upfront costs, so we are saving even more than that.  for those that don’t have the luxury of lots of friends to trade diapers with, craigslist and mom to mom sales are full of diapers at very fair prices.

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3 responses to “cloth diapering

  1. Brings back memories of using cloth diapers in the early to mid 80′s and using washcloths for cleaning their behinds.. Anyway, if I had the chance to do it all again, I would do it the same way. Not sure if you have a new washer already picked out, but I know a guy, I’ve used for years, who has a home business that I use for washer repairs and when I need a new reconditioned washer/dryer. Let me know via email if you’d ever like his name/phone#. Last but not least, many congratulations to you and your wife on your son;)!

  2. Hi Patrick,
    great post! And congrats on your baby boy!
    We use cloth diapers in our household for our son too. We have the pocket diaper with inserts. I also make diaper spray and we use cloth wipes too. I really like our diaper system (except for the toilet rinses, we never got the sprayer and now that our son is eating table foods we wish we had) and think its easy and reliable. It was and is very cheap because some of our diapers were hand me downs and the rest were gifts. I cannot fathom buying disposables at this point, it just seems so costly and wasteful.
    Good tip on the wool cover, the only issue we have with leaks is overnight…

  3. This has to be one of my favorite posts from a Dad!!

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