Tuesday, May 26, 2009

8 Month Cloth Diaper Review

This post has taken me 5 months to finish. I started it as a "Three Month Cloth Diaper Review." I'm actually glad that I didn't have time to complete the post 5 months ago because things have changed with our cloth diapering since then. At the time I thought I had it all figured out, but now I REALLY have it all figured out. Sorta.

The idea for this post came from other cloth diaper reviews that I read while I was making the decision to use cloth for Evie. I found Amy and Linda's cloth diaper reviews extremely helpful.

I am aware that I have a few different audiences for this post, so I've organized it to address everyone's needs/interests/questions.

To those of you who don't cloth diaper, never intend to do so and have no interest in reading about it: Hi! See you next post.

To those of you who have a theoretical interest in cloth diapers but don't plan to use them and don't use them now, here are some general tidbits:

*For most cloth diaperers these days, the economical argument is a big fat lie. With all of the cute patterns, new and improved styles (velcro!) and organic materials (bamboo, hemp), the cost to diaper one baby in cloth is usually as much as, if not more than, the cost to diaper with disposables. In order to make the economic argument work, you need to buy basic cotton diapers, avoid the trendy and $$ wool covers and/or use the diapers for more than one baby. Even if you plan to have four kids, if you buy trendy diapers you may still not save a lot of money because the old-fashioned, less expensive diapers tend to hold up to multiple babies better than the newer styles. Most of the reason for this is the elastic, velcro and plastic snaps in the newer types of diapers, which tend to give out and need repair after awhile, especially if they are one-size diapers that are washed every other day for two years with your first child.

*Cloth diapering does require more hands-on experience with baby poo. This happens right from the start with formula-fed babies because their poop doesn't dissolve in the washing machine the way EBF (exclusively breast-fed) baby poop does. Even if you EBF, once your baby starts solids you will have to start figuring out a way to get the poo from the diaper into the toilet and flushed before washing the diaper. I and many other CDing moms use this, a diaper sprayer:

It is basically the same as the sprayer next to your kitchen sink, but hooks up to the clean water supply that flows into the toilet so that you can use that water to spray poo from a diaper into the toilet. It's the same idea as a water pik, for those of you who had braces. I bought one of these pretty early on; I don't think I'd still be cloth diapering today if I hadn't. Yuck.

*However, cloth diapering protects you from dealing with baby poo in one important way. Many cloth diapers have real elastic in them, as opposed to the fake elastic in disposables, so they hardly ever have poop leaks. Seriously. I can count the number of poop blowouts that Evie's had in her cloth diapers on one hand. Even when she was a newborn the cloth diapers kept that poo contained amazingly well. When we switched to disposables for traveling, however, it was a different story. By using disposables when we traveled I just ended up washing poopy baby clothes instead of poopy diapers.

*One perpetual debate is whether cloth diapers are really better for the environment than are disposables. Here is an article that addresses the question. Personally, I feel good about the environmental impact of Evie's waste products. Her poop gets flushed, just like an adults. Her pee goes into the sewer (with the wash water), just like an adult's. Because we have a high-efficiency washing machine, a couple of extra loads each week doesn't seem like a big deal to me. If it's nice weather we dry the diapers on a clothesline in the backyard, saving the electricity that a dryer would use. Most of Evie's diapers are hemp, bamboo or organic cotton, so the materials don't have a big impact on the environment.

*The biggest drawback of using cloth diapers, in my opinion? Modern baby clothes aren't designed to go over them. From day 1 in cloth, Evie has needed one size up on the bottom in order to accommodate her fluffy bum and even sizing up isn't a perfect solution because the larger sizes will fit her fluffy hips but gape at the waist and hang inches below her little toes, needing to be rolled up. I get so excited when we travel because she gets to wear cute outfits over disposables that she never wears otherwise! It's sad that I feel this way, I know.

*One last note for those of you with hypothetical interest. In addition to velcro, plastic snaps and the old-fashioned pins, there is another way to fasten a cloth diaper. I know, isn't this fascinating information? :) Here it is, it's called a S*nappi:

The purple parts (of course they come in many colors, for whatever reason) are made of a rubbery, stretchy plastic and each of the 3 tabs has hard plastic teeth on the underside. The teeth grip into the fabric of the diaper and hold it closed. Because the colored parts are stretchy, one snappi works on almost any size baby. (In the picture, Evie is 3 months old because that's when I started working on this post.) (For those of you who care, she's wearing a small BabyKicks Hemparoo prefold.)

Moving on...

For those of you who are dipping your toes into cloth diapering but are still learning, here is my top 10 list of advice. For more info or details, feel free to e-mail me. I never tire of chatting about cloth diapers. Sad, I know.

10. Buy a diaper sprayer. Seriously. Don't argue with me. See above for more info.

9. Once you've figured out your wash routine, write it down step by step onto an index card and tape it on the lid of the washing machine, so that your friends and family can help you with the diaper laundry and you don't have to worry that they are messing it up!

8. Always check the contents of your diaper pail before you wash. If you have diapering helpers, or if you're sleep-deprived, you may find that there are disposable diapers, baby clothes and worst of all, WOOL in your pail. You don't want to wash any of that with the diapers, believe me. Almost every mom who uses wool diaper covers has a story about shrinking an expensive, hand-knit cover down to doll size by accidentally washing it in hot water with the diapers.

7. Don't buy pocket or all-in-one diapers with cotton or other absorbent material on the outside (over the waterproof layer). It may seem nice and cozy to have a soft material on the outside, but that material is prone to wicking moisture from the inside of the diaper onto the baby's clothes.

6. Don't buy all-in-one diapers. They take FOREVER to dry. I'm talking a full cycle in the dryer plus two days air drying in the house or two full days on a clothesline. Not worth it. Try a fitted diaper with a cover, instead.

5. Don't buy used pocket diapers from an online site like D*iaperswappers. Almost every single used pocket diaper I've bought on that site has had leaking issues. Feh.

4. Use cloth wipes. If you're washing cloth diapers anyhow, washing cloth wipes is no big deal. The benefit, besides cost savings over disposable wipes, is that they clean up a lot better. I normally use one wipe for a pee diaper and two for a poopy diaper, whereas when we're traveling and I'm using disposable wipes I usually end up using 4 or 5 for a poopy diaper. The disposable wipes just aren't sturdy like cotton is. We keep ours in a wipes warmer. I buy concentrate to make the solution that I pour over them, but there are recipes online to make your own solution, too:
3. Stinky diaper pail? Try eliminating microfiber from your diapering because it tends to hold stink. For nighttime diapers that reek in the morning, sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch baby powder in to the pail. Also, leave the pail open, without a lid. That way the smell slowly dissolves into the air and disperses instead of hitting you like a brick wall when you open the pail to add a diaper. Here's our open pail that doesn't stink up Evie's room:

2. Poop comes off/out of fleece much more easily than other materials, so go to a fabric store and buy some cheap fleece remnants. Cut them into the shape of your diapers. No sewing, hemming, etc., is needed, since fleece doesn't unravel. When you are folding diapers out of the laundry, just put a fleece liner in each one so that it's there when you are ready to put it on your baby. After disposing of the poo, just wash the liners with the diapers. Works for us.

1. Don't judge cloth diapering based on what it's like to cloth diaper a newborn. Newborns are scrawny, so many diapers don't fit. They poop constantly, which is extra work with cloth. They eat constantly and therefore also pee constantly, so you feel as though you are changing their diapers every hour they are awake. They also sleep a lot, so when they wake up their diapers are completely soaked (from the constant eating) and you feel like a terrible mother for letting your baby sleep in such a wet diaper. If this stuff gets to you, just use disposables for your newborn and wait until they are over 10 pounds to start using cloth.

For those of you who have plenty of experience cloth diapering, I have some questions for you:

*Why is it that the prints on Muttaqin diapers hold up in the wash so much better than Goodmama prints do? I haven't been able to find anyone who can answer this question.

*Whenever I try to use pins on prefold, I end up with wing droop. Anyone have advice for me?

*I use ecover fabric softener in the wash with my diapers, but I've been told not to use it for anything with pul. Does anyone use ecover with pul without a problem? I can't figure out how it would hurt it.

*What other tips or tidbits would you like to add to mine? Please share in a comment!


  1. My mommy cloth diapered me as a baby, but wow they sure look a lot cuter today! A diaper sprayer...lol!

    (And yes, I too cry at the end of that book every time!)

  2. We Cloth diaper using mainly prefolds and covers with pockets for overnight. I use cloth wipes sometimes, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to pour the solution over all of them and leave them in the warmer, or use the solution as needed. What do you do?
    I got the wing from pins, too. I just stick with snappis. :)

  3. +Chappell3: we keep a peri bottle of wipes solution (pre-mixed with tap water and concentrate) next to the wipes warmer. Whenever the wipes run out we just grab another handful of them, put them in the warmer and squeeze 1/2 the peri bottle into the bottom and 1/2 into the top, shut the lid, done! It's nice to get a solution concentrate that has antibacterial properties, like tea tree oil, if you go through the wipes slowly and they'll be sitting for a few days, since mildew can grow in a warm, dark, moist place like a wipes warmer. We don't use the "pillow" that came with the warmer because it got mildew right away.

  4. Hey Karen,

    This was very helpful...thanks! Have you used the flushable liners for poop at all? One thing I would like is a list of the specific brand names and/or web sites you have used for your supply. So far I've only really researched Bum Genius, but we only did a trial run of three of those. I have enjoyed them, except for the bulkiness I mentioned earlier. I'm getting ready (within the next week) to make my big purchase to stock up enough diapers for Charlie to use most of the time...your thoughts would be appreciated!


  5. +Melba:

    Flushable liners: we used the Imse Vimse ones for awhile but I didn't like them. You have to use them in lots of pee diapers because you can never quite predict when they might poop. You can wash them a couple of times with the diapers but then they fall apart and that seems like a waste to me. Also, I thought they were unpleasantly scratchy compared to fleece, too wide, and often would bunch up and not catch all of the poo. I feel as though if I have to wash a tiny bit of poo off of cloth I might as well just wash all the poo out. BUT I've heard many moms say they love flushable liners, so since you have some already I say use them and see what works for you!

    With regard to brands, etc. I will type up a separate post on that because it is way too much info for a comment!!! :) Not a problem, I love diaper chat.

  6. Nice CD posts!

    With Leo, I found it just made more sense to give up on most mainstream pants to put him in wool pants 90% of the time. I traded/bought a few sewn wool pants, sewed a few of my own, and knit a bunch of longies. With a daughter, I suspect I'd use a lot of dresses, at least in nice weather. Tiny Gap jeans weren't worth the effort. The girl I'm nannying uses prefolds and BumGenius diapers with mainstream pants and her cover/pocket shows every time. Mneh, no thanks. Not convenient, but it worked.

  7. I read the posts back the front. Oops. As for wing droop with pins, I don't have that problem (but funnily enough I do have that problem with snappis on occasion), so here's what I do: I make sure to pull the prefold too tight before I pin it (it loosens some anyway and I get a perfect fit), make sure to pin through all fabric layers, but the biggest difference I've found is making sure I pin out to the sides/hips, not in front. HTH!

  8. The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review: http://jonathanandandrea.blogspot.com/2009/04/spray-it-or-scrub-it.html

  9. I have used ecover on PUL on occasion with no problem. I mostly use pockets but I have some OBV fitteds and prefolds in the mix. Plus my homemade flannel wipes needed to be softened up.

    I haven't had any repelling issues either after using it.


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