Sunday, March 27, 2011

the cloth diaper chronicles (a 5 month review).

today my baby boy is 5 months old.  aside from the oft-asked, "is he sleeping through the night?," the next most common inquiry generally involves cloth diapering.  people's expressions generally range from complete shock and awe to disgust (i think there are lots of images of me, elbow deep in baby poop) to general curiosity about the whole process.  sooooo, without further ado, i have decided to break down my cloth diaper experience.

we have now been padding tiny man's bum with cloth for 5 months.  we didn't necessarily intend to start using cloth diapers from day one (in fact, i figured we'd use those preemie disposables for the first few weeks), but since jack was so teeny tiny, cloth was the best option because we could manipulate the pre-folds to fit him as tightly as we needed them to.  so anyway, we've been using cloth since the first day we brought jack home from the hospital, and now... for my rave review.

i love, love, love cloth diapering.  no, really.  i do.  it has been the easiest part of parenting thus far.  i guess the only reason i'm even taking the time to type this is because pre-baby i worried about cloth diapering and whether it would be worth it in the long run, and i want other people who might be considering it to know -- it's definitely manageable and totally worth it.  i definitely think all the options could leave a person feeling overwhelmed and a little lost.... i mean, i certainly felt that way.  and so, months before the peanut arrived on the scene, i spent lots of time researching options, thinking about what would be best for our little family and making (what i hoped would be) smart decisions.

i think the vast variety of options when it comes to cloth diapering definitely leads to intimidation about the whole process.  there are all-in-one diapers, prefolds, diaper wraps, diaper snaps, liners, fleece inserts, wet bags and more.  our cloth diaper solution would probably not work for everyone, but let me be clear: we do not have some fancy, expensive washer and dryer (we have an old, run of the mill top loader) and we did not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars creating a diaper stash.

i use cotton pre-folds with thirsties diaper covers over top of them.  we have 24 pre-folds (more than enough),
fastened with snappis,

topped off with 7 covers (four with velcro and three with snaps; we could definitely make do with less, but 7 was great when jack was pooping much more often "back in the day.").
the nice thing about the thirsties covers (besides the fact that they are adorable, hello!) is that they adjust to your baby's size.  you can move the velcro to a wider setting (or adjust the snaps) as your baby grows.  the gussets fit snugly around a skinny baby's legs (which was wonderful for my 5 lb. peanut in the first days home from the hospital), but could easily adjust to be comfortable for a more chunky little munchkin.  we can custom fold the cotton pre-folds to fit jack as snugly as necessary, and then we fasten them with a snappi.  (don't get me started on my love for the snappi, the modern day equivalent of the diaper pin.)

but here's the takeaway: my husband changes 95% of the diapers in our house, and he's on board with cloth.   when i was going back to work, i told him that we'd see how cloth went with one of us out of the house.  i promised him we could switch to disposables if it was too much work.  it took one trip and one blow-out with a disposable for him to start singing cloth's praises to anyone who would listen.  

now for the washing routine, which i'm sure is where most of the anxiety lies.  contrary to whatever people might think, i don't spend my days with baby poop smeared all over my hands.  we have a kissa's antibacterial liner tucked into a simple white plastic trash can with a lid.
we own two liners (so we can use one while washing the other), and they work perfectly.  they wick away moisture and keep odors to a minimum.  we wash diapers (and the liner) approximately every three days.
we do use a special laundry detergent for cloth diapers.  i read lots of horror stories about laundry detergent build up on cloth diapers and the awwwwful consequences (horrible diaper rash, lack of absorbency, etc.), so i invested in thirsties pre-wash and super wash. 

five months in, and we're still on our first bottles of each.  you only use 1/2 oz. of each, so it does last a long time.  we use 1/2 oz. of pre-wash and do a cold wash first, then 1/2 oz. of super wash with a hot wash.  the diapers come out soft and clean.  cloth diaper laundry is the easiest laundry we do, honestly.  we just place the clean diapers in a little plastic crate; we don't even fold them.

yes, we do use cloth diapers when traveling (unless we're going to be gone for several days).  when we're out, we store dirty diapers in this fantastic contraption: the wet bag.
the wet bag keeps the moisture inside and repels odors.  it's amazing.  we received two of these, along with 12 cuteybaby cloth diapers (see below).
we have not used these yet because even though they are supposed to fit babies that weigh at least 10 lbs, jack is still too skinny for me to be comfortable with the fit.  once jack chunks up a bit in the thighs, i'll report back on the results.

anyway, we've not had any diaper rash to speak of, no blow-outs or anything of that nature in cloth.  they're easy to use and launder, and quite cost effective. we spent less than $100 on our cloth diaper stock, and we haven't had to buy anything else five months in.  (jack is a few pounds away from needing a larger pre-fold size, but i swear by this osocozy brand, and you can get 2 dozen on amazon for $24.)

so, there's the skinny on our cloth diaper experience. definitely worth it, in my humble opinion!

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