Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers do still exist. And they are better than ever. If you choose to cloth diaper your little one, it will quickly become an obsession, as I have learned!

Why cloth? Well, the Maine Cloth Diaper Company has a good explanation of the reasons someone would choose to cloth diaper their baby:

Why Cloth?
There is a simple answer to this.
Cloth diapers are not full of chemicals that may be harmful to your baby. Therefore, they are a healthier alternative to disposables.
Cloth diapers are much more affordable than disposable diapers. On average a baby would cost anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for disposables, when you can start cloth diapering for as little as around $350 for a basic system to $500 for an all organic/ natural diapering system for the complete two to three years of diapering.
Cloth diapers are better for the environment! By the time a baby potty trains he or she will go through approximately 5000 diapers! That is a lot of diapers for one baby to be going into a landfill. No one knows for sure, but it is estimated to take at least 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

The cloth diapering world can be overwhelming for a new mother. Prefolds (that rectangular piece of cloth that you fold and stuff in a cover) are the most widely recognized cloth diaper because they've been around for so long. They're like what your grandmother probably used. But there are so many other kinds out there now! When I first started learning about cloth diapering, I became quickly frustrated because there were so many different types and systems that I didn't know where to start! A lot of message boards (I learned about them on MotheringDotCommune) use abbreviations, so that made it even more difficult for me. Luckily, the mothers on Mothering are so nice and helpful and talked me through everything. So now, I will do the same for any readers out there willing to "convert!"

Here are the different types of diapers you can choose from:

-Pocket Diapers: We have been using pocket diapers from the start. Not the cheapest option, but definitely convenient. Basically, it's a diaper with either velcro or snaps with a water resistant outer liner so it DOES NOT require an extra cover. The inside lining is usually fleece which helps keep the moisture away from the baby's tush. There is an opening between the two layers in the back where you "stuff" the diaper with inserts depending on the needs of your baby. Some babies are heavy wetters and require more inserts than others. That is the reason I like them. If you use them at night, you can stuff a bunch of inserts in them. They are also pretty trim and fit under clothes well.
Brands of pocket diapers that I have used/heard good things about include:
Fuzz Bunz
Haute Pockets (These are also one-size...more on that later!)
Happy Heiny's
BumGenius 2.0 one-size

-All-in-Ones (AIO): A diaper that does not require a cover or any inserts. It's basically everything in one diaper, kind of like a disposable, but made out of cloth! So they are easy. Downside is they take a while to dry after washing, so they're usually on the line longer or in the dryer longer. We have only used AIOs a couple of times and I have to say they are easy and great for outings. You can add a "doubler" (what you call an extra pad for absorbency that you sit right in the diaper) if the diaper themselves aren't absorbent enough. They usually aren't too bulky either, which is great!
The only brand of AIOs that I have used is Bumkins and they have a good fit and are trim. I'm not usually a fan of velcro, but the velcro on these are fine and don't bother my daughter's tummy when she is sitting down (she has a Buddha belly!).

-Fitted diapers: These look like a regular diaper with either snaps or velcro, but require a cover and often a doubler. We used these when our daughter was first born because they were relatively easy and you can get newborn diapers in this style. It's hard finding a pocket diaper that fits a newborn. We are just starting to use them again now that she's older and moving around more. You can get them made in hemp, cotton, even bamboo and more. They require a cover like I said, so are often quite bulky. They are good for at home or night time when you don't have to worry about fitting a cute outfit over that big diaper bum! I never understood why some fitteds have cute designs when you cover them up with something anyway, but they are still fun to look at drying on the line :)
Brands we like or have heard are good:
Bambineo One-Size (Made out of bamboo which is super absorbent and grown without the use of pesticides!)
Sandy's Fitted Diaper
Luxe Diapers These are so gorgeous and a bit pricey, but oh my...they are just SO NICE!

-Prefolds: The "old-fashioned" diapers that you fold and put under a cover. The middle sections have multiple layers of cotton to add absorbency. You will sometimes see them described as 4x6x4 or 4x8x4. This means that there are 4 layers on each side and the middle either has 6 or 8 layers. There are many different folds you can use. The Maine Cloth Diaper Company has some good folding instructions illustrated on their website. They also carry prefolds on their website. The benefits of using prefolds are they are the cheapest option and can also double as inserts for pocket diapers. We are just now starting to use prefolds under wool covers.

Now, for covers they are just as many options. You will need a cover if you are using fitteds or prefolds. Have I lost you yet? Don't get discouraged!!

Wool-Breathable, natural, warm in the winter and cool in the summer, naturally antimicrobial, water resistant, is cute and stylish and you don't need very many! There are many types of wool covers. Some are trim and have snaps or velcro and just go on over the diaper. Some don't have any snaps or velcro and pull up over the diaper (like undies) and are called "soakers". There are knitted wool pants called "longies" that are great for the winter. There are also knitted shorts called "shorties." We are using wool over her fitteds and prefolds now and like it. It is more expensive than other covers, but you don't need as many and the washing time is once every one to two weeks! That's because wool is antimicrobial. If the baby gets poo on it, you'll want to wash it sooner though. Just toss in a cold water wash, then lanolize and dry! That's it.
We like:
Loveybums wool covers
Kozy Designs soakers and longies
Woolly Bottoms Recycled Wool Covers You can find more of these online. They are made from sweaters!

Other covers: There are many other covers out there and it's pretty much trial and error. You have to decide which system works best for you. Some covers have velcro which many people don't like, others are too plasticy, some have snaps, some are softer, etc. You just have to see what you like and also see what fits your budget.
Some are:
Bumkins Diaper Covers
Bummis Diaper Covers

Another note: One-size diapers mean that they are adjustable and can fit newborn to toddlers. We have tried the BumGenius ones and they were very trim, but the suede-cloth lining made my daughter breakout for some reason. (She has very sensitive skin!) The Haute Pockets are a nice, adjustable diaper. This is good if you're looking for a diaper that lasts a long time and to save some money!

I hope I've convinced at least one reader to convert. I'm willing to answer any questions if you leave a comment, or you can find my e-mail through my blogger profile. Happy cloth diapering!

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