Sunday, November 07, 2010

Open Letter on Cloth Diaperese...

I recently wrote a friend regarding my cloth diapering journey, and put enough time into it to consider putting it up here for more people to use!  So, here it is:

First off, a quick lesson in the types of diapers there are: 
-- prefolds + cover-- "prefolds" are the plain rectangles; they're called so because they are thicker in the middle than on the edges, with several layers already pre-folded and sewn together.  They're still a step up from the the kind your grandma used, which are just giant squares of cotton and are known as "flats."  The best prefolds are unbleached, 100% cotton or hemp, and are "chinese" (indian prefolds are softer but give out faster).  The thickness of a prefold is described by three numbers:  ex. 4x6x4, meaning there are 6 layers in the middle & 4 on either side.  You want a minimum of 4x6x4-- 4x8x4 are good for night-time or being out & about, or for a heavy wetter. Covers provide the waterproof layer.  They can be made of PUL (a plasticized fabric), nylon, or wool (yes, my favorite!), and can fasten by snaps, velcro (aplix is the correct name), or drawstring.
-- fitteds + cover-- fitteds come already in the shape of a normal diaper, and can be fastened by snaps (especially the one-size-fits-all variety, which can fit tiny babies up through toddlers), or by velcro.  The best are 100% cotton or hemp, NOT polyester. Fitteds have to be covered by covers just like prefolds, so aren't really an advantage UNLESS you want to use the same diapers for two sized babies, or for the entire diaper-life of your child(ren), or if you're going to use pull-on (wool) covers.
-- pocket diapers-- these combine absorbent & water-proof into one package.  They usually have a PUL outer layer, and their absorbency comes from inserts (either microfiber, cotton, hemp, or a combo of the two) which you stuff into a pocket.  They can be sized, or one-size, and can fasten with either aplix or snaps.  These are the most like disposables & so are my hubby's favorite to use, and the ones I send to church in Eowyn's diaper bag.  However, they do have a polyester layer, which lets the baby feel dry, but I've found it more of a pain to wash (harder to come clean and to rinse totally out).  You un-stuff the diapers in the wash and have to re-stuff them (can customize how much absorbency you need)
-- all-in-ones-- these are basically washable disposables.  It's all in one.  I wouldn't recommend these because they are very hard to get totally clean, and drying time is intense.  They're also the most expensive.

Now, what I recommend and/or use:
-- I can see you really liking the pocket diapers, because they are so similar in look and function to a disposable diaper.  If you buy a snapped one-size, you could use it on both your girls at the same time, or with #2 and #3... or for all of #2's diapering life.  The aplix gets a nice snug fit, but I'm finding it really wear out quickly!  Eowyn's velcroed covers are already looking worn. I recommend Kawaii baby one-size pocket diapers; they have fit E really well since she was teensy, and still do now.  They're cheaper than Bum-genius (which is what tons of my friends use), and use snaps instead of velcro.  I've never had a problem with leakage or rashes.  If you're gonna go the pocket diaper route, I'd go for those.  You may want to have a half dozen on hand, just for her diaper bag or Ryan or for when you're in a hurry.Here's where to buy Kawaiis online (they call them all-in-ones, but they technically are pocket diapers).  They're $7 each, compared to $18 BumGenius.
-- if you want to go a cheaper route, here's what I do (and really have no complaints about)-- a mix of unbleached prefolds & PUL covers, and organic cotton snapped fitteds (ecobaby grow-with-me) & home-made wool covers (soooo easy!!).  You'd probably need both infant and regular sized diapers, though I still do use Eowyn's infant sized diapers during the day when I'm taking her to the potty & changing her every 3 hours or so. You saw how easy it is to tri-fold a prefold & lay it in a cover; no need to use pins or snappis or anything else. Ta-da!  The prefolds are super-easy to wash, never have any problems with stink or repelling pee, and bleach very white in the sun.  They dry quite quickly.  The covers are likewise pretty low-maintenance.  
---> prefolds: sites I recommend are Green Mountain Diapers, Cotton Babies, or where I got my "factory seconds".  I suggest two dozen of infant & one of regular to start out --you could even get just one dozen of each, and then order more as needed.  Factory seconds are THE WAY to go if you can find them!  Soooo much cheaper, and so far... not a single problem with the dozen I started using 9 months ago! (Edit: I still use the dozen infant sized during the day, and Eowyn is now 16 months old. At night I use regular sized prefolds or fitteds with inserts-- so 2 dozen infants would definitely cover you!)
--covers: I REALLY like leg gussets (they are a second layer inside the leg opening that keeps poo in). Covers with gussets are: Bummis Super-Brite or Thirsties Duo Wraps, which are both sold here  oooh... The price of Kawaii's one-sized snapped covers just can't be beat, though: $4.50 each!
--fitteds & wool covers-- if you're feeling craftsy, wool covers are very inexpensive to make (100% wool sweaters from Goodwill for $4 make 2-3 covers), and are amazing.  There is some sewing required, though.  Let me know if this interests you and I'll get you info on fitteds + wool covers. My fitteds are ecobaby sherpa grow-with-me snapped. Otherwise, I found the prefold + cover route to be super affordable and have no complaints except that my velcro is wearing out quicker than I expected.  Still, I think I'll get at least one more baby diapered, maybe more, out of it.  More if I can figure out how to change the velcro when this wears out...hmmm...

You'll also probably want to get-- a diaper sprayer, a diaper pail liner (you can use a trashcan or rubbermaid bin for your diaper bin), and wipes of some kind.  I cut cheap washcloths in halves or fourths and zig-zag stiched the raw edge, and they're great. Charlie's Soap is highly recommended for washing diapers (cool chart:, but I have a friend who does it with plain ol' baking powder & vinegar, and another who swears by Tide HE.

Cost Breakdown:
As far as price, let's say you did three dozen prefolds (2 in infant, 1 in regular or premium sized), and you got them for $25/dozen (which is quite expensive, when you can get them for closer to $10/dozen easily).  Then you buy 10 one-size snapped Kawaii covers ($4.50 each).  Lastly, just for convenience's sake, you buy 6 Kawaii baby one-size pocket diapers ($7 each).  You get free shipping because you order them in large quantities, but you don't manage to snag any sales.  You also order a diaper sprayer off amazon (around $50), buy 2 packs of cheap washcloths at Wal-Mart ($5 each), a box of Charlie's Soap ($11) and a Kissaluv elastic diaper-pail liner ($11).  Your grand total is....$244.  Just think-- only $244 for diapers for the entire life--hear that again-- ENTIRE LIFE-- of your child, and probably the next couple, too!  And that was a pretty liberal count, implying that you got nothing as gifts, no bulk discounts, no sales, nothing used, and no factory seconds.  We have spent way less than that on Eowyn!!  Craigslist is a great place to find diapers of many kinds.  I've gotten two big groups (called a lot), and split 'em with a friend.  I've also sold some diapers at

You might want to borrow some of our diapers to try them out, or come over for a diapering session & washing demonstration.  It's really not any grosser than emptying a diaper genie...which is to say... it's gross, but not THAT gross.  Poop stinks, and there's just no way around it.  But at least with cloth diapers you get to fold all these lovely clean, fresh, fluffy diapers instead of just opening a plasticy-smelling $10 package every week!

Lastly, here's an article on cloth diapering... estimates are that disposable diapers for one child cost $1600 total (Ryan & I thought that estimate was a bit high, if you bought the Wal-Mart brand which works fine)!!  And I disagree with saying you need 6 dozen diapers... if you do laundry 2ce a week, you should be fine with 2.5 dozen when they're little, and less when they are older and their poop is less runny/frequent!!  

1 comment:

ju.vanderw said...

I'm going to have to look into wool covers... They scare me, honestly! I've never done anything wool. And I agree that 6 dozen is WAY too much, I only have a dozen prefolds of each size (and Alaise is wearing the red GMD right now) plus 4 FuzziBunz and 4 Flips. Oh, and I think I have 4 GMD workhorse diapers. Kris loves using those, they're usually his first pick. And I wash about every 3 days and we are just fine.