If anyone had told me I would cloth diaper my baby, I would have laughed at them! Cloth dipes conjure images of huge pins, pails of bleach, and complicated folding. The truth is that today’s cloth diapers are simple and fun! Most use velcro or snaps and some have great patterns. Cloth has been easy and it makes me feel good–like when I sort my recycle bin.
Why would you use cloth?
- Environment: 4000-6000 disposable diapers go to landfills per baby. That is 2.7 tons! The manufacturing process takes more water than even the non-organic cotton diaper manufacturing. Petroleum accounts for 15% of disposable diapers. Sodium Polyacrylate is used to make the absorbent gel.
- Diaper rash: Proctor and Gamble did a study that concluded diaper rash increased from 7.1% to 61% with increased use of their diapers. They didn’t publish that study very prominently.
- Comfort. Would you want to wear paper/plastic underwear 24 hours a day? Disposables are made of paper and plastic which are not very breathable.
- Money: Disposables: estimate is average $2000 per child. Cloth costs $150-350 plus electricity, water, detergent.
- Potty training: Cloth babies feel sensation of wetness and often potty train earlier.
- Chemicals: Polyacrylate gel. Some early research links this gel with some scary health risks. I’ll let you do your own studies on that one!
Cloth diapers come in a few varieties:
Pre-folds and Flats: The traditional diaper. Chinese and Indian pre-folds are most absorbent. These can be used with pins or snappis. You can use with a cover if you want them to be waterproof. Or, use without a cover around the house when you don’t mind some wetness. Pre-folds can also be used as an insert in a cover without pins or snappis. Just fold in thirds and place inside cover.
Fitted or Contoured: These are diapers that do not require folding. They usually come in natural fiber choices (cotton, hemp, bamboo, etc.). They require a cover to be waterproof but like pre-folds, they can be used around the house without a cover.
Pockets: A diaper that has three layers–waterproof outer, absorbent insert, and a layer of soft wicking fiber against baby’s skin. You stuff the insert into the pocket according to your needs. For example, you might stuff with a thin layer of hemp for daytime or several layers of microfiber for nighttime. You control the absorbency.
AIO’s and AI2’s: A one-piece diaper with the insert built in. This diaper is the closest type to disposable. No folding, no stuffing–you velcro or snap and go.
Wool: Wool diapers are made as either soakers (which look like a diaper or shorts) or longies(which look like pants). They are also available as overalls and sleepsacks. Wool is the supreme absorbent fiber. It is naturally breathable, cool, and anti-bacterial. Wool diapers should be used as a cover over prefolds, flats, inserts, or fitteds. The best part: you only need to wash wool diapers every 2-4 wks if they do not get poo on them! Yes, it is magic. Wool fibers contain tiny pockets which collect urine. Air flows through and evaporates the urine. Wool’s naturally magical properties even remove the smell. Don’t believe me? Try it. You can make your own from old wool sweaters. Learn how to care for wool.
Laundering Information: I recommend Country Save (available locally at Garner’s) or Charlie’s Soap (available at Whole Foods).
And since I know you’re wondering: Dealing with the Poopies
Everyone has a different diapering system. Here is mine:
For Norah: I used BumGenius one size pockets for daytime. At night, I used Kushies AIOs with a Reusable Wraps wool soaker. My diaper pail was a dollar store plastic trashcan. I didn’t use a liner; I just threw the diapers and wipes in. I made my wipes from old T-shirts and I soaked them with water, Dr. Bronner’s soap, and a few drops of tea tree oil. On the go, I put soiled diapers in a small zipper wet bag.
For Cedar: I started out with an assortment of fitted and covers. I use much more wool. When she hit 10lbs, I started adding BumGenius pockets into the mix. I have fancier homemade wipes this time. My diaper pail is just a laundry bag looped over a hook on the wall. I wet my wipes as I use them with a spray bottle of lavendar Dr. Bronner’s soap and water.
Want to know more? Come to a local cloth diaper group. We meet monthly. Email me if you would like times/dates.