Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101

Welcome to Cloth Diapering 101. 

Below you’ll find an FAQ.  There is much more to know – and I openly disclose I am a newbie – but this should be enough to get your toe in the water.  If you have any questions I haven’t answered, just ask away in the Comments section and I’ll be happy to respond!

Q:  How do Cloth Diapers (CDs) work?
A:  It depends on the type that you purchase.  I’ll go over a few of them below.

-          Pre-folds & Covers:  This is closest to the “diapers of old” that our mothers used but usually the most economical.  The “pre-fold” is the absorbent diaper portion that goes against the baby’s skin. You would need to attach it via diaper pins or new “snappies”.  The Cover is what goes over the prefold – usually some form of waterproof fabric with elastic/gusseted legs and waist.
-          All In Ones/AI2s:  These are where the inner absorbent portion and the outer waterproof cover are sewn together in one diaper.  They usually attach with Velcro-type (hook/loop) closures, or with snaps.  They are handy – especially for reluctant dads, grandparents, or daycares since they are used much like a disposable. (A subset of this category is AI2s, where part of the inner diaper is either not sewn in completely, or is removable. This is to aid in drying time)
-          Pocket Diapers:  These are similar to All In Ones, but instead of the inner portion being sewn in, you put “inserts” into a “pocket” inside the diaper.  The type of insert and its absorbency level depends on the brand you are using as well as personal preference.  (note: you still must change the entire diaper each time as the pee or poo will get on the outside of the “pocket”).  Some brands of pocket diapers offer biodegradable/flushable inserts.
-          Hybrid:  These are newer to the CD genre and are the only diaper you can “re-use” more than one time between cleaning.  The liners of the diaper snap in and out so that you can remove the soiled area, replace with a fresh liner and re-use the “shell”.  However, once the shell has gone through a few changings (2-3) or once your loved one has pooed on them, you do need to change the shell as well.

Q:  Do you have to replace the entire diaper every time?
A:  Unless you are using a “hybrid” diaper, you will need to replace the entire diaper each time. 

Q:  Do diapers come in “sizes”?
A:  Some do.  Some diapers come in various sizes (S, M, L, etc).  Some are “One Size” diapers.  The “One Size” diapers adjust via either snaps or elastic tabs to fit a wide range of sizes (usually around 8-30lbs).

Q:  Where do you keep soiled CDs until cleaning time?
A:   Again some of this depends on personal preference.  Most families simply keep either a diaper pail with a CD liner (different than a typical “disposable” pail liner) or have a special “hanging wet bag” they place over a doorknob.  These pail liners or wet bags are cloth and lined with waterproof material.  The bags are washable and the idea is to wash them at the same time you wash the corresponding load of CDs.  Portable wet bags can be used for being out on the go or for daycare providers. 

Q:  How often do you need to clean them?
A:  Most CD companies recommend cleaning every 1-2 days for best results.

Q:  What do I do with the “poo”?
A:  Again it depends.  Some moms use biodegradable liners (thin sheets that go between the baby and the diaper) to contain poo for easier disposal.  Most people will tell you that if you’re exclusively breast feeding, the poo doesn’t need to be rinsed prior to being placed in the washing machine.  For older infants or those formula fed (firmer or stickier poos), you can use a disposable wipe, you can use a sink sprayer, you can use a special diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet, or you can dip the diaper into the toilet and flush. 

Q:  Do you need special detergent?
A:  It depends on what you mean by “special”.  You do need something that is safe for CDs (and for your little ones!).  Many moms like All Free & Clear.  It does still contain a chemical “brightener” but is a relatively safe choice.  There are also “niche” detergents like Rockin Green and Charlie’s. Here's a good link to help:

Q:  What do you do with the wipes you use?
A:  If you use disposable, you can usually just throw them in the wash right along with the CDs and then pick them out once washed to dispose of them.  Many moms use cloth wipes however.  I’ve even heard of moms taking the cloth wipes out of the washer and, while still damp, placing them in a wipes warmer!  What type of cloth wipe you like is a matter of preference, but many moms use either infant wash cloths, or cut up squares of microfleece.

Q:  How expensive is it to cloth diaper?
A:  It depends on what “system” you go with, how big a “stash” you want to have (i.e. how long you can go without doing laundry) and whether you use “fitted” or “one size” diapers.  From what I’ve seen, to get a solid “stash” expect to spend around $300 for all new.  However, there are great used diaper sites around as well as Craigslist and eBay.  Just remember that over the lifetime of your child, you’ll be saving hundreds in comparison to using disposables for 2-3 years.  Also, if you plan on having more than one child you will be able to use those CDs for future kids as well.

Q:  How many CDs will I need?
A:  Well if you just want to check out the CD world to see if you like it, you could get away with just a few diapers and/or covers.  However, if you know you want to jump in whole hog, you should have enough to change your baby for at least two full days.  Most would say that equates to about 18 diapers.  However if you’re using the Hybrids you may be able to get away with a few less.  The general rule there is to have enough shells for however many times your baby poops in a 2-day period (4-6). 

Q:  Are leaks worse with CDs?
A:  It depends on who you ask.  Some will say the “sized” diapers help better control leaks. Others will say specific brands work better for them than others.  Basically - just like disposables - it’s a matter of trial/error and brand preference.  Many diapers offer “soaker pads” or “doublers” which are pads of absorbent fabric you lay in the crotch area of the diaper to increase absorbency.   Some moms do prefer to use disposables for overnight protection, while others find that they are fine with cloth.

Q:  Is diaper rash worse with CDs?
A:  No. In fact many mothers find that they have less incidents of rash with CDs due to the lack of chemicals in the diaper.  Do note that most diaper rash creams cannot be used with CDs unless a liner is put in place.

Q:  I’m lost on all the lingo and abbreviations!
A:  Check here for help: 


Sarah said...

When I have kids will you walk me through this in exchange for Starbucks?

FlippyHolz said...

Positively! :) Or maybe in exchange for an adorable scarf!! ;D

Anonymous said...

You crazy woman...cloth??
You totally rock!
Way to love the environment...
I, on the other hand, have killed several forests to diaper my 4 boys. One of them wasn't potty trained until he turned 3. That makes me especially environmentally dangerous!

jenn joyce