Friday, May 10, 2013

The Dirty Details About the Diapers

I have been cloth diapering Meara and I love it. It is something I feel very proud of. I have made most of the diaper covers and many of the diapers I use for her.
Cloth diapers is something that I have become, dare I say, passionate about. I have been trying to convince some friends to give cloth diapering a try but he response I tend to get is a fear of dealing with poop. So I have decided to write a little about how easy cloth diapering can be to add to your routine, how it can even be painless to wash those diapers (yes, even the poopy ones) and how to start.

The Five Reasons I Cloth Diaper:

  1. Money! Cloth diapers may be a big investment in the beginning but in the long run you can save thousands of dollars.
  2. It`s Environmentally friendly. With a good washing routine and the fact that I am not putting them in the dryer, think of the energy savings!
  3. They are super cute. It is just one more way to dress up my pretty little girl.
  4. Less Diaper Rash. For most, when cloth diapering you will find you have less diaper rash, this is partly because your child will let you know immediately when the diaper is too wet, and partly due to breath-ability  If you are getting rashes it is likely an issue with the wash routine.
  5. Cloth diapered babies potty train faster. Your child is more motivated to toilet train when they can actually feel that they are wet.

When I first tried seriously cloth diapering, Greg was a few months old. My only prior experience was with Birdseye Cotton Flat Diapers that I mostly used as burp cloths for Joey and only rarely put them on him when I was low on disposables between paydays. I had a lot to learn about diapers. There are so many types of diapers, and so many ways to wash them that it did seem a little overwhelming. Where do you begin?

With Greg it all started with gDiapers. I thought that this was the coolest idea ever, a diaper that you flush. No more stinky diaper pails, this is environmentally friendly and to top it all off, they are super adorable. There was one major downside to these though, the inserts are about 3x the cost of a disposable diaper and they are only available online (Dynamic Health did carry them briefly). I was scouring the internet searching for a deal on these when I discovered Prefold Diapers. Many mothers were using prefolds as inserts in their gDiapers to save money, some didn't even bother with the flush-able inserts at all, so I decided to order a few and give it a try. Next thing you know I was full time cloth diapering. I had Fitted Diapers given to me by a friend and ordered a sample MotherEase One Size to round out my diapering collection.
When I got pregnant with Meara, I knew that I wanted to cloth diaper, I also knew that I wanted to try a few different styles of cloth diapers and expand my knowledge. This time I was going to be buying my whole diaper stash myself and I was going to do it informed. My decision was that I wanted a diverse selection of diaper. After all, there are so many types of diapers, some are better for night time and longer stretches, some are more convenient to change on the go and some are more affordable that others.
I recommend that to cloth diaper full time you need a bare minimum of 18 diapers and 4 covers but it is better to have enough to goa day or two between changes. I currently have  about 28 and can get away with washing diapers every second day.
I am going to now give an overview of my diaper collection, the types of diapers and how I like to use them. As my stash grows I do intend to come back and add to this list. I will also include links to where I bought them and a brief review. Following this I will provide my care routine

My Diaper Stash

Prefolds, Contours and Fitteds:

Bummis Prefolds - I use my prefolds as inserts in pocket diapers and I use them in yoke style covers that I made myself.These diapers can be Snapied of pinned as a diaper or laid flat in a cover. These are the best option for newborns because they are so affordable. Your baby wont be tiny for too long so I don`t recommend spending too much money on the diapers you use in the first few weeks. When your baby outgrows a prefold you can use them to boost absorbency in your other diapers.

Fitted Diapers - Fitted diapers are much like a disposable in fit, you snap or Velcro (actually they use a tape called aplix) them in place and put a cover over them. These are my main diapers that I use at home durring the day. They are easy to change and have decent absorbancy.

  1. MotherEase EconoMe Fitted Diapers - I bought these in a size small so that I would have a little more for my little ones first weeks. Since the size I bought fits to 20lbs which the boys reached around 1 year it was a good choice. Only, Meara doesn't fit them already, she is a very round baby. So I am selling them, but I do still recommend them. They would have worked great with the boys who weren't in the 90th percentile on the growth chart. Overall these diapers are absorbent enough for outings and naps if paired with the Sandys Absorbent Liners that they are sold with.
  2. Little Green Bear Fitted Diaper - These are the diapers that I sewed myself using the pre-cuts sold through Wazoodle Fabrics. For the diapers I made I only used two layers of Zorb fabric because I found that my sewing machine had trouble if I used the three suggested. Instead I made doublers to add absorbency to these. They aren't my most absorbent diapers so I dont like to use them on outings or overnights.

Kissaluvs Hybrid Contour Diaper - These diapers are a lot like a fitted diaper only they do not have snaps or Aplix, instead you use a Snappi, diaper pin, or the cover to hold them shut. These particular contour diapers are great because they have the gathering in the thigh to keep little messes in. Initially I didn't expect to like these diapers very much when they first arrived. They seemed to huge to fit any baby. Finally when Meara was about 6 weeks old I figured I better try them rather than have wasted my money on them. I was surprised to see how well they could fit her. Contour diapers are generally a One Size diaper (one size fits all) you just tuck the front in to adjust the rise of the diaper. These diapers are great when I run out of clean fitteds but because I have to fuss with the Snappi, I don't reach for them first. Very absorbent though, which makes them good for nap times

Covers and Pockets:
Diaper covers do not need to be washed with every use. As long as the cover is not soiled you can simply wipe it and reuse.

Babyville Boutique - These are the diapers that I sewed myself. I bought the book with patterns at Walmart for $10.00. Walmart sells most of the Babyville line for half of what they charge at Fabricland, however if you want to buy PUL (the waterproof fabric used for making diaper covers and wetbags) by the yard it is cheaper. Fabricland sells a yard for about $25.00 which will make 6-8 covers or you can find it online for half of that. Wazoodle sells a very large selection of PUL by the yard, and I have found two American stores that I am considering ordering from with a bigger selection of prints (and a few more diapering fabrics), Kids in the Garden, and Verybaby.
Yoke cover from the Babyville pattern with a
Bummis prefold
The Babyville Boutique pattern is a very adaptable pattern that I have been able to alter it to fit Meara better and the book provides instructions for just about every type of diaper and cover. I have made covers that are very simple, yoke covers that are meant specifically for holding inserts and prefolds, snailshell covers that  are basically the same as the gDiapers, pocket diapers and even and All in One diaper.
If you have been reading my blog than you know that these are the projects that I am using to teach myself to sew. Depending on the complexity of the diaper that I am making it can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to sew a diaper from start to finish.

Thirsties Duo Wrap - This is a great cover but for a one size diaper I am already on the largest setting at 8 weeks. I like this cover best with contours and the gussets in the leg hold diaper messes in very well.

The Flip diaper, my favorite.
Flip Hybrid Diaper - This is a great two piece diaper system. The cover is a yoke style and you simply place the insert in. They are wonderful diapers for their absorbency  and affordability. My only complaint with these is that when Meara poops in them it always gets on the cover so it cant be used for the next diaper but that is such a minor thing. I am planning to get more of these because they are so easy to use and don't take up much room in the diaper bag. These are my favorite for outings and with a doubler are pretty good for overnights.

Happy Heinys Pocket Diaper - I picked up a few of these for cheap on my last diaper order and I like them quite a bit. Pocket diapers are one of the best diapers for overnights. They consist of a PUL outer and a wicking inner, all you need to do is place an absorbent insert in them and they are ready to go. When you take them off your baby just remember to remove the insert when placing in the diaper pail or wet bag so you don't have to do it when you wash them, because by then they wont be nice to touch.

Inserts, Doublers and Liners:
There are many options to choose from when it comes
to inserts doublers and liners.
Inserts are intended to provide all of the absorbency for a diaper, Doublers (which can also be called soakers or boosters) add additional absorbency but are not meant to provide all the absorbency, and Liners are meant to protect the diaper from stains while wicking moisture away from babies bottom. Liners do not provide additional absorbency, and when using diaper ointment you should always use a liner. Diaper ointments will clog your diapers causing them to repel rather than absorb.

Jamtots One Size Stuffers - This is an insert that I use only in my pocket diapers. It is very absorbent and paired with a doubler makes a perfect overnight diaper.

Thirsties Fab Doublers - These are my favorite doublers so far. They provide just enough added absorbency without making the diaper too bulky. They are a great price and I will be ordering more.

Kushies Liners - I bought a 5 pack of these at Walmart, they do provide a little absorbency and are made with flannel so they do not actually wick moisture away.

Little Green Bear - These are more home sewn form Wazoodle. I have made these with just Bamboo French Terry, or with a layer of Zorb sandwiched between the terry. I like these for adding absorbency to my fitteds or with my Jamtots Stuffers. I don`t currently have a serger so I turn and top stitch these. When I am using the Zorb I trim it and sew it to one of the Terry pieces before I sew them together. Zorb should not be used against a babies bottom as it is a microfiber.

Bummis Fleece Liners - These are microfleece and the perfect liner to add to a diaper to keep baby feeling dry. They will be pretty much the same no matter what brand you buy them from. A rectangle of microfleece with raw edges. I use these anytime I add extra absorbency to a diaper that I will have to leave on her a little longer so that she can feel dry or anytime I need to use diaper ointment. I do not use these in diapers that are prone to leaking once they are full because I want her to let me know as soon as they are full.

Kissaluvs Cloth Diaper Super Soaker Doubler - I only have one of these but intend to order a few more. These are perfect for overnights in a pocket diaper. They do add  bulk so I don`t usually use them during the day.

Baby Kangas One-Size Organic Hemp Fleece Inserts - This is a very absorbent insert, I use primarily in my pocket diapers but sometimes in my yoke covers as well. It is bulky so I tend to use this more for night times.

AppleCheeks Bamboo Booster - This doubler is pretty much the same as my Little Green Bear ones, two layers of soft bamboo, so I use it the same way.

All In Ones (AIO):
AIO diapers are the most convenient cloth diaper as they are the most like a disposable. The cover and the absorbency are sewn together so all you have to do is put it on your baby. They do have a few drawbacks though. AIO's tend to take longer to dry and cost a lot. Use these for convenience when you are on the go but I dont recommend them for your main diaper.

Babyville Boutique AIO - There is a pattern for a quick dry AIO but what I did was alter the patter to a basic AIO. It is basically the same as my fitted only using flannel and Zorb with a PUL outer, turned and top stitched. It is nice and trim but not the most absorbent diaper. I am still trying to figure out the best way to alter this pattern to include gussets and a little more absorbancy without compromising on the nice trim fit. As you can tell the trim fit is my favorite part of this diaper, otherwise it needs some fixing. I was thinking an internal gusset would do the trick to keep messes in, since these are the biggest issue and it looks easier to do than the regular gussets but I wont decide until I order more fabrics.

You may notice that the majority of the links provided are for the Enfant Style Diapers store. I bought the majority of my diapers here and I find they have great customer service, reasonable pricing, a large selection, a loyalty program and fast shipping so I do recommend them. I have a huge list of Canadian online baby boutiques that specialize in cloth diapers but I always seem to order from here, usually based on better prices or the fact that they have more selection so I don't have to order from multiple stores.

Diapering Care Basics:

Prepared diapers and all required supplies in arms reach
It is helpful to keep your diapers organized and ready to go. I keep them in baskets next to my change table and I try to always have a few assembled and ready to go for quick changes. If every time you change a diaper you have to stuff your pockets or find an insert and cover you will waste a lot of time. I will assemble a dozen diapers every morning so that I am always ready for the day.

Diaper Pails and Wetbags:
For safety reasons when using the
wet pail method it is important to
 use a  pail with a securing lid 
I prefer the wet pail method for my diapers but this is in part because I have fit daily washing into my routine. I wash my diapers about every 36 hours. With a wet pail you don`t really want them sitting too long. I find that I don`t have foul diaper pail odours and that my diapers don`t often stain with this method.
I plase about 6 inches of water in the bottom of my pail and a few tablespoons of borax.
I used to place Gregs diapers straight in the washing machine and I would run that load every night before bed. This is a method that is convenient if you don`t have too many other loads of laundry to do during the day.
Some people like to use a wet bag or dry pail sprinkled with baking soda. I cant say much about these methods as I haven't used them. I believe the dry pail method is usually the most recommended.
A wet bag is important to have for your diaper bag. I have two so that I always have a clean one ready to use.
Before you put your poopy diapers in a pail or wet bag it is recommended to rinse them. You can do this with a swish in the toilet, or a diaper sprayer. I dont rinse mine at all right now. Breast fed baby poop is water soluble. I find a pre-rinse before washing is enough. When she starts eating solids I will make using liners a little more habitual as this can eliminate the need to rinse, the poop will fall right off the liner into the toilet.

Washing Routine:
My routine is very simple, I drain the water in the pail, put the diapers in the washer for a rinse cycle, then I put them on for the longest hottest wash cycle, and finally an extra rinse cycle. I am currently using the same detergent for my diapers which I am aware isn't the best thing for them. I know that Canadian Tire has a few laundry detergents that would be better for them and I will be picking a few up to try later this week. Once I have given them some use I will update  this post.
You do not ever want to use fabric softeners with your diapers as this can cause them to repel.
I prefer to hang my diapers to dry. Hanging diapers to dry can save you money and prolong the life of your diapers. I bought a cheap drying rack that I keep in the nursery. If the weather is not suitable for hanging the diapers on the line I hang them in the nursery. The drying rack is also a great place to put your covers to dry between uses. If the diapers are a little crispy I will toss them in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them.

Stripping Diapers and Sanitizing:
If you find your  diapers are not as absorbent as they should be it is probably time to strip them. I do this every 6 weeks using GroVia Mighty Bubbles. It seems to work pretty good. I have also heard good things about Rockin Green Funk Rock. When I used the GroVia last I noticed that most of the stains in my diapers were gone.
There are ways to strip your diapers without these products, such as repeated washing with out detergent until you see know soap residues in the water, but these methods seem to be more time consuming and waste a lot of hot water.
Another benefit to line drying your diapers is that the suns rays can not only bleach out your stains for you, but they also sanitize the diapers. If you do feel that you need to bleach the diapers do not make this a part of your regular routine and go very light on the bleach. Bleach use does void the warranty on most cloth diapers.

I will be posting links to sites with helpful info on cloth diapering as I come across them here soon but for now thanks for reading and don`t hesitate to ask me any questions you may have.


A comprehensive list of laundry detergents to help you make the right choice for washing your diapers.

Cloth diaper fabric supplies. The shipping is about $20-30.00 depending on the order size but the is no duty so it is a great place to shop in Canada.

Two other online suppliers of cloth diapering fabrics. I have not yet ordered from either but the prices seem about right.

Simplifi Fabric
Organic fabrics sold by the half yard in Canada. Yay, for cheaper shipping! They have a lot of bamboo, hemp, and PUL, and best of all, I finally found Birdseye cotton.
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