Thursday, April 12, 2012

Which Cloth Diapers work for us

I purchased many different kinds of cloth diapers in order to see which ones worked well for my family. I recently went through my receipts and calculated that I have spent about $550 this past year on cloth diapers. Some of the things I bought I wish I hadn’t and some things I wish I had bought more of. There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers on the market, it can be really overwhelming to decide which to use.

Luckily, I live near Abby’s Lane and was able to take their Cloth 101 class. The owner, Stephanie, is supper nice and really helpful. I brought Orion to the class and she commented a few times on his cuteness and how she wanted to eat him up. Then he had 2 very loud poops during class which shocked me and made me gasp a little. Stephanie said it was a good segue to our next topic of poop. Stephanie has always answered my emails with lighting speed despite her 5 children, one of which isn’t even a year old yet.

If you are going to do cloth diapers you really need to have a working washing machine in your house. We have a front loading energy efficient washing machine and it does a great job. When we started cloth diapers we had a really old, ordinary washing machine which also did a decent job. Some people prefer the older models because you can add more water to the load which is something you can't do with the newer, water saving models. I have never been left with nasty inside either of my machines after washing diapers.

I started out using Rockin Green Classic Rock unscented washing detergent but have since switched to Tide powder. When I run out of Rockin Green, I either have to order it online or drive for an hour. It is also more expensive but it is more environmentally friendly than Tide Original powder. I really did not like the smell of the Tide at first but now I don’t even notice it. When washing, I recommend doing a pre-wash but an extra rinse really is a must. I wash my diapers daily and this has become a step in our baby's bedtime ritual.

I also recommend a diaper sprayer. It hooks up to your toilet and uses clean water from the tank (not the bowl which is for pooping). It is great at spraying away those sticky poops and we have not had any staining. I like to spray my diapers into a big paint bucket which we keep inside the tub. I will spray the diapers in the bucket (the higher sides help containing splashes from dirty diaper water) then I empty the bucket and rinse it out and then soak the diaper in the bucket with the lid on. You do want to be careful as a bucket with just a few inches of water is a drowning risk.

Here are some of the different cloth diaper options and my experience with them
Flat/pre-fold diapers with covers. We tried this option early on and I found I could never get the fit right. The diaper cover will help to catch leaks but you do need to change them more often. We used some of the Gerber cloth diapers you find at Babies R Us, some of these we used as burp cloths and some as diapers. I sprayed a bit of blue dye on the ones which would be used for burp cloths so I could tell them apart from butt diapers. These are not nearly as absorbent as the more expensive Indian prefolds. Both work and this is the cheapest option. One thing you really need if you are going this route is a Snappi. Forget the diaper pin, this little guy is genius!

When it comes to covers we tried Gen-Y, Thirsties, and Blueberry. I love that the Blueberry and Thirsties diaper covers have an extra leg gusset to catch leaks. Both worked really well but I prefer the Blueberry because it is roomier. I found the Gen-Y cover would get damp around the edges but they are super cute and we all know I am a sucker for cute. We also use the Flip system which is a cover and you can buy reusable or disposable inserts. This is more like an All-in-Two system as the cover wont really fit well over most fitted diapers. It can be used with pre-folds or flats and I really like the Flip system.

Pocket Diapers are really quite easy to use and we have had lots of luck with this type of diaper. We have tried Charlie Banana (small size), Happy Heinys (one size), DryBees (large size), RumpARooz (one size), and Fuzzi Bunz (one size). The RumpARooz have a short rise so my boy outgrew this diaper pretty quickly, around 6 months. I do think this diaper would last longer for a girl. Now that Orion is close to a year old and 22 lbs, the Fuzzi Bunz also seems to be too small. Personally, I found the Fuzzi Bunz annoying to adjust but sometimes I lack finger dexterity and patience. I love the Happy Heinys and have found they fit my boy well and have the least leakage. I like the DryBees and this is my go to morning or nighttime diaper when Orion has his highest output because this diaper always seems to stay dry. I was really happy with the Charlie Banana pocket but my favorite retailer does not sell them. When using a pocket diaper, I like to have a microfiber insert paired with a hemp insert on the bottom. The microfiber is quick catch and the hemp is super absorbent.

I have also tried a few All-in-Ones/All-in-Twos, Softbums, GroVia, and Thirsties. I like the Softbums but they are not the most absorbent so I tend to use this one in the afternoon. I did buy a bamboo pod to boost absorbency which is very effective. The GroVia is super trim and will fit well under clothes but it does leave red marks around Orion’s legs, the fit isn’t the best, and it is not the most absorbent. It isn’t my favorite diaper but I keep one in my diaper bag in case of emergency. I have also used their shell with flats and prefolds but have not bought the snap in inserts. I found that this shell did not fit over my fitted diapers which is why I do not consider it to be a diaper cover. But I couldn't resist the airplane print and just saw their bicycle and robot prints which are really cute. The Thirsties are our newest addition and we are still trying to get the fit down and its absorbency capacity. I think this is a diaper that might be better for girls because how the insert is sewn in. It also has to air dry which takes about 2 days inside. I like this style of diaper because it is less work but I don’t think they work as well as other diaper styles.

It took me a long time to understand what a fitted was and now I understand it to be a diaper that is 100% absorbent and requires a cover. Why they are called fitteds I do not know as I had thought fitted referred to size. I have used Kissaluvs and I really like this diaper and use it for nighttime diapering as well as daytime. I think a lot of people prefer fitteds for nighttime use.

Wool covers have worked really well for us at nighttime. Until that one time when I didn't wash the cover right and I had no luck with that cover for months and months. I have been using disposables at night but hope to get back to cloth diapers with wool covers soon. I am just waiting for the weather to warm up so I don't have to worry about having Orion in footie pajamas. I have only used the Disana cover but am curious to try to make a cover out of an old wool sweater.

If I were to go back and buy only one diaper system, it would be Flip. I love their inserts! You can fold down the insert to adjust their size and they have an amazing stay dry top. These are trim and absorbent but not as absorbent as my microfiber/hemp insert combination. I like to use these in the afternoon when Orion’s output isn’t as great. I know Orion’s pees way more in the morning until noon and now in the afternoon he goes a few hours without peeing at all. But really, I do not want just one system, I like having a variety to chose from depending on my babies needs at the moment.

Not all diapers are created equally. Whenever anything is really cheap, you have to ask why is it so cheap? Cheap material, unethical production practices, slave labor, child labor? The garment industry is pretty notorious for using sweat shops. Some companies are guilty of green washing and cashing in on environmentally friendly trends. Some companies have transparency in their practices and others do not. I know when I shop at Abby’s Lane that they can vouch for the items they sell. They sell items that are made with fair labor practices to the best of their knowledge. They also have a Made in the USA section

What works for us may not work for you because babies are like snowflakes, each one is different. It may take some time to figure out what works for your family. I know I overwhelmed my husband with too many diaper systems and not knowing how to work each one. I personally do prefer Happy Heinys when it comes to a pocket diaper and really love the Flip system. I also like Velcro/Aplix to snaps because they are quicker and easier. I do wonder if Orion will be able to undue the Velcro eventually.

I only started using cloth diapers 8 months ago and am still learning each and every day. I hope to offer some more in depth diaper reviews in the future. I often think my diaper stash is complete but then I see something that I really want to try out. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! And no, no one paid me or gave me anything to write this post. I did it for the love of the cloth. I will be taking a break from this subject but with Earth Day coming up and the Great Diaper Change, I wanted to take some time to focus on cloth diapers.

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