One of my very favorite things about becoming a mama is cloth diapering. It's difficult to explain to people who don't cloth diaper, but it really does make me feel like I am doing something extra special for my baby, for the earth, and for our budget.
You see, since I cloth diapered BBZ, diapering is now almost completely free. Considering I spent $80 on disposable diapers during the first 5 weeks LBZ was alive, I know I am saving a huge amount of money by using cloth.
I am writing this post first to spread the love I have for this very simple process, but also to enter a contest to win 12 Bum Genius diapers for me AND 12 Bum Genius diapers for a friend from Cotton Babies!
I'd like to start with a little history of my experience with cloth diapering (CDing).
I started using cloth when BBZ was 6 months old. I started with g-diapers, which were ok, but not exactly what I hoped they would be. I then found some off-brand pocket diapers on ebay that I loved and lasted all through BBZ's diapering. I steered away from Bum Genius (BG) because they only had Velcro closure, which I didn't like. I actually bought a lot of 24 BG 3.0s on Craig's List when I first started and they ended up being nasty in the washer and leaked like crazy. I later found out that the elastic was probably shot and who knows how they were washed, so long story short, brand new cloth diapers are always better than used, if at all possible.
So when BG came out with the 4.0 which came with a snap option, I was in CDing heaven. I bought a few for BBZ that I used in large rotation with the off-brand ones I had. The off brand ones lost their elasticity faster, but were very comparable to the BG 4.0s.
Now I said that buying used diapers isn't the best idea, but please note that I have only paid full price (about $18) for only one of the cloth diapers I own (and that was a baseball diaper Cotton Babies did during the Cardinals World Series and I couldn't help myself.)
Buying new doesn't necessarily mean paying full price. I either buy seconds, which are second rate diapers significantly marked down, or I got a pack of buy 5 get one free when Cotton Babies has a sale. I bought a few at a time and have stocked up to a pretty decent stash of about 28 diapers. I do wash every other day.
So I'd like to do my best to show my CDing routine. I hope it conveys how simple this process really is. It is seriously just as easy as disposable plus a few extra loads of laundry. Here we go...
This is the way the diapers look when I get them out of the laundry.
Since LBZ is so little, I have the one-size diapers set on the smallest setting, so I first have to re-snap the diaper inserts to the smallest setting. I could leave them snapped through the dryer, but they dry better and faster if I un-snap them.
I have to stuff the diapers, and this is what the insert will look like inside the cover...
I do this for the whole load...
Until they look like this...
Then they go here...
In my cloth diapering station. Doesn't look much different than disposable diapers, do they? :)
So here is LBZ wearing a dirty Bum Genius 4.0, my diaper of choice.
I take it off like a regular diaper,
Remove the insert by pulling it out of the back pocket,
And throw it in the diaper pail, which is lined by a washable wetbag. Not much different than a trashcan, huh?
Then I put a new one on and snap in into place.
Another very affordable and just a little bit more complicated option is the prefold and diaper cover diapering system. I use these when I need an extra laundry day or if LBZ has a bad diaper rash (which rarely happens). I can use diaper cream with the 4.0s, which I will show later. These prefolds are only $1.50 each and the covers can be found for around $7 each.
You fold the front together...
And sit his cute little bum on the open part. Pull the front up,
And pull the corner from behind.
Pull the other corner to the front from the back and attach the snappi (a plastic piece that has teeth on it that hold the prefold on).
And there you go!
Next, slide a diaper cover (LBZ is wearing a Flip cover from Cotton Babies) under his bottom.
Snap it around the prefold.
See how the prefold is sticking out? You need to tuck this in so there are no leaks.
See?? All set. I bought the prefold diapers this time around to use before LBZ fit into the BG 4.0s. I bought the infant size rather than the newborn size, so I really didn't like how bulky these were. He now fits into them great, but he fits into the BGs great too. If I had to do it over again, I would have bought the newborn prefolds to use during that first month.
I think that many people are reluctant to cloth diaper because of the added laundry. I love doing laundry, so maybe that's one reason why I really don't mind it too much. I also do laundry just about every day anyway, so an added load every other day isn't really that much work.
Since LBZ is exclusively breastfed, I can throw the poopy diapers directly into the wash without cleaning off the poop. If he ate formula or when he begins eating any solid food, I will need to somehow remove the poop from the diaper before putting them into the washing machine. For that I will use this...
Cotton Babies makes a diaper sprayer that connects to the back of the toilet, but we just used a sprayer like those that hook onto a sink. I think it works great, but it would be nice to have a place on the wall for it to hook onto like the one Cotton Babies makes.
So whether they go directly into the wash or get sprayed off first, this is my laundry routine...
Remember where that blue dirty diaper landed? This is a diaper pail from Cotton Babies. I used an old diaper champ with BBZ, but since this was going to sit in his room rather than in the bathroom, I wanted to have a better one for controlling odor. I love this one. So then I have 2 diaper pail liners, or wetbags, which can go right into the washer with the diapers.
I start by doing a cold prewash. This rinses all of the pee and poop off of the diapers so they don't just move around in dirty water.
Then I do a hot wash with an extra rinse.
You have to use certain laundry detergent with your cloth diapers. I actually prefer the Bum Genius brand, but I ran out and decided to use up this Planet brand that I had from a long time ago. The Bum Genius brand is designed for cloth diapers and has a measuring cup that takes the guessing out of how much to use. I use that measuring cup with this detergent until I run out, then I'll go back to the BG brand.
When the wash cycle is done, I separate the inserts from the covers and un-snap them.
The inserts go into the dryer with the wetbag and some dryer balls. I don't use fabric softener with the inserts.
I tumble dry them on low for 40-60 minutes.
And hang dry the covers. If I am in a rush, I'll tumble dry the inserts completely. If not, I'll add those to the top of this drying rack to completely dry them.
Then they are ready to stuff again! Go back to the "wearing" section to see what happens next!
Once a month I add 1/4 cup bleach to the wash. This keeps them fresh and smelling good after the wash. I haven't had to "strip" the diapers since I started using the BG detergent, but stripping involves using Dawn dish soap to strip away any detergent build-up that can happen from the frequent washing that is necessary with CDing.
See, that's not so bad is it??
People often worry about how one can possibly CD while on the go with a busy lifestyle. It is really so easy. The worst part might be that I can't fit more than 4 diapers in my diaper bag at a time, but I haven't needed more than that so far, so it hasn't been a problem for me even though I have worried about running out.
I still have room for a change of clothes, wipes, a blanket, a few toys, pants and underwear for BBZ (just in case), a nursing cover and a changing pad. My bag isn't even designed to be a diaper bag, so it would all probably fit better in a different bag too.
One absolute must for CDing is a small wetbag for your diaper bag. You need this so you don't have wet diapers just hanging out in your diaper bag. Mine holds about 6-7 diapers.
Since LBZ is in daycare, I have to communicate this to his classroom, so I put a label on the cream and on the bag of liners like below. So far it has worked great!!
Each brand new BG 4.0 diaper comes with a snap-down pocket insert, as shown above, and also comes with a newborn insert or "doubler". These can be used when the baby is smaller so the diaper won't be so bulky (although they never seemed to hold all of LBZ's pee, even when changed every 2 hours) and I use them as overnight doublers.
Since LBZ (amazingly, wonderfully, and completely unexpectedly) sleeps 10-12 hours/night, he needs something extra to absorb all of that pee. I stuff the doubler into the pocket underneath the snap-down insert like this...
It makes for a pretty thick diaper, but it doesn't really matter since he is just in his bed anyway.
I have chosen not to use cloth wipes. I like having wet wipes around and haven't made the switch, but I'm thinking about trying them. The worst part about not using them is that I have to separate the wipe from the diaper during the diaper change. I would be easier to just throw the wipe in the pail with the diaper, but I'm not there yet :)
Another extra that is nice to have are these Hemp Babies inserts. Hemp is extremely absorbent and also very thin, so they are great to add even more absorbency to a cloth diaper.
I used these with BBZ for his nap time diaper at daycare. I wrote "nap time diaper" on a clothes pin and hooked it to the diaper with the Hemp insert added so that his teachers would know which one to put on before his nap. It worked perfectly!
As I mentioned, cloth diapering has been for me one of the very best things about becoming a mama. I love that it takes just a little bit of extra effort and makes such a big difference. I love that I go onto a bathroom to change LBZ's diaper and leave without leaving anything behind. I love that he gets to wear cute and colored cloth on his bum. I love that I won't have to spend one dime on diapering him, especially if I decide to make the switch to cloth wipes. Basically, I love to cloth diaper.
If anyone wants to talk more about this, please email me! I love this topic and want to spread the word about how easy, inexpensive, and wonderful cloth diapering can be for any family.
As I mentioned, I am also entering a contest by writing this post. I received no compensation for this and whole-heartedly believe everything I wrote. Click here to read about the contest! If you are interested in winning the 12 BG 4.0s as a friend of mine, you have to comment. I don't solicit comments, but those are the rules if you want to play :)