Of all the parenting choices we/I have made over the last year, cloth diapering got the most exclamations of, “OMG WOW ARE YOU REALLY GONNA DO THAT?!” So I’m mildly proud to say, Yeah, we did that. But honestly, cloth diapering was not that difficult. Changing a cloth diaper really isn’t very different from changing a disposable diaper, especially if you get pocket diapers or all-in-ones that just snap together like a disposable diaper with no folding involved.
Our Cloth Diapering Stash
We started out with prefolds and covers, since that was the most cost effective option (the covers can be reused a few times if they aren’t pooped on). A lot of people in the local cloth diaper group recommended buying a few different styles to see what works best, so I ended up with a grab bag of brands. My favorite this year was probably the Flip cloth diaper cover, which seemed to give us the best overall fit. We also had several Bumkins covers which I liked for the double gussets in the leg. I picked up about half a dozen Alvababy pocket diapers along the way in an attempt to find an overnight cloth option. The pockets didn’t work for overnight, but they’re handy to use with the babysitter. Then there’s a few random brands in our rotation. Our prefolds were also a smorgasbord; I started with Green Mountain Diapers handed down from a friend, and bought some Imagine and no-name brands in larger sizes throughout the year. All told, I cloth-diapered Fire Monkey for the first year with approximately 15 covers, 24 newborn prefolds, 18 small prefolds, 10 medium prefolds, and 10 bigger medium prefolds. (Compare that to, I dunno, 2500+ disposables if we hadn’t done cloth.) I also got 3 small wet bags for on the go, and a large pail liner.
Fit and Effectiveness
The Flip was my overall favorite. The Bumkins were nice for the double gusset but they had a weird dip in the front which sometimes caused the prefold to stick out over the top of the diaper and get his onesie wet. I did notice that the pocket diapers tended to have a little more seepage around the legs, maybe because there’s a layer of semi-absorbent fabric going all the way to the edge, whereas the covers aren’t absorbent at all. I will say that, as far as I know, we never had a poop-up-the-back blowout with the cloth diapers, but we did occasionally with the disposables. (Yes, we still used disposables regularly…keep reading!)
Storing Dirty Cloth Diapers
This took a little bit of trial and error. Initially, I used a hand-me-down Diaper Champ, which has a turning mechanism in the lid to get the diapers into the bin without opening the lid. I lined this with a medium wet bag, but the cloth prefolds always got jammed in the turner. Then I bought a large kitchen trash can and lined it with a mesh laundry bag because I had read that airflow was good for avoiding stink. Unfortunately that laundry bag did not survive more than a few trips through the laundry. I finally got a Planet Wise pail liner and that’s worked great. The pail doesn’t smell fantastic after a few days, but it’s not nearly as bad as our disposables bin.
Right. This is the part that everyone always wigs out over. Honestly, it isn’t that bad and the first 6 months especially were pretty easy. Exclusively breast-fed poo is totally water soluble, so I just chucked everything into the diaper pail and threw it in the washer on laundry day. After introducing solids, though, things got a lot stickier and stinkier. I honestly would not blame anyone for quitting cloth after solids enter the picture, because you have to spray or otherwise wash off poo before you put it through the washer. We didn’t get a diaper sprayer, so I just put on some rubber gloves and dunk the poopy diapers in the toilet until most of the solids come off. It doesn’t smell great. But again, it’s not as bad as the disposables trash. Fortunately, my child is courteous enough to *usually* do just one big poo per day. I wash diaper laundry about every 5 days.
It did take me awhile to nail down a decent wash routine since we have hard water, which meant I did have to strip my diapers a few times. (Super not fun, by the way.) At first I tried to be all cute and green by using a plant-based free and clear liquid detergent, but after about a month, the prefolds were stinky even after I washed them, which meant bacteria were growing in them. No bueno! Into the bleach soak and mineral strip solution they went. I ultimately went with Tide Classic powder, as recommended by Fluff Love University, and haven’t had any issues since. If you buy preloved diapers, as I did, you need to bleach soak (and maybe strip) them before putting them on your baby.
We still use disposables.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed using cloth diapers this year. But since very few things in life and especially in parenting are all-or-nothing, we still use disposable diapers. We did all disposables for the first 3 weeks or so, until I could climb the stairs to do laundry without causing myself to bleed. We have continued doing disposables at night, but fortunately he stopped pooping at night altogether around 4 or 5 months, so one disposable was enough to last him all night. I spent about a week trying double-stuffed pocket diapers for overnight, but I was sick of waking up to wet baby, wet clothes, and wet sheets. The Huggies overnight diapers work great for us. We also send him to my parents’ house with disposables because for whatever reason we could not convince them to change him more than once every 4-5 hours, which just doesn’t work even with the most absorbent cloth diapers. And if we’re going to be out and about for awhile, we’ll put a disposable on just to make our lives a little bit easier. In the big picture, we are still drastically reducing the number of diapers we would have otherwise sent to the landfill. We’ve also saved a decent bit of money on diapers this year. Energywise, it might be a wash (hehe) with the resources used for laundering and drying our diapers, but I’m pretty happy with savings in 2 out of 3 areas.
Now, here’s hoping it’s true that cloth diapering will help potty training go faster…
P.S. This post contains affiliate links to things I like, but of course I encourage you to buy preloved whenever possible!