March 9, 2010

On cloth diapers

When I tell people we're using cloth diapers, they often think I'm crazy. I know when I used to hear about it, I thought it was crazy. But most of the time, people are still thinking of the old school diapers, diaper pins and rubber pants. In fact, at many popular baby stores, that's ALL they sell. I can't even believe that people still use diaper pins.

Cloth diapers have come a long way in the last 10 - 20 years . . . so far that the options are overwhelming! When I started researching and trying to decide what we'd use, I was totally overwhelmed by the options. Pockets, prefolds, all-in-ones, organic, covers, fitted diapers . . . I had no idea what to buy and where to begin.

Fortunately, I have an old friend from high school who opened a cloth diaper store and she was able to talk me through it. I highly recommend shopping on her site. Shipping is incredibly fast and it's a mom-owned business . . . and you know how fond I am of mom-owned businesses.

The way I see it, there are really three main options when choosing cloth diapers. . .

1. Prefolds or fitted diapers with covers. In this case, you use a cloth diaper with a separate cover over it. When you change the baby, you can change out the diaper and as long as the cover isn't soiled, you can re-use it.

2. Pocket Diapers. With these, the diaper is two pieces . . . a cover with an insert stuffed in the pocket.

3. All-in-ones. One diaper, one piece . . . the most like disposables.

I won't go into what I know about each of these, because you can find it all on Emily's site.

I'll just tell you what I did . . . and then I'll tell you what I would do if I could do it all over again knowing what I know now.

24 - Indian Prefolds
We loved the prefolds and covers. For the first few weeks, when it seems like you go through a diaper every hour or two, it was the easiest (and cheapest) way to diaper. Ben was big enough for the pocket diapers right from the beginning, but we still used the prefolds because we liked them so much.

2 - Thirsties duowrap cover
Loved these.

1 - Thirsties cover
This, too.

1 - Bummi's Super Whisper Wrap (I actually won this on a blog giveaway).
Liked this, too.

8 - Bum Genius 3.0 Pocket Diapers
We ended up buying more of these after we decided that we liked them. They work well for us and we don't really have any complaints. But it was kind of an "ignorance is bliss" thing because if we could do it over, we found that we like a different diaper MUCH better than these.

We actually used the Bum Genius diapers with Jack for a while until Bennett was born, but at that point the laundry with two kids in cloth got overwhelming, so we switched back to disposable for Jack.

2 - Snappis
We used these maybe twice. It was easier and just as effective to use the cover to keep the diaper closed and we never had any trouble with it.

3 - Wet Bags
We bought three wet bags in different sizes and use them when we travel.

I originally took some of Jack's old receiving blankets and cut those up to use as wipes.

As I experimented and talked to other moms, I tried new products and sent Emily a million e-mails, we finally figured out what we liked best and here's exactly what I would buy if I were to do it all over again.

24 - Indian prefolds . . . we did buy larger prefolds and covers now that Ben is bigger, but we rarely use them.

4 - Thirsties covers
While I've grown to like diapers with snaps best, I think the velcro covers would be easier if you don't use a snappi.

12 - Fuzzibunz Perfect Size Diapers (and I would have added more later) 12 - Fuzzibunz Freetime Diapers
We thought we loved Bum Genius 3.0s. And we did . . . until we tried Fuzzibuns. I didn't think I'd like snaps, but they provide a much better fit than the velcro does. AND, the velcro always seems to cut into Ben's belly and cause them to be a little more stiff but the snaps don't do that at all. I noticed that when he was in the BG 3.0s he seemed to move less, have a harder time sitting up and didn't roll over as easily. The Fuzzibuns are less bulky and seem to be a little softer, too.

We did try the Fuzzibunz One-size diapers and we like those, too. But adjusting the elastic just seems a little cumbersome and they don't seem to fit any better than the perfect size diapers.

Edited to add (on 8/20/2013):  With baby #2 we sold all of our Bum Genius Pocket diapers and Fuzzibunz and used the Bum Genius Freetime.  Those were perfect for us.  No complaints at all.

We do like the BGs but I wish we had tried the Fuzzbunz sooner, before we put so much money into the Bum Genius diapers. We also tried Happy Heineys and DO NOT like them at all.

4 - Bum Genius All-In-One
Sweet mercy . . . I love these diapers. If you can afford it, you might just buy these and skip pocket diapers altogether. They're so convenient and perfect for babysitters and times when you're on the go. We bought 4 of these for Ben for Christmas and I might end up buying a few more. They're absorbent, soft and the perfect diaper. The best part? No diaper stuffing needed. Just wash and throw them back in the diaper drawer!  Edited to add (on 8/20/2013): I still love these.  If budget allowed, I'd still use these only.

20 - Fuzzibunz Wonder Wipes
I mentioned that I cut up Jack's old receiving blankets and used them as wipes . . . and they worked ok. Originally, these wipes seemed so expensive. I broke down and bought some before Christmas, and I kid you not . . . they made me wish I could use them because they're so soft! They are well worth the investment.

1 - Honey Chunks
We disolve these in water and add them with our wipes into the Wipes Warmer that we used to use with our disposable wipes. If you must go organic, that's fine, but the regular smell AMAZING. We also added some of this solution to a small spray bottle for the diaper bag.

1 - Magic Stick
Even if we switched back to disposable diapers today, I would continue to use this for diaper rash prevention. It works so much better than any diaper rash cream we ever tried (and we literally tried dozens with Jack). Plus, I love that you just spread it on . . . no messy fingers!

3 - Wet bags
These are a must-have for traveling with cloth diapers. If you have old grocery bags, you can recycle them to use for this purpose, but it is nice just being able to throw the wet bag in with the diapers.

If you're wanting to buy the bare minimum to get started, I'd get the prefolds, covers, wipes and Magic stick.

We use our Diaper Dekor Plus Diaper Disposal System that we used with Jack's disposables. We had someone on etsy make us custom liners for it and it works perfectly. The down side is that it doesn't hold as many diapers as normal diaper pails, but because we have an HE washer (more on that below) we can't wash as many diapers at once as the larger diaper pails would hold.


  • The diaper rash that Jack had been dealing with for MONTHS went away within a week of using cloth with him. Totally gone. We had used every over the counter ointment and two prescription ointments and it would clear up, but always come back. We stopped using the creams and started using the diapers and it was completely gone. I honestly think this is the reason that Jack preferred cloth. The only diaper rash Ben has experienced was while he was wearing dispoable.
  • This is kind of superfluous, but Jack really liked the fun colors. I didn't think he'd care, but he liked being able to choose which color diaper he wanted.
  • I was skeptical about cost savings, because I wondered how much it would add to our bills because of all of the laundering. The savings is significant. We still buy disposables for when we take him to the nursery at church or when we have babysitters, but we've spent so little on disposables, we've already seen the savings. I wondered if we'd see a spike in energy costs because of all the laundry, but it hasn't been an issue.
  • The waste factor. Again, I was skeptical about how much waste it really saved. You use A LOT of water and energy to wash the diapers. A disposable diaper company put out a study that showed that the amount of resources taken to wash cloth diapers outweighed the amount of waste from disposable diapers. HOWEVER, the study assumed that people using disposable diapers scraped the poo from the diapers into the toilet. Yes, you're supposed to do that even with disposables. But do you know ANYONE who actually does? I do not.

    Also, the study doesn't even mention the water footprint left by making the diapers. It takes an insane amount of water to produce a disposible diaper. THis isn't factored into their study at all.

  • First of all, if you can't handle extra laundry, cloth diapers aren't for you. My friend, Sarah, said something about it when I first started (because she hates doing laundry) and I didn't think much of it. I don't mind laundry, but if I did, cloth diapers would be awful.

    Cloth diapers + HE washers = HUGE pain in the rear. Plus, with a septic system, you're not supposed to use powdered laundry detergent, so we have to spend a little more to get the right kind of liquid. But, we finally have a routine figured out and it doesn't really seem like a big deal anymore.
  • When we started cloth diapering with Jack, we were to the point where I didn't need to carry a diaper bag anymore. I stuck a disposable and a wipes case in my bag and that was it. Wen we went to cloth, I was back to carrying a diaper bag (cloth diapers, wipes and wet bag didn't fit as well in my purse).
  • In order to make it absorbent enough for Jack, the diapers were very bulky. They're bulkier on Ben, too. I wondered if there would ever be a study that showed that children in cloth diapers hit milestones more slowly than children in disposables because Ben had such a hard time moving in them. BUT, using Fuzzibunz was the answer to that question.
  • Chaffing. More poor little baby's legs started chaffing badly at about 3 weeks or so. We switched to disposable for a week, then switched back and we've never had the problem again!


Mud and Grace said...

I started out with cloth diapers and really wish I could have kept it up! I bought a few Indian pre-folds and thirsty covers and still use the pre-folds for burp cloths. But soon tried bum genius bamboo fitted diaper! What I loved about these were that they were amazingly soft, had Velcro tabs that didn't even touch my baby's belly and I could get by with 3 thirsties just by wiping out and reusing! I agree about the diaper rash, seldom happened in a cloth diaper (unless it is caused by food allergy.) My hat is off to all moms who use cloth. Maybe next time I can keep it up longer!

sara luke said...

Yeah, the velcro on the BG's doesn't touch Ben, but it makes it stiffer and keeps him from moving as well.

Emily said...

Great Post!! Sara, my favorites are Fuzzi Bunz Perfect Size and Bum Genius Organic All in Ones too :) Can I link this post to No Pins Required facebook?

sara luke said...

Sure thing, Emily! No problem.

ann said...

Hey! I'm so glad you're sticking with it and enjoying it.

I'm going nine months strong with Josiah on only BG 3.0s. I probably won't try any others because, as you said, "ignorance is bliss."

I have sooo been meaning to try the Magic Stick, though. What is my problem? I just need to order some.

Laura Piatt said...

This is GREAT information. I decided a long time ago (ok, like a year or two ago) that when we have kids, I totally want to cloth diaper. This may be TMI, but I use the feminine supplies made by one of the cloth diaper companies. I LOVE them. I'm definitely going to keep this post in mind when it comes time for me to research and actually buy. You probably answered a lot of questions I would have been asking down the road. :o)

Melissa Hoffman said...

great post! learned a lot. I'm not sure what we are going to do about diapering yet but I am so glad to have this info! Very helpful! you rock.

Chad and Emily said...

Hey, I'm Nicole Snyder's sister-in-law and she forwarded this post to me. I use Mother-Ease Diapers and they are absolutely wonderful. We use the One-Size diapers with seperate covers. I have 24 diapers, 12 liners (snap those in for night time) and 4 covers.
Anyway, just wondered if you ever tried them.
Great post!

Anonymous said...

I used the Mother Ease One Size and loved them...never felt the need to try anything else. After two babies I passed them right on down the line. There are so many fun prints and different kinds of dipes that I kinda wish I had experimented a bit but loved the ME so much that I never wandered.

Mirm said...

Debbie Luke sent me the link to your blog because I was asking questions about cloth diapers.
Great info. What kind of detergent did you end up using with the HE front loader?

-Miriam Q