I’ve had some questions about our experience using cloth diapers so I ran a little Instagram poll a few weeks ago and asked if you would be interested in a blog post about it, and you were! I’m excited to share a little more about our choice to use cloth, which diaper system we’re using, what we do with the poo, and what products help make cloth diapering a little easier for us.
Before I get into things, I am not a cloth diapering expert, I don’t think cloth is the best choice for every family, and we’ve only been doing this for a few months with a breastfed baby so it’s been pretty easy so far. We still have a long way to go before this babe is out of diapers, and I know things will get worse when we introduce foods.
Our decision to use cloth diapers…
I never really had a lot of exposure to cloth diapering. My parents used cloth diapers for me when I was a baby, but it was all prefold diapers, covers, and pins back then and they used a laundry service (they pick up the dirty diapers and drop off clean ones). I never babysat for a family who used cloth, and I only know one other mama in my personal group of friends who used cloth diapers for her kiddos. So, how did I decide to give it a try?
At first, I couldn’t remember where my interest started, but I think it was early in my marriage when we didn’t have a lot of money and I thought I might have been pregnant (I wasn’t). At work one day, waiting for my period to show up, I was using Pinterest for money saving tips with kids and came across cloth diapering. When I discovered the enormous cost of disposable diapers and how much cloth can save, I have to admit I was very intrigued.
I continued to click around on the interwebs and discover additional benefits of cloth diapering.
Good for baby. Disposable diapers contain chemicals which can irritate baby’s skin. There’s also a lower incident of diaper rash in babies using cloth diapers.
Good for the environment. There has been some debate about how good for the environment cloth diapers actually are since you need to use clean water to wash them, but even with the water usage, cloth is better. It’s estimated that a single disposable diaper will sit in a landfill for somewhere between 250-500 years before it breaks down. Cloth diapers are used again and again before heading to a landfill, where they take about 5 months to break down and some can even be composted depending on the material.
Good for me. The biggest reason we decided to use cloth diapers was the cost savings. Babies go through SO. MANY. DIAPERS. Depending on the disposable diapers, it can cost upwards of $2500 over 2.5 years to diaper one child. Even with washing, most cloth diaper estimates over the same time period of time are under $800. Plus, there’s no running out of diapers or wipes and having to rush to the store to buy more.
What we use…
I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. BUT I didn’t want to make my life a nightmare. There are lots of different cloth diapers on the market. You can spend a little or you can spend a lot. You can use prefolds and covers, two-in-ones, fitted, all-in-ones, and so on. In the end, we decided to go all-in with the all-in-ones. I did some research and decided that the BumGenius all-in-one diapers would work best for our family. They’re super simple to use because the diaper is in one piece. There are no inserts or covers- the entire diaper comes off and gets changed at each diaper change, similarly to a disposable. This brand snaps together and has multi-snap settings to adjust to fit babies between 8-35 pounds (they make special newborn diapers too).
It’s true that getting started with cloth diapers is a little more of an up-front investment. To help with the inital cost, we added diapers to our baby registry and prayed we’d be gifted some diapers from our families and friends. I registered for 24 all-in-one diapers (the recommended number). We were gifted 14 cloth diapers and ended up only purchasing 5 additional for a total of 19 all-in-one diapers in our stash. I wash diapers every 1-1.5 days and our supply doesn’t run out.
After consulting my one mama friend who used cloth diapers, I decided to also use cloth wipes. She said if you’re going to be doing laundry anyway, you might as well use cloth wipes. We use these flannel wipes. We use a few sprays of this bottom wash diluded with water at each diaper change. If I know it’s going to be a messy diaper, I wet a flannel wipe with warm water from the sink.
The diaper change…
We selected the all-in-one style diaper because of the simplicity. It’s so easy, anyone can do it. The diaper change is basically the same as with a disposable diaper.
We unsnap the dirty diaper, use the flannel wipes and bum wash to clean the baby. The dirty diaper and the wipes go into our diaper pail (we use these washable cloth liners) and we grab a fresh diaper and snap it on. That’s it.
When we leave the house, I use this wet/dry bag to carry clean diapers and wipes. It has a zippered pouch for dirty diapers too and washes easily in the laundry. For overnight trips, we’ll likely use disposable so that we don’t have to transport too many dirty diapers. (It’s not good to let them sit for longer than 2-3 days before washing.)
What about leaks? One thing I love about cloth diapers is that we’ve had less leaking. With disposables, our baby boy was peeing out the top of his diaper (even when we pointed his manhood due south) and would sometimes have poop leak out of the legs. We’ve had significantly less leaking with cloth diapers. Even if the poop runs to the edge of the diaper, it stays in the diaper.
How we clean them…
I started using Norwex laundry soap but switched a few weeks ago to Charlie Banana soap to see if I liked it better. Right now I start a load of diapers every morning. In 24 hours we usually have an average of 8 diapers to wash. I put all the diapers and wipes into the washer along with the washable pail liner (this pack comes with two- one to use and one to wash).
A note about breastfed babies: Breastmilk is water soluble and breaks down in the wash. Because we are exclusively breastfeeding, we do not need to rinse dirty diapers before putting them in the diaper pail or into the wash. That makes this stage of cloth diapering pretty easy.
I usually shake the diapers open in the washer so they clean a little more easily. Our diapers are all-in-ones so they don’t come apart. When they go into the diaper pail they get sort of folded, so this just helps unfold and open them for washing.
I set the washer to large load (you might think a small load due to size, but it’s better to have more water to dissolve the mess and give the diapers room to move around to get clean) with a second rinse on the ‘heavy’ setting with one scoop of Charlie’s laundry soap. I wash them once in cold water and a second time in warm water.
Once the diapers are clean, I put them in the dryer with the wipes and tumble them with wool dryer balls until they’re mostly dry. The wipes usually dry all the way and I hang the damp diapers on a drying rack to finish drying completely.
The washing hasn’t been bad at all so far. I don’t mind doing an extra load a day, and Mathew helps with the diaper laundry as well. (Seriously, if my husband is willing to help wash dirty diapers, it can’t be that bad).
Future Cloth Diapering…
Like I mentioned at the start of this post, we have a long way to go before Benjamin is out of diapers. Between now and then, we’ll be introducing food other than breastmilk. The diapers will get messier and stinkier and they won’t be quite as easy to wash.
We also haven’t experienced diaper rash yet. With cloth diapers, you can’t just use any diaper rash cream because the cream could ruin the diaper. Right now I have coconut oil on hand which I know will wash out okay.
For future poops, we do have a diaper sprayer (another thing we were gifted from our baby registry). This is a water hose that can attach to the toilet and help get poo from the diaper into the toilet to flush before the diaper goes into the diaper pail and into the toilet.
Another option for bigger baby poo is to use flushable diaper liners. These are biodegradable, flushable liners that go in the diaper, trap the poo, and can be thrown into the diaper to eliminate the need to spray out the diaper. I’m planning on giving them a try once we get to that stage.
Also, if we experience a heavy wetter during nighttime or naptime, we may try adding an insert (these ones) for an extra layer of absorbency. It’s nice to have that option, even with the all-in-one. (Also, these diapers allow us to fold the attached inserts for more absorbency in the front for our little boy).
What we love so far…
The savings! So far we haven’t had to invest a lot of our own money into diapering because of our family and friends generously gifting us most of our diapering supplies. It’s nice not to have to go to the store to buy diapers and wipes on the regular. We hope that these diapers will sustain us throughout Benjamin’s time in diapers, and hopefully, we can take well enough care of these diapers to use them when we decide to have another baby.
The diapers are pretty cute. I won’t lie, they’re bulky. Sometimes Benjamin looks a bit pear shaped with his padded bottom half. But, the bright colors are fun and soft and seem a lot more comfortable for baby’s bum than paper disposable diapers.
I already mentioned that these diapers leak less! This has resulted in fewer outfit changes and fewer emergency trips to the bathtub. Also, so far we haven’t had any problems with diaper rash or skin irritation.
Benjamin seems pretty happy with them. I love using them. My husband and I both love the savings. My mom even loves them and loves to change Benjamin’s diaper when she comes over (it’s the truth!).
I’m linking all the products we’ve loved for cloth diapers so far below along with some fun colors and prints in the style diaper we use. Please let me know if there is something I may have missed that you were wondering about or anything I can clarify. I’m happy to update this post and even write a follow-up once we get a little further along in our cloth diaper journey.
Was this helpful to you? Have you ever considered using cloth diapers? What would it take for you to make the switch? Were you expecting something more complicated, or did you know it could be this simple?