Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101

Although I didn't start cloth diapering until my third child, I have absolutely loved the experience so far with Violet. I've learned a LOT in the past 8 months and I want to share this knowledge with others. Please ask any questions you may have. Hopefully I can answer or help you find an answer in the cloth diapering community!

There are tons of brands of cloth diapers on the market and new WAHM (work at home mothers) brands pop up every day. For every 10 brands of cloth diapers on the market, there is a different way to wash them and for every 5 different ways to wash them, there's a different detergent. Because the combinations and options are almost endless with cloth diapering, I'm just going to go over the brands, accessories and washing method we use. 

Our methods work best for us, but every method is as unique as the baby wearing the diapers. It's best to keep in mind that with cloth diapering, you have to take the time to find your groove. If the first diapers or the first few washing methods you try don't work, don't give up! 

We use one size Kawaii Baby brand cloth diapers. These diapers cost $6.99 per diaper and come with two microfiber inserts, versus other cloth diapers which, on average, cost between $20-$30 a piece. We chose to cloth diaper to save money. Sure it's great for our baby and great for the environment, but those are additional benefits to us on top of the massive amount we save not buying disposables. Our diapers will fit Violet from birth until she is potty trained. I spent $80 on a package deal of 12 diapers, which is plenty for our wash schedule. $80 versus the $2,000-$3,000 spent on disposables from birth to potty training...it's pretty much a no brainer! 

Although Kawaii Baby diapers are considerably less expensive than most other brands of cloth diapers, they work great! I did a lot of research and read a ton of reviews before deciding to go with Kawaii Baby. We've had some leaky moments, but it's generally been user error and not a deficit in the quality of the diaper. 

Kawaii Baby diapers are what is commonly called a "pocket diaper" The diapers consists of a waterproof shell, a soft fleece inner lining and a separate microfiber insert. I prefer pocket diapers over AIOs (all in one diapers where the shell, lining and insert are all sewn together) because I feel like they get cleaner when I remove the insert, they dry faster and we're able to add additional inserts if we need to increase the absorbency when Violet gets older. 

I love these diapers and definitely recommend them to any parents looking to cloth diaper on a budget or maybe just give cloth diapering a try. If you can afford the more expensive brands, knock yourself out, but these diapers have served us wonderfully so far and for the price, we couldn't ask for anything more! You can check out the Kawaii Baby store here. They have package deals and singles up for grabs and it even looks like they have a holiday sale going on right now!

We started cloth diapering when Violet was about a month old. In the above photo she is two weeks old and, as you can see, the cloth diaper is swallowing her up. We used disposables for the first month and still use disposables on occasion (mostly when we travel). 

For our wash method, I use Rockin' Green cloth diaper detergent. Rockin' Green comes in a number of great scents and I have used it since we began cloth diapering. It's usually around $14 a bag, but you only need roughly 2 tablespoons per wash so the bag lasts quite awhile. Violet is almost 8 months and I've only gone through two bags of detergent so far. 

I wash diapers every 2-3 days (I shoot for two, but with three kids and a million things going on, it just doesn't always happen as planned). My method is:

Full Wash Cycle - Cold/Cold
Full Wash Cycle with 2 tablespoons of Rockin' Green - Hot/Cold
Rinse - Cold
Rinse - Cold

Yes, I rinse twice. Although Rockin' Green is all natural, I still like to rinse as much residue off as I can so it doesn't have the chance to irritate our little one's bottom.

I line dry the diapers and inserts. I do this for a few different reasons. First off, it saves money! Air drying is cheaper than running the dryer! Second, I find that it makes our diapers not have a smell. Sometimes after I dry them in the dryer (which I started out doing on rainy days) I found the inserts and sometimes the diapers had the unmistakable ammonia tinted scent of pee. Yuck! The final reason I air dry is because the sun your best defense against staining. All natural and all free! Since it's winter now and line drying isn't really an option, I use an indoor drying rack like this one:

It cost us around $15 and folds up very small when not in use. I really can't wait for the spring, though! I miss the freshness of drying our diapers outdoors.

Like most things, cloth diapering comes with some extras. 

One extra you'll definitely need is a diaper pail or wet bag to hold your dirty diapers between washings. You want something waterproof and, preferably, smell proof (or close to it). We use a wet bag because it just made more sense to me than a diaper pail. 

I recommend Planet Wise wet bags. They come in three different sizes (you'll need smaller wet bags for traveling or just in case!). You can find them on Amazon here. They may seem a little pricey, but the quality is great, they're very durable and you're going to use this item for 3 or so years (maybe more if you cloth diaper more than one child!) so its worth it!

Something else you'll need is a cloth diaper friendly rash ointment. Traditional ointments such as Desitin will cause your diapers to repel liquids rather than absorb them, which will lead to leaky diapers. I recommend Grovia's Magic Stick:

Finally, you have options when it comes to wipes. Most cloth diapering parents use cloth wipes, but not all. We use a combination of my handmade cloth wipes and disposable wipes. Because I handmade my wipes, I can't recommend a particular brand of cloth wipes from experience, but I've heard great things about the OSO Cozy wipes. I've used other OSO Cozy product and had a good experience with them.

Overloaded with information yet? I know it seems overwhelming, but once you find your groove it can become second nature! I am so glad we chose to cloth diaper and I've learned so very much.

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