Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cloth Diapering: My 6 Steps

Cloth diapering really isn't that, really, it isn't!! It just take some practice and flexibility. I've been cloth diapering for almost 3 years and the way I do it today is nothing like I did it when my biggest girl still fit in the crook of my arm (or in size small diapers!).

There are so many different styles and options when it comes to cloth diapering. I can't make any promises that I would have been so successful if my cloth diapering included sharp pins and plastic pants. Today, cloth diapering is all about choices; how many layers do you want, snaps or Velcro, and if you can dream the color - you can have it. And this might be hard to believe, but I have far fewer diaper blowouts in cloth than I do in disposables. 

Here are my 6 steps to cloth diapering:
1) Brand selection
2) What you need
3) Where to purchase
4) Cleaning
5) Flexibility
6) Special tips

If you think cloth diapering may be for you, please read on for details on my 6 steps!!

Step 1) Brand Selection: We use gdiapers and the reason for this is quite simple. A friend of mine used them. She showed me them and gave me a few tips.  Easy enough choice. I was lucky I didn't have to do hours upon hours of research for brand selection. But if you don't have a friend with a success story there are tons of blog posts and reviews on many different styles of diapers. I've never used any other brand so I don't have an opinion on the others but I have a feeling they are most likely pretty comparable in functionality and price. So just start your diaper search and plan for hours of research. Or you just go with gdiapers.

Around 4 weeks old in size small g pants

Step 2) What you need:  You have picked your brand and now it's time to start shopping. Prepare for the start-up cost to be a couple hundred dollars (and just remind yourself of all of the reasons you made this choice!).

Here's your shopping list:

~Minimum of 6-8 diapers: For me these are g pants. Since gdiapers come in size small through extra large we have 8 in each size except for extra large we only have 2 since our toddler is day time potty trained and only wears a "sleep diaper" now.  

~ Plastic snap-in liners: I recommend 2 snap-in liners for every g pant plus 2. i.e. for 8 g pants I have at least 18 snap-in liners. Please note - not all brands have this middle layer.

~ Inserts: This is the part of the diaper that actually catches everything. I recommend combo of cloth and disposable inserts. With gdiapers the disposable inserts can be composted (pee only), flushed, or thrown in the trash if you are outside of the home. We buy these by the case. Then I also have 12 gdiaper brand cloth inserts and about 8 Gerber brand that were home sewn (by a friend) to fit gdiapers. Now that the baby is older we all use the g cloth liners (these go over top cloth inserts) and make clean-up much easier! 


Everything you need can be seen here on my changing table

Left Back: disposable inserts        
Left Front: assembled g pants +                    
                 extra un-assembled pants

Center: extra snap-in liners and seventh generation disposables

Right Front: cloth inserts
Right Back: g cloth liners

Step 3) Where to Purchase: When we first started using gdiapers the majority of my purchases of the g pants and accessories were at I bought some g pants and most of my disposable inserts at the local baby superstore. Nowadays our local stores seem to be phasing gdiapers out of their product line-up so I haven't had much luck with store purchases recently. I usually order something from at least monthly anyway so it was pretty convenient to start shopping for my diapers there. Amazon has a much lower minimum purchase requirement for free shipping than so that became my next favorite. You can also sign up for recurring purchases through Amazon and save a couple dollars but this never worked well for us (we always seemed to find ourselves with either an abundance or too few diaper inserts at any given time).

My favorite online shop now is because you only have to have a $35 minimum purchase for free shipping and shipment is 2 days. I also subscribe to gdiapers e-mail and like gdiapers on Facebook so I'm always aware of sales, new products, or promotions.

Step 4) Cleaning: Figuring out the easiest and most practical way to clean cloth diapers is something I have spent hours upon hours researching.

Here's what I use to clean my diapers:

~ A sprayer that attaches to the toilet for cleaning. It seriously makes the process immensely easier! Just do an Amazon search. It cost around $50 and took my husband about 3 minutes to install. These things get a LOT of use and reviews of the most popular brands have reports of them wearing out. I'm already on my 2nd one. Check the details but most companies will replace them so just save your package materials.

~ Five gallon plastic bucket from the hardware store kept by the potty. No, it's not the fanciest thing but it's cheap and functional. Mine in in a corner and not super noticeable. There is some odor associated with the bucket and I have read others use a wet/dry bag so the diapers can "breathe" and there's less odor. It is often trial and error of what you prefer.

~ A wet/dry bag to keep in the nursery in which to put the compost-able diapers. 

After the diaper change: If it's a disposable pee only I toss it in my compost bag and if the liner or pant is soiled with pee I just hang them over the side of the hamper to air dry and then wash with all the rest of the clothes. For poopy ones I take it directly to the bathroom and spray off any poo and as much pee as possible and then toss them in the bucket until it's full for laundry day. If you're going to flush the disposable inserts you'll also want to keep a swivel stick by the potty. We store ours in our toilet brush holder.

On Laundry Day(s):

I used to wash ALL the diaper layers in their own separate diaper load. But for the 5 months that I had 2 kids in diapers I was doing far too much diaper laundry and it suddenly occurred to me...all of their clothes are covered in pee, poop, spit-up, and who knows what else so I just started washing the snap-in liners and 'lightly' soiled pants with the regular laundry (as mentioned above) but I still choose to do the cloth inserts and poopy snap-in liners in their own load. I've had the most success by the following method:

If you think you have a small load of diapers use enough water for a medium load; if you have a medium load then use enough water for a large load, etc. 

Then do:

- cool rinse
-warm wash using just your regular free and clear laundry detergent (no specialized and expensive cloth diaper detergent required!)
-cool rinse (ensures all detergent out of diapers)

That's all it takes to clean them!!!

5) Flexibility: As a working mom it has always been important to me to be flexible with cloth diapering by knowing that there are times that I will still use disposable diapers and I certainly don't beat myself up about choosing to combo diaper in this way. The majority of the time we cloth diaper. At home we primarily use cloth inserts with the g cloth liners over top. Once your baby starts on solids these top liners are an amazing feature to help with easy clean-up. For sleep we always use disposable inserts because the cloth inserts just don't cut it for our heavy wetters while sleeping. We're very lucky that the girls go to an in-home child care setting (and the provider happens to be my closest girlfriend) so she has been completely open to cloth diapering. She uses the gdiaper disposable inserts and even sends home the pee only ones so we can put them in our compost. And we use our cloth diapers most of the time when we are out and about, as well. We just keep a wet dry bag in the diaper bag at all times. 

But there are the the times that we grab a disposable instead. We use seventh generation diapers (which are definitely our favorite disposable). The truth is that sometimes I get behind on my laundry and I need to use a few disposables while I get them washed. Also, when I have a sick kid with diarrhea I opt for alternating between cloth and disposable. 

We also chose to use disposables while in an airplane flying across the country or going to the pumpkin patch where there are only port-a-potties. I'm really okay with those choices. We have also successfully cloth diapered every single time we have gone on vacation - including camping at 7 months, hiking through the woods multiple times, 4 hour road trips, and while 3000 miles away from home.

6) Special Tip: The biggest mistakes I have made while cloth diapering was using bleach and vinegar as cleaners - both of which wear out the plastic liners. I didn't use bleach regularly; only when they were badly stained but it dramatically shortened their life. 

Fit Tips

-After putting the diaper on lift the edge that goes around the leg and make sure the snap-in liner is laying in the groin right where undies would lay. Otherwise, the baby will get nasty red lines on her legs.

-My kids didn't last long in size small g pants but when we tried medium on them they were HUGE. We learned an awesome tip of using the medium g pant but the small liners and inserts. These were a perfect fit!

The snap-in liners stretch out relatively quickly (average length of use is 9-12 months) but the g pants last a long, long time. The Velcro and snaps may wear out but you can get a repair kit from  

These diapers were worn by 3 girls and then handed down to us from my husband's co-worker. They're now on our second girl. Sure, the Velcro was replaced by purple and black thread, the gs are falling off, and the leg holes are stretched out. But they still work just fine and we also plan to pass them down.

If you do go with g diapers their website has great info and videos on sizing, loading, flushing, and much more. 

So that's absolutely everything I know about cloth diapers! If there are any experienced cloth diapering mamas out there reading this, please share any tips or advice you have learned. Even though I've been cloth diapering for nearly 3 years I'm always looking for ways to improve it. Also - please feel free to ask any questions if you are planning to cloth diaper! Other moms asking questions is how I learned most of the above!

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