Cloth diapering is definitely gaining in popularity. There is so much good information online about getting started with cloth diapers, choosing the style for your kiddo, care of cloth diapers, and more!
I’m by no means an expert on cloth diapers, but now that we’ve been using (and washing!) them for more than two years, I thought I would share how it works for us.
Our motivation for cloth diapering was about 99% frugality. Everyone makes his or own decisions and concessions about cost and where to cut corners. For us, this was an easy choice. I know plenty of other parents who cut corners or save money in other ways, but cloth diapering was really something we could get behind.
The other possible 1% motivation was that cloth seemed more gentle for our sweet girl. We liked that by cloth diapering we got to avoid the chemicals that are often found in disposable diapers (sposies). Again, this was just a personal preference. My skin is pretty sensitive, and we’ve found that Poppy’s skin is very similar to mine. So, our foresight here regarding Poppy panned out.
We decided early on that we liked bumGenius diapers, and we adored the idea of the one-size diaper. When we ordered our stash, we didn’t follow ANY of the rules you’ll see elsewhere about buying a few different kinds or styles of diapers and experimenting with what works best. We simply tried to think logically about our purchasing decision and committed. Consider that foolish, stubborn (absolutely ;), or just plain lucky, but it worked well enough for us!
Actually, when we ordered our stash, we actually thought we were buying all-in-one (AIO) diapers, which are essentially the closest cloth style to sposies that you can get. AIO diapers require no stuffing and are usually secured with snaps or velcro.
What we actually ordered were bumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket diapers with snaps (our preference over velcro). And, it was a happy mistake because we grew to appreciate having the pocket that we could stuff with different liners to accommodate our growing girl! Our diapers came with a newborn (small) insert and a larger insert. At different points in Poppy’s time in these diapers, we used the inserts in different proportions. After she turned a year old, we started looking into buying new, more absorbent inserts to use, too.
The Maintenance Routine
Can I just say that using cloth diapers on a breastfed baby worked wonderfully? They cleaned very easily and any “staining” was easily sunned out.
We have basically followed the same routine throughout: rinse on cold, wash on hot with cloth diaper safe detergent (see below), and rinse again on cold. We line dried the diapers as much as possible to sun them bright white, but machine drying them worked great, too.
We have washed every other day for the most part, and we store our diapers in a regular trash can with a lid.
When we first purchased our stash, we ordered the bumGenius detergent. We were happy with it, but we had also heard good things about Country Save detergent. Our local grocery store carried Country Save, and it was inexpensive, so we switched. When our store stopped carrying it, I believe we bought another round of the bumGenius detergent before settling on Tide original powder. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Tide, but it’s worked well for us. We just be sure to buy the very original/basic formula. Any brighteners, scents, etc, are bad for diapers (and sometimes the babies!)
Because of the mixed reviews, when I found myself in a baby boutique last summer, I decided to try the Rockin’ Green detergent they had. Ultimately, I had to stop using that detergent and return to Tide, though. The Rockin’ Green gave Poppy’s diapers a pungent ammonia smell that didn’t wash out. So, we’re still using the Tide original.
The Diaper Cream
We have always used Triple Paste or California Baby diaper creams as needed and have not had any issues with either of those two creams affecting Poppy’s diapers. We intentionally do not use Desitin or A&D and some of the other “common” creams because they are not safe with cloth diapers.
For the record, too, we have needed to use very little diaper cream while having Poppy in cloth. Overwhelmingly, we just use diaper cream for overnight when she is in a sposie for several hours (in which case, obviously, you could use whatever cream you wanted).
We used sposies for Poppy until she was about 8 weeks old or so. Until that point, it seemed she was too small for the cloth diapers. If we ever diaper another newborn, I’ll be checking into the smaller, newborn styles; but, for our first time, we were happy with the way it worked for us. When we made the switch to cloth diapers, it was an easy switch to use cloth wipes, too. Again, it proved to be one less thing to buy, and I liked that the cloth wipes were more gentle for her sensitive skin.
There are many cloth wipe recipes out there, whether you’re using cloth or just homemade wipes. We settled on regular water, and we couldn’t be happier.
I bought white flannel, cut them into roughly 6×8″ squares, and hemmed the edges. I hemmed them to make sure they’d hold up, but you wouldn’t have to if you didn’t mind dealing with the fraying and/or needing to replace them.
Poppy was a tiny 6 lbs 1 oz when she was born – 15th percentile; but she quickly gained to 90th percentile and stayed there the rest of her first year. Our big baby had an even bigger bottom with the cloth diapers she wore! I know different styles fit differently, but it didn’t bother us too much that her diapers were somewhat bulky sometimes. Mostly, the only thing it affects are her jeans; and she doesn’t wear jeans too often anyway.
There are many, many wonderful nighttime cloth diapering options out there. We just never bit the bullet and dove in to find the right fit for us. I am pretty sure we started using sposies overnight as a way to cloth diaper and still use up the sposies that had been gifted to us. We have never strayed from that plan!
It’s proven true for us that sposies are more absorbent, so we liked not having to change Poppy overnight or waking up to wet sheets. Yes, it means we do still spend money on diapers, but using them at the rate of 1/day instead of 6-8/day makes a big difference!
The Days Away From Home
For day trips or quick overnight trips, the only difference between using cloth or disposables is basically the amount of space that the cloth diapers take up verses the sposies. And, since we used cloth wipes, we sometimes brought a bottle of water if we knew water would otherwise be difficult to come by. We bought a size medium Planet Wise wet bag (a waterproof bag) to store the dirty diapers in, and we washed it basically every time that we washed the diapers. For what it’s worth, it’s showing the wear, but after two years of near daily use, I am satisfied with how it’s held up!
For weekend trips, we had to think ahead. Thankfully, most of our weekend trips were to visit my parents, and they had no issue with us washing diapers as needed. And, with 17-22 diapers and a couple of sposies for overnight, we could often make it through a weekend without needing to wash anyway. Yet, if washing were not possible, then we’d either leave the cloth at home or just supplement with sposies. No big deal. We have a large size Planet Wise wet bag that we use for weekends away (or longer!)
Diapering a toddler has been a bit different than diapering an infant. On the “pros” side, the one-size has sure proven itself. It still amazes me that Poppy wears the same diapers that she did when she was so super tiny!
Our only real struggle with cloth has been the annoying leaks. We struggled with leaks more as Poppy got older, and we ultimately had to buy more absorbent liners to use in her diapers. We also try to check her diaper frequently to keep it from getting super saturated (not a bad thing, in my opinion, as it surely keeps her skin healthier!) Recently, we’ve also switched to using sposies during her nap time, too. Again, not really a big deal in the big scheme of things, but leaks are annoying! I’m sure we could have dealt with the problem more effectively, but I guess we found what worked for us!
Honestly, I haven’t calculated our savings by using cloth diapers for two years. It would be really cool to do so sometime, though. I’m sure I’d be pleased with what I found. What I do know, however, is that by the time we spent the $270 on our cloth diaper stash when Poppy was still quite young, we calculated that we had already spent roughly the same on disposables.
I know that’s not a fair way to continue to calculate our savings. Those early days, we went through so many diapers ensuring that our newborn’s bottom stayed clean. Still, it was a real eye-opener for us and helped incentivize us to stay the course with the cloth.
Do you use cloth diapers? What works best for you? If you don’t use them, have you ever considered trying them?