July 22, 2010

My Modern Cloth Diaper Experience

When I was pregnant, I decided to read some books about pregnancy. There were two that I really enjoyed that had a "Green" flare: "Raising Baby Green"(Alan Greene) and "Eco-nomical Baby Guide"(Rebecca Kelley and Joy Hatch). As I read these, I thought about how costly disposable diapers are. Then I thought about how much space they take up in the landfill. Then I thought about the materials that make them up. Overall, I decided to look into cloth diapers.

I really had no experience with cloth diapers, nor ever thought I would. But, upon googling cloth diapers and reading hundreds of reviews of all various types, I found what I eventually settled on...FLIP diaper system (http://www.cottonbabies.com/). Here's a great website for cloth diapering 101: http://www.diaperjungle.com/cloth-diaper-guide.html.

This System basically is a kit of diaper covers and inserts. The covers are one-size (8-35 lbs) adjustable covers in various colors that are waterproof inside and snap on the outside. The have elastic leg gussets and front tabs, so they fit well on babies. They're pretty cute too, even though they're large for a little 8 lb-er. The covers alone cost about $14 (free shipping and cheapest cost at cottonbabies.com). I bought three day packs (which each include two diaper covers and 6 inserts).

What I love about this system is that they come with a choice of three inserts: 100% organic cotton prefolds (a square cloth you can fold and lay in the cover), or a rectangular microfiber insert (with terry cloth on the bottom side so it wicks the moisture off baby's bum and to the other side of the insert, against the waterproff layer of the cover), or you can buy the disposable rectangular inserts in case you're travelling and won't be able to wash the cloth inserts for a few days. The cotton prefolds are a little bulkier but most gentle on the skin and very absorbent. The microfiber has a small and medium line sewn in to show you where to fold down if you're baby is smaller. But both of these need to be prewashed before use. The cotton inserts need 3-5 prewashes, while the microfiber only need to be prewashed once.

I have some of each of them. I use the microfiber inserts for daytime use and the organic cotton at night, and the disposable when I'm travelling. My little baby started using them at 8 lbs and 1 month old, and we have yet to use them while he's eating solids, so I haven't had a ton of experience with that yet. I'll keep you updated.

I had to buy a wet-bag (for dirty diapers). So far I've gotten two little bags for my travel diaper bag. I love them so far. They're Kushies brand (see picture later in this post) and the design is adorable. They're probably the size of a sheet of paper, so I can only fit 5 or so inserts in them, but that's fine for travelling. I just throw them in the wash with the inserts. Then I also bought a large diaper wet bag for the diaper pail (covered trashcan). I bought the can at Target with a push button lid (to keep in the stink), and the bag at blueberries.com. I love the yellow and green polka dota bag, but I spent a lot on it because it's the only one that said it could cinch shut or be used as a pail liner. Well...I can't cinch it shut very well at all because the material is always in the way and doesn't let the plastic thing slide very well...you might as well just get the basic Kissa's liner from amazon.com for $15...it will save you money!

When washing the inserts though, they're a little high maintenance. First, you need to wash them every 2-3 days. And, you need to first rinse cold, then wash hot with a second rinse. I don't mind this though, because I can set the washer to do that and I have a lot to wash all the time anyway, with all his spit ups and diaper changing mishaps, etc.

I did buy a new type of "detergent" though, that is environmentally friendly: Charlie's Soap. It has no perfumes, additives, enzymes, etc. In fact, it's just a soap...not a detergent. It's hypo-allergenic, non-toxic and biodegradable and really good for people with sensitive skin or for cloth diapering. So now I've just switched to it. It figures to $.20/load if you just buy the little 2.6 lb bag, but you can buy a huge amt in a bucket and get the cost down to somewhere around $.12/load. And, it makes you clothes feel extra soft, without needing softener. It's very simple and good. You can use it as a pre-ttreater too. There are only three main ingredients: natural washing soda, sodium silicate and coconut oil based ingredients. Plus it's made in the USA, which is becoming more rare.

UPDATE: Charlie's Soap doesn't disinfect! Don't use it unless you plan to also add bleach or something else. Now I'm using Nellie's or Mountain Green. (otherwise Charlie's worked well)

As for cleaning messes...
Luckily baby poop from strictly breast-fed babies is fine to put in the washer, so you just throw the inserts in. However when you start feeding solid foods, you can buy a diaper sprayer to attach to your toilet (really convenient, so you don't have to swoosh diaper in toilet), or you can buy little liners to put on the insert in the diaper and then you just peel that with the solid poop and throw it in the toilet to wash away (it's like a stiff dryer sheet).

For wipes, I just use baby wash cloths for now. I'm going to cut up some recieving blankets and old t-shirts and sew them together. I heard that having the flannel and cotton was good because then you can have a better wipe side and a dry side. I do use a basic little $1 spray bottle of water and with 2 drops of teatree oil (a disinfectant) dilluted with another carrier oil (ex: 1 T olive oil) into 1 cup of water (and you can add 1 T of baby wash or Dr. Bronners Soap too, and/or 1 drop of lavender oil (for the smell and calmness it promotes). (check out my post on homemade diaper wipes/spray and the properties of the spray).

I've heard you can put wipes in the liquid (like a plastic disposable wipes container, and even fold the cloths the same way so they help the next wipe pull up), but you need to change that weekly, because the moist cloth could become mildewed if you're not careful. So...I just use the spray bottle (it's nice for diaper rash too, because you can just spray the bum directly and pat dry, instead of the painful wiping needed). One down side about diaper rash and cloth diapering though, is that I've heard not to use creams on the cloth inserts, because it could stain/ruin the inserts. I'm not sure if this is true for all cloth diapers.

Other uses for cloth diapers. So...if you're interested in either the inserts or the covers, I do know that you can buy the covers and create/buy your own other types of inserts. I just liked that this kit came together so I didn't have to experiment with other cloth diapering stuff (especially since this is my first cloth diapering experience and first baby..I didn't want to be too overwhelmed to begin with but may experiment on future babies' diapering methods).

I've heard these covers also work as swim diapers to hold in the poop, as long as the pool isn't Chlorinated. The Chlorine would break down the PUL waterproof fabric. But our complex has salt in the water instead of Chlorine, so we don't need to worry about that here. We did find a great adjustable, reusable swim diaper we may by called Sun Smarties. They're cute and about $10 per sized diaper you buy (6 mth, 12 mth, etc.).

Anyway...feel free to let me know what you use or to ask questions. If I don't know, I'll look it up.

You could always make your own diaper and inserts...which I hope to eventually do, once I get a little more experience. Here's a site for one-size diaper cover instruction: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2010/03/homemade-one-size-cloth-diaper-pattern-and-wipes-recipe.html

**Update --almost year later
So, I'm still cloth diapering with my almost 1 year old now. Solid foods were a breeze with these. It was just the awkward week or two when the poop wasn't completely solid and wasn't just breast milk, so I couldn't just wash everything anymore. I never used my diaper sprayer, but it would've been handy for that small window/transition period. Otherwise his poop comes off just fine and flushes down the toilet. I've found that it sticks a little more to the organic cotton inserts, so the sprayer would be more useful for those.

I also have to use two inserts for nighttime and prefer the organic cotton on the bottom and microfiber on the top, so he stays a little dry during the long hours. The size of the cover just keeps adjusting to his size and I still haven't had any real problems. The main issues is knowing when to adjust the snaps for the cover to better fit him. I've just recently experienced a few pee-throughs because I hadn't adjusted the diaper cover tall enough, but I've never ever had a poop blowout in these cloth diapers! (And that's more than I can say for the for weeks I've used disposables or vacations.)

Update: baby is now almost 17 months.

We're still using the FLIP diapering system. I've had to use a diaper sprayer (bidet) attached to the toilet because he's had diarrhea a lot these past two weeks when he got something going around and it is disgusting to smell and gets the little leg gussets area poopy, so I can't just wipe them and reuse tham as easily. But it's good, because it makes me wash my diapers every two or three days like I should, so the poop doesn't stink up the bathroom. And yet, I still love the diapers.  There's just been bad smelliness from them because they need to be stripped.

So, I foudn online how to strip diapers from pee buildup smells, which I noticed everytime he peed. And they reek, let me tell you. But I just washed the inserts in hot water with 1 tsp. of dawn dish soap and gave it an extra rinse. Then washed them the same as usual, but didn't add any detergent in. Then washed them the same as usual again with 1/2 as much detergent (because I think I've been using too much so the inserts never fully wash out and that's why they were stinking). Anyway, they seemed good as new again.

I still have to strip the diapers now again, but it's easy now that I understand why they stunk and how to fix it.

I am still having a stinky diaper pail though. So I recently started putting in a cloth that I put some baking soda along with lavendar and tree oil on. I just stick it right on in the pail and forget about it--so it goes in with the laundry each time.  So I do that each time I put the liner back in after a wash. It still smells a little though, so I'm going to try some other things.

An honestly, I don't care for the organic inserts as much,k because they don't wick away moisture from baby's bum. I'd rather just have more micro-fiber ones on hand and use those to double. Though the organic ones work just fine as a doubler on the bottom layer. I still double his diaper inserts during the night, by the way--the same as I've always done.

*side note: I would say I change his diaper every two-three hours during the day, or when I notice he's gone potty in them. Each insert can normally hold two pee's worth at this age, before being so full he gets a line on his shirt where it seepsout of his diaper at the top, or onto his pants near the legs.

Potty Training Early Experiement
And just so you know....he's gone potty in the toilet three times in the last month. Twice in the past three days. Here are things I'm doing that are helping (again, he's almost 17 months):
1. He sees Mom and Dad go potty in the toilet.
2. He has a toilet seat baby adjustment thing I place on the toilet seat, with a little stool on the floor.  He doesn't have a separate toilet.
3. Whenever we use the potty we make "psssss" sounds and say "pee" or make a straining face and "ugh" sound for poop, so he can connect the noises and actions.
4. As soon as he wakes up in the morning I take him to the toilet and ask if he needs to go poop. At first he didn't like it, so I'd put him in tub naked and wait until he started straining (if I knew he had to go soon). If nothing, then I just changed his diaper. But it has become a routine and now he's fine sitting and he strains" to try to go--though he may not need to.
5. I notice his eating patterns and when he typically goes poop. And I try to predict and then put him on. This was not very sucsessful at first and still is hit and miss, but every little thing helps.
6. Celebrate their victories and brush over the misses and failures. Otherwise they'll get stressed out about "having" to go on the pot. We want him to enjoy going potty like mama and papa, not be forced to. We clap when he goes poop in the toilet and say "yay."
7. when he goes poo or pee, it might be helpful to have a sign, so he can get use to that and better communicate when he has to go. That could be verbal "psss," or I do the thumb-between pointer-and-middle-knuckles-fist (ASL "t" sign) and shake it side to side (ASL "toilet" sign). I'm hoping he'll eventually do this to let me know he needs to.
8. Again...let your toddler go at his or her own speed. this is my first and though we haven't completed the process of potty-training, I feel we're making good process. He can communicate with me in small ways at 17 months and we're working with what he can give and do. That's all.

(but I hope he'll be potty trained before another baby comes along because diapers with two kids seems like a lot of poop to change....esp. with cloth diapers. :P) *laugh*

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