I’ve established that we were relatively experienced with cloth diapers when we (read: I) decided to go ahead and cloth diaper a newborn. Frankly, I was inspired by the example of one of my favorite bloggers, Amalah. (She’s written a LOT about cloth diapering generally and a primer about cloth diapering newborns specifically.) I’m now speaking with a month of experience cloth diapering a newborn. Oh, and I’m not speaking because I have any affiliation or sponsorship with any diaper companies or anything like that.
Since I knew we already liked all-in-ones and would use them again when Myriam got big enough, I decided to experiment with the newborn diapers to find out if there’s a system or style that we like better. We went with cotton cloth diapers with wrap covers. I got a little of everything: chlorine-free prefolded, organic prefolded, and fitted styles of the actual cotton diapers, and a fairly wide sample of different covers. None of the wrap covers stand out as my favorite, frankly. The thought is that the wraps can stay clean/get reused through several changes of cloth diapers, but I’ve found that they all get dirtied at about the same rate. Hey, its hard to keep breastfed baby poop contained. It often makes it past the cotton layer, but only occasionally gets out of the cover, too.
This approach definitely kept a pile of newborn diapers out of the landfill, but probably won’t save us $$ long term. If Myriam was a 6-pound, Jayne-sized baby, we would have gotten a lot more use out of the newborn cloth diapers. Myriam, however, is an 8-pound, Myriam-sized baby who will be ready to wear all-in-ones far earlier than I predicted. It’s already becoming hard to get a cotton prefold closed with a snappi (which is fine, really, as we tend to just fold the prefolds in thirds and lay them inside the cover. ‘m not really sure why they call them prefolds– they’re not, like, folded in advance).
Basically, I’m looking forward to phasing out the cotton diapers. Overall, they’re just more fiddly. Our high efficiency dryer has a hard time getting them truly dry, sometimes taking 3+ of its “smart” drying cycles (it thinks its done before it is). I also don’t like how the cotton holds moisture next to her skin– and I especially dislike having to remove a pee-soaked fitted diaper because here’s no way to avoid touching the soaking wet parts when we unsnap them. Some of the covers seem to always leave red marks. And, perhaps most importantly, they’re harder to put on. Both Ben and I would be terrible at getting these on an older baby who knows how to wiggle around. Ben already dislikes these so much he generally passes them up for the disposables we keep on hand. I think we get more blowouts with disposables, though. I’ll stick with these till she outgrows them and then will probably transition back to the all-in-ones we like better. Maybe we’ll use the prefolds to double up with the polyester liners.
Okay, so that brings me to the tip section that M asked me for in the first place. Here they be:
- Try a few different types or brands– if you don’t like cloth diapering at first, it might simply be that you haven’t found the system or diaper type that works for you and fits your kiddo best. I might try a few other types of all-in-ones when Myriam outgrows our current cotton diapers. Probably not too many, though, as having too many options can overwhelm others who want to help change diapers and kinda drives me crazy, too.
- You don’t have to go all or nothing. We keep (generally environmentally friendly) disposables around and often use them when we’re going out. It’s just easier. It’s better to use cloth some of the time than not at all.
- If we do leave the house with cloth diapers on, we toss a wet bag into the diaper bag to hold dirties. Our Blueberry wet-dry tote is a little bigger than we need right now (we don’t have twins), but it’ll be good for when Myriam starts daycare.
- Get some cloth wipes so you can just toss them in with the diapers. We like flannel wipes, but find two-sided wipes to be too rough and small. We keep them in a re-purposed disposable wipes case and just add water. Just water works great– I tend to think that even disposable wipes for sensative skin are a little harsh.
- Many standard diaper creams are not compatible with cloth diapers; they’ll impair the absorbancy. We’re currently using Earth Mama Angel Baby and like it. Next I’m going to try a Grovia Magic Stick so we don’t have to get fingers so messy.
- I’ve never seen the need for a diaper sprayer. Breastmilk poo is water soluble (my laundry instructions below). Later, solids can get shaken into the toilet. (Disclaimer: our experience = limited to an older toddler and a newborn, so maybe we haven’t yet encountered the cloth diapering stage at which a sprayer is useful).
- We toss our diapers in a lidded garbage can. Since it’s in our bedroom, I got a nicer one than many probably need because I wanted to make sure it keeps the stink contained.
- Get a washable pail liner and you can use it like a glove to shove the diapers in the wash without touching them, and then just toss the liner in after them.
- Try, though, to close up the velcro on any tabs before you put them in the pail. Velcro will last longer and the diapers won’t ball up on you in the wash.
- To wash, first run a cold wash to get the yuck out. If your machine allows, run the soak and extra rinse functions. I like to use a scoop of Charlie’s Soap. Next, pull out the waterproof covers, as the hot water can ruin the waterproofing; they can get rewashed with the baby clothes if needed. Then, run a hot wash, also with soak and extra rinse. I use a scant scoop of Charlie’s Soap. It’s important to use a natural, non-petroleum based soap that will rinse thoroughly because any buildup will impair absorbency.
- Don’t use fabric softener liquids or sheets for that same reason. I use these dryer balls with the baby clothes and diapers.
And… that’s where I’m going to stop for now. Let me know if I missed something or if you have questions!