Do you have a baby or are you expecting one? Thinking about cloth diapers, but not quite sure where to start or whether they are the right diaper for you? This guide will help answer all your cloth diapering questions, dispel some myths, and hopefully convince you that cloth diapers are the way to go. This guide includes the following topics:
- Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers,
- Types of Diapers,
- Quantity, and
- Washing Cloth Diapers.
Reasons To Use Cloth Diapers
First, lets dispel the myths. Cloth diapers are not smelly, dirty, or messy. I have found that disposable diapers have a STRONG odor. And, Im not talking about dirty disposable diapers. The odor of a disposable diaper comes from the chemicals and perfumes in the diaper. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, smell like clean cotton. I enjoy taking my diapers out of the dryer and smelling that clean cotton smell. And, my guess is that you will too!
Now, to dispel the myth that cloth diapers are messy. Washing cloth diapers is easy and a fairly neat process. If you dont believe me, skip down to my instructions on how to wash cloth diapers. In addition, cloth diapers are less likely to leak or explode than disposable diapers. This is a big advantage. Trust me on this. Ive bathed a lot of babies over the years because their disposable diaper leaked after a bowel movement. Ive never had this happen with a cloth diaper and I was a nanny for two children who used cloth diapers and have exclusively used cloth diapers on my baby.
In addition, cloth diapers are good for your wallet. Think about this an infant goes through about 12 diapers a day! Using cloth diapers can save your thousands of dollars. And, thats money that can go towards vacations, nights out with your spouse, or your childs college fund.
And of course, cloth diapers are better for the environment. Cloth diapers are made from cotton a renewable resource and are reused numerous times as diapers and later on as cleaning rags. Disposable diapers are used one and then thrown away. Each baby in disposable diapers consumes 4 ½ trees and contributes to 2 tons of waste. And those diapers sit in the landfill for 500 years before fully decomposing!
But most importantly, cloth diapers are healthier for your baby. Cotton diapers have no harmful chemicals in them. Disposable diapers contain toluene, xylene, ethyl benzene, styrene, and isopropyl benzene. This is why disposable diapers have been linked to asthma in humans and in studies have caused respiratory problems in lab mice. Further, the gel beads in diapers are sodium polycrylate, which is a chemical they used to put in tampons. They dont anymore because it has been linked to toxic shock syndrome. Is this what you want next to your babys skin for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two or three years? Or, will you choose soft, comfortable cloth diapers?
Types of Diapers
Now that you are thinking more highly of cloth diapers, Id like to assure you that gone are the days when you had one choice if you were going to use cloth diapers. Now you can choose between flat diapers (such as prefolds, flat, or shaped diapers), fitted diapers (which have elastic at the legs and waist and usually close with Velcro or snaps), and all-in-one diapers (that are a cover and diaper combination). When my son was first born I used prefold diapers with Velcro diaper covers, but found fitted diapers to be a better choice as he grew. What you use is completely up to you. If you are not sure which diaper would be best for you, think about purchasing a sampler package from a retailer to help you decide. Heres some more information to help you choice which diaper is best for you and your baby.
This group of diapers consists of flat diapers and prefold diapers. All two of these generally need some folding, which isnt as bad as it sounds. These diapers will need a cover. If you choose a pull-up cover, you will have to secure the diaper with either pins or a Snappi fastener. Or, you can purchase diaper covers with elastic. If you do this, you will not have to use pins or another type of fastener, though some families still opt for fasteners since they create a snugger, more leak proof fit. This group of diapers is generally the least expensive option.
The fitted diapers have elastic at the waist and legs, which creates a snugger fit. Snaps or Velcro are the typical fasteners on this style of diaper. Fitted diapers help prevent leaks, but remember a diaper cover is still used over this style of diaper. One added benefit of fitted diapers is that you can often find grow-with-me options where the diaper can be expanded through the use of snaps as the child grows. Fitted diapers are more expensive than the prefolds, but less expensive than the all-in-one diapers.
The last choice in diapering is the all-in-one diaper. This diaper is combined with the cover into one piece. Like the fitted diaper, this style closes with Velcro or snaps. Some find the all-in-one diaper to be similar in design and function to a disposable diaper with the exception that you wash and reuse the diaper. While it is the most expensive option, many people find this to be a good diaper for outings and babysitters.
Now that you have a better idea of the types of diapers available and the benefits of cloth diapers, you are probably wondering how many diapers to buy. The rule of thumb is to purchase 36 diapers for a newborn baby (birth to 15 pounds) and 24 diapers for an older baby. This number of diapers will allow you to go approximately three days between washings. You can opt to buy fewer diapers, but that means you will be washing diapers more often.
Remember, if you are not planning on using all-in-one diapers, you will want to purchase diaper covers. I recommend purchasing six diaper covers, but you can get along with just four covers. You can use the diaper covers more than once as long as the cover is not soiled. Damp covers can be air dried and used later in the day. You can purchase wool or fleece covers, which are breathable. These covers need to be washed after each use. The fleece covers can be machine washed, but the wool ones need to be hand washed. These types of covers are a nice item to have for night time diapering, especially once the baby starts sleeping longer. If using these for night time diaper, plan on purchasing three to six. If you choose to use these during the day, more will be needed.
Once youve determined what type of cloth diaper you want, chances are you can purchase it on eBay. All the links in this guide will take you to those current items available through eBay. Individuals sell both used and new diapers. And, there are eBay stores that sell a variety of new diapers.
Washing Cloth Diapers
If youve never used cloth diapers before, this is the part you are probably dreading. But, dont worry. Washing cloth diapers is a fairly easy and simple process.
1. Wash your diapers a few times prior to using them for the first time. The number of times the diapers should be washed depends on the diaper. When you purchase the diapers, there should be pre-use instructions.
2. I recommend using a dry diaper pail for storing your dirty diapers. This is the safest method. To cut down on the number of times you have to wash out the pail, you can purchase a diaper pail liner.
3. If you are exclusively breast feeding, there is no need to rinse the diapers. Just drop them into the pail. If the baby is on solids or formula, shake the diaper over the toilet and rinse if necessary. You can purchase sprayers to help clean off the diapers.
4. Dump the dirty diapers into your washing machine. Rinse the diapers (no more than 24 at a time) in cold water. You can add vinegar or baking soda, but avoid bleach or Oxiclean. These shorten the life of your diaper.
5. Wash the diapers on the warm or hot setting using ½ the recommended amount of soap. Rinse with cold water. I prefer a dye-free/perfume-free laundry detergent since babies have sensitive skin. Also, some babies are sensitive to the enzymes found in some detergents. Therefore, it is best to avoid these detergents. Do not use any fabric softener and avoid baby laundry detergent since that has a fabric softener in it.
6. Dry your diapers in the dyer on a normal setting or line dry them in the sun. The sun is a natural sterilizer and is a great way to remove stains. After line drying you can toss the diapers into the dyer for a few minutes to soften them!
7. Never soak the diaper covers or use bleach, Oxiclean, or other whitening agent on them. This strips the covers waterproof layer something you do not want.
8. Enjoy your happy, healthy cloth diapered baby!