Friday, December 30, 2011

Guest Post: Adriane from "Half a Bite"

We have some exciting guest posts coming up in the future - from several mamas who are just entering the cloth diapering world regarding their journey! We're also looking for at least one post about using cloth diapers at daycare.

Our first "new" cloth diapering mama is Adriane, mother to a beautiful five-month-old named Darian. She recently started cloth diapering and has this to share (you can read the original at her blog, Half a Bite):


Fluffy bums

So, I use cloth diapers on Darian's bum. I love it now, but I made a LOT of mistakes in the beginning which could have steered me back to disposables had I not spent a significant amount of money on the things.

The Prep

Let's start at the beginning. Long before I was pregnant, I came across a thread on The Nest about cloth diapers. I was intrigued. So I looked it up, read about the virtues (Save the environment! Save money! No rash! No poopsplosions! And they're cute!), and decided that when the time came, I'd give it a shot.

Victor wasn't convinced, but since I'd be the one staying home, changing most diapers, and doing laundry, he agreed.

Once I was pregnant, I tried to read up, but was overwhelmed without actual samples to look at. At a friend's suggestion, I visited a local cloth diaper shop. The woman in the shop gave us a riveting demonstration of the different types, and we went ahead and bought the whole starter kit of 30 brand new diapers plus all the accessories.

From what I had read earlier, I thought that all-in-ones would take too long to dry, and pockets would be too much effort to stuff. So I got some Totsbots Bamboozle bamboo fitteds with covers, and some Grovia all-in-2s with snap in cotton soakers, all "one size" which would fit from about 9-35 lbs. (I'd explain it all but others have done a better job, so you can read more on The Awesome Cloth Diaper Blog.)

Victor and I had agreed to stick with disposables for the newborn stage, and then transition to cloth as parenthood became more manageable. I figured that the baby would start fitting in the one-size diapers within about a month. I was excited.

Starting out

Darian was born at 7 lbs 11 oz. The newborn-sized disposables lasted about two weeks before he started outgrowing them and we decided to try out a Grovia. He was probably around 9 lbs by then.

I snapped it to the smallest setting, put it on him and it looked HUGE. A couple of hours later, I changed the diaper and was disappointed at how wet it felt. I thought there was no way they'd last through a night.

See? Huge, right?

At one point, he had an explosive poop which scared the cat, but more importantly, leaked all over the place.

We had slightly better luck with the Bamboozles, but they were also way too bulky.

Not only that, but Darian was a very gassy newborn, and the bulky cloth diapers made it difficult for us to deal with that. Thin disposables, being much thinner and more flexible, made it easier for us to pump his legs to help with the gas.

Finally, I did find the laundry a little overwhelming. Both the Bamboozles and Grovias seemed to take forever to dry.

I started to think this was a mistake, and an expensive one.

Growing into them

So, we kept using mostly disposables through the first three months. I kept using the cloth every now and then, but by no means full time.

I also took back some of the Grovias, and exchanged them for Fuzzibunz.

Fortunately, I loved the Fuzzibunz - they fit Darian well, they are fairly trim, and the microfibre inserts dry quickly. And stuffing pockets wasn't as big a deal as I thought!

Happy bum, happy baby!

When Darian turned three months old, Victor went back to work. Left to my own devices, I started using cloth full-time. I braved night-time cloth diapering with the Bamboozles and lo and behold, they worked! I joined cloth diaper buy/sell/trade communities and sold off some of the Bamboozles in order to buy some more used Fuzzibunz (saving enough Bamboozles just for night-time use).

Also, Darian started growing into the diapers, and outgrowing his gas issues, so that they bulkiness was no longer an issue. I started noticing that the cloth was way better at containing poops (it wasn't a big issue when Darian was a newborn because poops were regular and small... but as he got bigger, they got bigger and more forceful). And I got into a groove with the laundry.

So now, I'm loving it. I almost never deal with diaper leaks, and if I do, they're very tiny. I even use cloth when we go out - even though the diapers are bulkier to carry, it's so much easier to do that than change clothes while we're out. Today was our first garbage day without a single diaper in the trash.

And they're delicious!

If I could start again...

- I'd start with trying a few different types (natural and synthetic fibres, pockets, AIOs, AI2s and fitteds) rather than deciding that one or two would work for us
- I'd try to start with some cheaper brands or buy used
- I'd consider buying newborn fluff, or at least realize that one-size wouldn't work for at least a couple of months
- I'd join a community where I could chat with other cloth diapering mamas and learn a lot more

So, that's my story. I realize that a lot of these mistakes have been discussed in blogs and whatnot (including the one I linked above), but hey... live and learn.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ok, I have my what?

Once you've gotten a stash together, whether you purchased a trial, nabbed some sale diapers, found great used deals, or just said to hell with it and bought new ones at full price, the next steps can be overwhelming.

Do you need to prep them? How do you prep them? Do you need to strip them? How do you strip them? Do you just start....USING them? Do you dive in full force? Do you start just at home and continue to use disposables while out and about? What about overnight?

Prepping and Washing

The easy part of that question is the prep and washing!

New Diapers 
If they're new, follow the instructions the maker gives. In general, you can divide your diapers as follows:

Synthetic fabrics (These are usually stay-dry - most pockets and AIOs. Microfiber, microfleece, and suedecloth are all synthetics):  Wash once. That's it! They don't need any prep; you're just washing to get any nasties from the manufacturing process out. 

Natural fabrics (These are not stay-dry and include most fitteds and many AI2 inserts. Cotton and hemp are all natural fibers): Wash 5-6 times. Why so many? Natural fabrics, particularly cotton and hemp, have oils in them that must be washed out before they become absorbent. They may be ready to use after three or so washes, but they'll be most absorbent after five to six. You don't need to dry between every wash; I usually wash three times, dry, wash three more times, and dry again.  And while you don't want to do these washes with other diapers (you don't want to transfer the oils to other diapers), you can wash them with other clothes.  If your cotton or hemp is in the form of an insert or prefold without snaps or elastic, you can boil them for 20 or so minutes to avoid so many washes.  Once boiled, just wash with detergent once and dry.  (I've boiled inserts with snaps before and it's been fine, but they could easily melt so I don't recommend it.)

A note about bamboo:

Bamboo is usually categorized in the "natural fabrics" section, but in reality the process to make bamboo fabrics usually turns it into rayon and strips the oils out. Bamboo usually does not need to be prepped  the same way as cotton and hemp.

Used Diapers 
If your diapers are used, you probably just have to wash them once and you're good to go. However, inspect the diapers beforehand, and you're hesitant about them for any reason you may want to strip them. You may also find you need to strip them after you've used them if they are repelling. You can visit the FAQs for information about stripping diapers.

Drying Diapers
You've probably heard it before. Line drying diapers is best. And it is. The dryer is hard on cloths. It makes them wear out faster (this goes for ANY clothes, not just diapers!). And it's especially hard on PUL (the plasticky waterproof fabric in a lot of diapers), aplix/velcro, and elastic. So if you can, line dry your diapers. Not only will it help them last longer, it will also get rid of any stains! (It's magic!) You don't have to have a backyard or even a house to do this - you can do it on a balcony or patio, and you can even do it inside. Yes, it will take a bit longer inside without the airflow and wind that the great outdoors provides, but it will dry!

That said, drying on a line isn't always possible. Maybe you don't have somewhere to do it.  Maybe you're in a hurry. Maybe you're lazy. (I admit to all of those at one point or another!) Drying in a dryer is okay. The world will not stop turning if you have to use a dryer. The key is to use the lowest possible setting. When I use the dryer (and I do quite a bit), I dry on extra low for 1 hour and 39 minutes. Why that time? It's the longest timed setting I have on my dryer. In that time, my diapers generally get pretty dry. I might have a couple fitteds or AIOs that aren't quite there, and if that's the case, I leave them hanging on the side of her crib for a couple hours. Is drying on low or even (gasp) medium or even (double gasp) regular okay? Sure. Every once in a while, if you're in a huge hurry or have a reason you need to get your diapers dry quickly, it's not going to ruin the diapers. They will, however, last longer if you do that as little as possible. One hint to help minimize dryer damage? Don't stretch the elastic on the diapers until they've cooled. Another hint: use wool dryer balls to help them dry faster (I like this shop on Etsy)!

If you do line dry, you might find that your natural-fiber diapers start to get crunchy or rough. There are several ways to combat this. You can pop them in the dryer for 15 minutes or so to soften them up (some people think they are softer if you dry them in the dryer for 15 minutes and THEN line dry them the rest of the way; some people think they are softer if you line dry and THEN put them in the dryer - experiment!). The faster they dry, the rougher they will be, so if you aren't sunning them and need direct sun, try putting them in the shade. You can also do an ecover soak or add ecover to your regular laundry routine. ecover is a cloth-diaper-safe laundry softener that uses all natural ingredients to soften clothes and diapers. You can do it as often as needed for fitteds and inserts; however, it will wear the PUL and TPU over time. For those types of diapers, try putting a ecover/water mix in a spray bottle, spraying the inner of the diapers, and letting it sit for a bit. Afterward, run a rinse cycle on the diapers. You can also "float" those types of diapers on top of the surface of an ecover soak, letting the soakers become immersed in the ecover/water mixture and keeping the PUL out of the water, floating on top.

Making the Leap

Okay! So you've got your diapers washed and prepped and ready to go. They're just sitting in a big pile, staring at you.  This is the part where you just DO IT. Take off the disposable your kid has on and put on a cloth diaper! You can do it!  Seriously, stop reading this and go do it. I'm waiting!

Really, what's the worst that could possibly happen? You get a leak? If you've been using disposables, you've probably dealt with leaks before!  Remember: some cloth diapering is trial and error. Just like all disposables don't work the same for all families (have you seen the Huggies versus Pampers wars?), not all cloth diapers work the same. I'll be honest: some diapers might leak for you. It could be the wash routine. It could be the fit of the diaper. It could be user error (did you forget to put an insert in the pocket diaper?? Been there!) But be heartened! Once you have it figured out, they will leak MUCH LESS, and blow-outs will usually become a thing of the past.

Whether you use disposables overnight, while out and about, at daycare, etc., is up to you. My personal belief is it's far easier to just dive all in at once, but there are a lot of hard-core cloth diapering families that still use disposables when they are out shopping or for overnight. That is OKAY. Do what works for you!

Here are some hints for using cloth diapers in various situations:

Cloth diapering while out and about (link coming soon)
Cloth diapering while on vacation (link coming soon)
Cloth diapering at daycare
Cloth diapering overnight (link coming soon)

The biggest hurdle though? Just getting one on the butt! So really, there's no time like the present...throw a cloth diaper on that kid!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Post: Laura from "Welcome to my (Cloth Diaper) World

A good friend, fellow cloth diaper mom, and mother to a beautiful daughter wrote a great post on some of the different "need to know" things regarding cloth diapering.  She graciously allowed me to post it here as a guest post! Thanks Laura!  Be sure to visit her blog, "Welcome to My (Cloth Diaper) World."


What you need to know

Handy (basic) Cloth Diaper Information

There are (what feels like) a million different types and brands of cloth diapers available today. It’s definitely not like in our parents' days of cloth diapering. It can be hard to distinguish between an AIO (all in one), fitted, AI2 (all in 2), prefold, cover, hybrid, etc… especially if you are just getting started. Here I will describe the different types of diapers, as well as name a few of the brands of each type. Yes, there’s a lot. And yes, it can sound overwhelming. I promise, once you get to know the basics, it’s pretty easy to grasp.


Prefold – The most simple way to cloth diaper you baby is to use a prefold. You can either fold it onto your baby using one of the folding methods (newspaper, basic, twist, etc.), or fold it in thirds and place it inside a cover.

Fitted diapers - Usually made of cotton or bamboo, they also need a cover over them, since fitteds are not waterproof. They have snaps for aplix (Velcro) to close the diaper, and they often have a sewed in or lay-in soaker. There are many different brands of fitted diapers (Thirsties, TotBots, etc.) and many work-at-home-Mom (WAHM) fitteds as well.

Pocket diapers - have a built in waterproof cover and require a separate insert for absorbency. This is probably one of the most popular way to cloth diaper these days. There are tons of brands/styles of pocket diapers - most common are Bum Genius, Fuzzibunz, and "cheap" eBay diapers.

All-in-one (AIO) - are the most like disposables. They are simply on/off, no insert to stuff, no cover to put on. These are great for babysitters, granndparents and daycare. Popular brands of AIOs are Bum Genius, Grovia, TotBots. The main "con" about AIOs is that they take a long time to dry.

All in Two (AI2) - Are almost as simple to use as AIOs. They have an additional liner seperate from the "body" of the diaper, which makes for easier washing and faster drying. An example is SoftBums.

Hybrid diapers - Are sort of a mix between an AIO and a pocket. They have a waterproof cover and a snap in/lay in liner, and the liner can be changed out for a new one, while reusing the same cover (as long as it's not soiled). Examples are Grovia, Flip and Monkey Doodlez "Tuck And Go".


Inserts - usually made of microfiber, they are used to "stuff" pocket diapers. They can also be made of hemp or bamboo, or a combination of these. Inserts are the absorbent part of pocket diapers.

Doublers - Are used to add extra absorbency to any type of diaper, for overnight or heavy-setters. Doublers are usually made of fleece or hemp.

Wet bag - A small bag with a waterproof liner, to be used in a diaper bag to hold soiled cloth diapers.

One Size - A term used to describe a diaper that can be used from nearly newborn til toddler age. Many pocket diapers are One Size. They usually have 3 rows of snaps that, as you unsnap them, make the diaper "grow".

This post will be updated periodically with more basic information!

(All pictures in this post taken by me, Laura McKee)