Things I’ve learned in my vast experience of 3 1/2 weeks of cloth diapering

When I tried cloth diapering my son Ethan, who is now 12, there was *no* information on it anywhere.  Not that I could find, anyways.  No books, no store, and I wasn’t online until a year later, so I couldn’t glean info off of the internet.  The only friend I knew who had cloth diapered had used a service, and that was out of the question, due to cost.  I tried for about 3 months, then gave up.  I just couldn’t sort out both being a first-time mother and cloth diapering with no assistance.  It’s so much easier this time around that I wish I had tried long ago with my other children.  Better late than never, I guess!!

Now, it’s the polar opposite.  There is so much info out there, that it’s tough to sift through what’s pertinent, and what isn’t.  Information overload.

I hate information overload.  It’s why I have never been to a homeschooling convention.  But, I digress.

Well, that’s not quite true.  There are some things about which I love more and more and more information.  Like friends.  Like birthing.  Like history.  And I love just gleaning general knowledge;  I hardly ever watch fictional shows on TV.

Now, I’m really digressing.

Anyways.  (By the way, I’m now aware that 99.9% of the people, who would say such a thing, say “anyway” with no s, but I’ve been including the s for all of my life, and it sounds/looks weird if I omit it.)

My paternal grandmother sent me a two dozen prefolded diapers when  Audrey was born, and another dozen with Fiala.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t cloth diaper;  she assumed I did.  This is the same grandmother who sent me How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, and who has been a health-nik all her healthy life.  She is 84?  85?  and on no medications.  When my grandfather died three years ago, that sent her into somewhat of a tailspin, health-wise, but I think she has recovered from that…  Hmmm….  I should call her.  Or send her a fresh thank-you note.

The diapers my grandma had given me went unused until recently.

There are lots of different ways to cloth diaper, and I was having difficulty making a desicion until I decided that I’d go the cheapest route, using the diapers Grandma had sent.  That way, I’d only have to get covers, and maybe a few more diapers.  And, that’s exactly what I did.

I’ve spent $47 (about 1½ month’s worth of disposables), and purchased 8 diaper covers, 3 Snappis, and another dozen (higher quality unbleached Chinese diaper service quality) prefolds, all new/unused, all off of Craigslist.

By the way, I’ve not purchased anything off of Green Mountain Diapers, but I found it to be an extremely helpful site, with honest opinions of all the different diapering options out there, plus great how-to info, with LOTS of pics.  They’re all about cotton diapering, so there is no info on pocket diapers, AIOs, etc., unless they’re cotton.  (Plus, they’ll enclose a free Bible with your order, if you ask!)

OK.  What I’ve learned:

  • Cloth diapering has its own language and abbreviations, and if you want to cloth diaper, you’re going to have to cruise some websites for a few weeks to acquaint yourself with the terms.  There just are no short cuts to education on anything, except maybe a good friend who cloth diapers who can walk you through the ins and outs.
  • Baby clothes today are NOT cut to fit cloth diapered baby buns.  I used to be such a fan of onesies — not any more!  Now, I’m all about a cute top, and possibly a widely-cut little skirt or pair of shorts.  Or a dress, usually without the matching bloomers.  Fiala is a lot wider than Audrey ever was, and when you add a puffy diaper to that, it means that very few of Audrey’s things fit Fiala.
  • I thought I’d like covers that close with snaps.  Nope.  It’s velcro all the way, baby!  Faster, better fit.
  • “Wipe clean” is a total misnomer for diaper covers.  If any baby poop has gotten on the cover, it goes in the wash.
  • eBay is awash with companies from China trying to market their polyester diapers direct to the consumer — lots of microfiber and microfleece — it’s all polyester, which I just don’t prefer.  It’s really hard to find cloth diaper stuff on eBay unless you REALLY know what you’re looking for.  I had much greater success with Craigslist.
  • I thought my hubby and nursery workers would have a hard time with a Snappi, but no;  though it looks a bit strange, the Snappi is super-easy to figure out.  Many times, though, I have found Fiala in a diaper cover that is inside out and/or backwards, after being changed by someone else.  😆
  • It is absolutely no trouble to wash, dry, and (usually) fold a load of diapers every other day.
  • I have tried both a wet pail and a dry pail.  With a wet pail, I didn’t need to pre-soak the diapers, but I found it too heavy to lug a full five-gallon bucket across the house to the washing machine, yet too inconvenient to keep it in the laundry room, not to mention the icky business of hoisting and dumping a bucket of poopy water.  So, I’m back to a dry pail.  I do need a pail liner, though…  Right now, I’m keeping a small 2 gallon bucket in my bedroom/bathroom, and the larger 5 gal bucket in the laundry room.
  • The ONLY diaper rash Fiala has gotten while on cloth diapers was when I tried to make a diaper lotion potion using baby (mineral) oil.  I get concerned when I change her right after a long nap or at nighttime, when her diaper is soaked.  But, even though it seems like that soaky diaper must be uncomfortable, it doesn’t give her a rash.
  • Frequently, when I change her, I just let Fiala cruise for an hour or so in an uncovered cloth diaper.  Surely that helps to keep her rash-free, too.
  • Laying/Hanging things out in the sun really takes out stains like magic.  Here in the hot Arizona desert, it literally takes only 3-4 hours for stains to disappear.  I had read that many times, but thought it couldn’t be that effective, until I tried it.
  • The idea of using wool covers is really attractive to me, but at $30+ a pop, it would cost about the same as a year’s worth of disposables to get all I need, and that doesn’t take into account the cost and time to relanolize the covers regularly.
  • Plus… I can’t see the diaper covers that I have lasting all the way until she outgrows them — washing them every other day is already starting to take a toll on them.

When I started writing this post more than a week ago, I also had a number of things that weren’t going so well.  I don’t know if they have simply resolved themselves in the meantime, or if I’ve just plum (plumb?) forgotten.  So, part of my original purpose was to elicit help.  Now that I don’t remember what I need help for, I feel like this post is near-meaningless, because I read a number of similar posts by others before I started cloth diapering, and apparently, I didn’t remember any of it — though I typically learn well from advice and pitfalls of others’ experiences — because I had to, yet again, re-invent the wheel and learn for myself.  But, at this point, I’ve invested too much time on the post to just hit “delete.”  Ugh.  I guess all blog posts don’t have to be Deep and Meaningful.  😀

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 10, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and an erstwhile birthing class instructor. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 18, 2009, in Babies, Cloth Diapering, Family, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. You might want to try
    http://diaperswappers.com/
    and
    http://community.livejournal.com/clothdiapering/
    You’ll have to sign up to get a livejournal account to post on the group. But this is the group that I’ve gotten almost all of my diapers from. And cheaply enough that I could experiment to see what I liked (pocket diapers, by FAR)
    Also, velcro is wonderful until the child gets old enough to get curious, and then it’s riiiiiiiip right off. I made some really really cute covers that matched Kaia’s skirts and then they became unusable at about a year and a half because she’d take them right off, then the snappi and be happily half naked LOL!
    I’ve got a post here:
    http://spiralowlcreations.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/the-cloth-diaper-post/
    That gives you links to all sorts of places to get free diaper patterns you can just download, everything from making your own wool soakers out of thrifted sweaters, to crotcheting or knitting your own, to making your own prefolds, pockets, covers, etc. You can probably click the cloth diaper tag on my site and it’ll show you a couple of other ideas that I’m not sure I put in the big post.
    If you can sew even a little (I believe you can right?) than these can help a lot. Especially the prefold making ones and the ones to make covers fairly cheaply (1 yard of pul costs about 7 dollars and you’ll get aprox 3 covers out of that) Also, if you post on the two lists I gave you and ask for cheap pockets with blown out elastic… You can usually get a couple for under 10 dollars and when fixed, you can sell them back when Fiala’s done with them for 10 each.

  2. Congrats on trying cloth diapering! Are you on Twitter? If so, you can check out the cloth diapers chat every Monday night at 8pm EST, and really at all other times, too, by following #clothdiapers.

  3. i enjoyed the post even if it wasnt deep and meaningful 🙂

  4. I just read it feeling a little awestruck – that level of organisation would be quite beyond us!

  5. Oh, my favorite thing for the baby to wear that eases diaper changes….baby leg warmers! They are SO CUTE! And she can crawl around without roughing up her knees. AND, diaper changes are a snap–no fussing with pants or onsies!

    Here’s an inexpensive place I ordered from that had really good quality: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5043139

    I’ve gotten so many compliments on how cute she looks with them on, too! 🙂

    • Oh, my word, I LOVE those!!! However, the cheapest I’ve seen them at about $10 a pop, and that’s too pricey for me!! I just may bite the bullet when it gets cooler, though, and spring for a pair or two.

      • Shopping around in Etsy…. The link I sent you, I think, had them the cheapest, if you ordered four pair she threw in a fifth pair FREE and free shipping! I spent $28 and got 5 pair!

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