Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

“I don’t have time to cloth diaper”

I hear that all the time. But honestly, who has the time to do anything when you have kids? I believe we make the time for the things that are important to us. I have very little extra time. My husband and I both work full time and I go to school as well. We have a daughter who is 9 months old and she has been in cloth diapers for about 5 months.

Let me tell you how we began our cloth diapering journey. My best friend and I got pregnant at the same time and our daughters are a day apart. We are as different as they come. I never planned on using cloth…I was disposables all the way. It’s all I knew. She planned on using cloth from day one. She is my little tree hugger and I love her dearly! And I thought she was nuts! She tried to tell me about them and I would amuse her but never really paid that close attention. When our little ones were born I notice how her routine wasn’t really all that different than mine. I started asking questions and listening to how it works. I went to Cotton Babies website all the time. I thought about how cute they were and I considered it but I was one of those who said that I don’t have the time. Then my little one started getting diaper rash everyday at daycare. It would clear up on the weekends and come back during the week. But my bestie’s daughter rarely got a rash. That was it. My mind was made up. I was going cloth. I was nervous and worried that I wasn’t going to like it and waste all the money I was investing. I cleared it with my daycare and they were totally supportive. My husband was supportive (he even suggested it when we were pregnant). I called my best friend everyday asking questions. She was my Yoda of cloth diapering.

You never know who cloth diapers until you mention it on Facebook. I posted one day that I was considering switching and all the cloth diapering parents popped out and encouraged me to do it. High school classmates that I would have never thought. Other than my best friend, I know at least 5 people that already cloth diaper and 3-4 that are considering it when they have kids. Cloth is making a HUGE come back and it’s because it’s so stinking easy!

My stash. I decided to go with BumGenius because that is what my friend was using and they seemed so easy. I use the 4.0s with snaps and I love them. I started with 12 diapers. I had to wash them every night. Once I got the routine down it was easy. Now I have 25 and I wash them every other day. But I want one of each color…I am lacking 4. I am always thinking about what color to get next…I can't help it! I need a fluff intervention!

My routine. In the morning, after I get ready for work, I fold the diapers as I watch the news and drink my coffee. I normally only fold what I send to daycare each day. I send 8 diapers but she normally goes through about 5-6.

When I get home from in the evenings I empty her wetbag. I spray off the poo and separate the covers (which are a pocket style) and the inserts so that all I have to do is dump the entire pale in the wash when I am washing.

On days I wash, I start them once I get home. I start the pre-wash and once the pre-wash is done (around 30 minutes) I start the wash cycle. After that, I do an extra rinse. I leave the covers to hang dry over night and I tumble dry the inserts. In the morning, they are ready to be folded.

It may sound very time consuming but it’s not. The majority of the time is taken up by the washing process. While the machine is running I am feeding my mini-me, making dinner, cleaning the kitchen and studying….and playing with my baby girl. Wow! Now that I write that, I see that I am a busy bee! It helps to do all that when I have a husband like mine. I couldn’t do it without him….I’ve tried cooking dinner before he gets home and it’s impossible when I have a tiny little human latched onto my leg holding on for dear life! He knows all about how to wash the diapers properly and he is learning how to stuff them. He hates spraying poo but he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. I know right! I scored the perfect man!

A lot of people now think I am nuts. Why would I add one more thing to my already large list of things to do? I would love to say it’s because I love a challenge (which I do!) but, really, it’s because I love my baby’s butt! I want to keep it as healthy as possible. No toxins, no harsh chemicals. Her sensitive skin is safe in her BumGenius. I have to say that I am surprising quite a few people. My sister thought I would give it up but she now sees how determined I am to make it work. I love talking to people about it when they ask. I tell them how easy it is and show them the diapers. They are surprised to see how it is so much more advanced than the system from back in the day. I am proud to say that my baby is a CottonBaby!

Hi, my name is Wendy and I am a fluff addict!!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'm about to take a challenge.  I'm challenging YOU to do the same.  Read about the challenge HERE and HERE.  It will take place May 23-30.

Have you ever used flats?  Have you ever hand washed your diapers?  Yeah, me neither.  But I'm about to do both, and I'm super excited about it!

In response to this saddening article, a challenge has been made to prove that diapering can be done at an extremely low cost by using flats.  The challenge was also made to prove that cloth diapering IS possible, even without a washer and dryer.  When I read the above article about how some families are washing out and reusing disposable diapers, I was inspired to start a program that's been stewing in my mind for several months now.  I had planned on waiting until later this year when things settled down.  But let's face it: things will never settle down.   As I'm typing this, there are families who are having to choose between diapers and groceries.  I do not want any babies health to be at risk because their families can't afford both groceries and diapers.  Why wait?

Then I saw this challenge, and I'm all over it!  Contacts have been made to get things started with the program to help local families in cloth diapers who cannot afford it.  This challenge will help me be able to not only tell people it can be done very inexpensively and without a washer/dryer, but I can share my own personal experience. 

So, do you accept this challenge? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Washing Cloth Diapers

I was very excited and anxious to start using cloth diapers on my 5-month old daughter. But choosing what method I would use to wash them was one of the most overwhelming and confusing parts of getting started. I have a front loading, high efficiency washer which I quickly learned made it much more difficult to get my daughter’s cloth diapers clean. With old school washers you can soak the diapers for hours and then wash them, but no such luck with high efficiency washers! Luckily there are a ton of great resources and friends out there to help get me on track.

First I tried a homemade laundry detergent recipe that my cloth-diapering cousin uses for her son’s dipes. I bought all of the ingredients and mixed it all together. But before I started a load I started doing some research on the internet. I checked out some blogs and found some really helpful sites on facebook. I determined after some reading that the homemade recipe wasn’t for me. It called for Castile soap and from what I read, regular soap is a no-no for cloth diapers.

Then I tried Green Mountain detergent, which was recommended to me by a lady who I met through CraigsList. It was way too sudsy for my HE washer. To get all of the detergent out I had to run several rinse cycles. (as you have probably figured out by now, I have enough detergent to use on our regular cloths to last me quite a while!) On to the next trial!

It wasn’t long after the Green Mountain fiasco that I was introduced to Rockin’ Green laundry detergent. I was at a cloth diaper party (where a retailer brought diapers that were several different brands so we could pick which one(s) we liked the best) and the woman had Rockin’ Green detergent with her. I had been researching that brand a little online but didn’t want to pay the shipping costs, so I was excited to be able to purchase it there and take it home for a test run. At that time I didn’t realize I had hard water so I bought the Classic Rock kind (when the bag I have runs out I will buy the Hard Rock kind next time, for hard water). Now that I had a detergent that was cloth diaper safe and worked well with a high efficiency washer, it was time to tackle the task of decided what method to use.

I tried the basic ~cold rinse~hot water wash~cold rinse~ method that I had seen talked about over and over, but my daughter’s diapers did not come out smelling clean. (keep in mind, I use a diaper sprayer and dry pail) After much trial and error, I have landed on the following wash cycle: cold short cycle wash with a little detergent~ full hot cycle wash with recommended amount of detergent (2 tbsp)~ extra rinse and spin. At the beginning of the hot water cycle I had a gallon of hot water (from the tap) to add weight and water (to trick the washing machine into thinking there are more items in there) so it will add extra water and help get the diapers more clean. I then add another gallon of hot water during the wash cycle through the detergent drawer.

The truth is, wash routines will vary from home to home because our children, diapers, water, detergent, and washing machines are all different. If at first you don’t succeed (and chances are, you won’t succeed the first time), try and try again. It took me several weeks, several detergents, and several wash routines to find the one that worked best for my household. But now that I found it, washing diapers is a breeze (and they come out smelling clean!). Try not to get frustrated. Reach out to friends, family and bloggers to get tips to try until you land on the system that works best for you. It’s all worth it in the end! (I also highly recommend line drying your diapers… it saves a ton on energy costs and helps whiten them in the process).

My next adventure? Making my own diapers for my daughter! Wish me luck!

Becky is a wife and work at home mother. She has been married for 2 ½ years. They have one beautiful daughter who is 7 months old. She is truly blessed!  She also owns an Etsy shop, Blessed Creations.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Follow the White Fluffy Road!

The road to getting started with cloth diapers began when my husband and I began trying to become more "green". It had less to do with the environment, and more to do with providing the cleanest life, for our then 3 year old, that we could. It started out with eating organically, then trading out all plastic containers for glass, and using natural cleaners versus toxic chemicals. I still can't let go of Mr Clean, but hey, I'm not perfect. With our second baby on board it was even more important to us to be toxin free. Kids already combat so many toxins in the environment. One of the things I hated with my Petite (my oldest), was all the chemicals in disposable diapers. We combated SO MANY diaper rashes, some so bad to the point she would bleed. Mother's intuition told me it was the chemicals in the diapers. Honestly, 5 years ago, I didn't know there were other options. Cloth diapers, to me, were the folded squares my Mom used on me in the 70s.

 Apparently that is what other people thought about cloth diapers. What kind of reaction did I get from family and friends when I said I wanted to cloth diaper? They thought I was certifiably crazy. Seriously...cookoo for Cocoa Puffs. My Mom told me it would be a huge hassle, adding more laundry to my already burgeoning laundry room. Friends just gave me that knowing eyebrow raise. I'm sure they thought..."Oh goodness, here she goes with the green thing again." My first encounter with modern cloth diapers was at a sip-n-see for my friend, Elizabeth. When she opened a gift bag of cloth diapers I remember thinking, "My goodness, what are those CUTE little diaper covers?!" No, silly, those ARE the diapers! They were so fun and she explained that you just stuff them and after use, throw the entire diaper in the washer. Really?! That easy? This all came flowing back to me the SECOND I found out I was pregnant again. I picked Elizabeth's brain and my friend, Bobbye's brain for months. They'd both CDed all their kids. What brands are best? How long have you CDed? Pros and Cons? Where do I find said diapers? I did tons of research. I stalked diaper websites and with a little luck happened upon The Nappy Shoppe's website one night.

I called, intending to leave a message, and got the owner, Sharni, instead. We set up an appointment for me to come in and learn all about the cloth diapers I was so anxious to set my hands on. I walked into Sharni's shop 2 days later eager to learn. She spent 2 hours going over every single category of diaper, every brand she carried, and the pros and cons of each. My special little beginning hurdle, my babies are born small (5lbs 5oz & 5lbs 15oz). Did cloth diapers come small enough?? With my oldest we were in NB sposies until she was almost 2 months old. I promptly went home and made an excel spreadsheet weighing the diapers against each other. Can you say OCD?! I needed the best bang for my buck. Sharni had a good laugh when I showed up to buy my diapers, spreadsheet in hand. 

So what did I get? When all was said and done I came home with several Bum Genius 3.0 All In Ones size XS, 2 2-packs of Rumparooz Lil Joeys, a few Thirsties AIO size xs, and 2 Thirsties DUOs size 1. After we got our little Bean home, the Bum Genius AIOs became the hands down favorite. I'm so sad they are discontinuing them, because they are FABULOUS! Thanks to my Mom who bought us 20 more (yes, she finally got on board and is one of our BIGGEST supporters). This was a great NB stash of diapers. The BGs and the Lil Joeys were small enough to fit our tiny little newborn. In the first months, I learned all about what to do and what not to do. We had an unfortunate incident with a rogue dryer sheet stuck in the dryer. Nothing like stripping your diapers in the first few hazy weeks.

Here we are, 5 months in, and not looking back. Our stash now consists of a ton of Happy Heiny's One Size (my personal favorite!), a handful of Bum Genius 4.o One Size, and for night Thirsties Duos. I'm telling you, Beanie goes 10-12 hrs and 2 nursings in the DUOs and never leaks...awesome! My discovery of cloth diapering has also been a blessing in disguise, not only for our budget but for health reasons. We've discovered that our sweet Beanie has an allergy to paper diapers. She breaks out in massive red welts all over her body and her eczema gets so bad it will weep.

When people ask me...even sometimes when they don't...why I go to the "trouble" of cloth diapering these are my answers:

1. There are no chemicals touching my baby's bottom causing rashes or burns or who knows what undetectable problems. Would you want chemicals near your sensitive bits?!

2. Less $ out the door, which means not having to find an extra $80 every two weeks in my budget. Especially nice when you are a one income family.

3. I'm doing my part to keep the environment clean and enjoyable.

4. Call me vain, but I LOVE that her bootie always looks cute. I hate the look of an uncovered disposable diaper. I'm MORE than happy to show off my girl's cloth diapees. (on a side note: why are CDs available in white? if I wanted boring I'd buy disposables)

5. She will potty train faster. Because of disposables, kiddos don't feel when they are wet and are content to sit in the diaper all day. We had a bug of a time with the Petite and potty training.
The new mantra around our house is REDUCE-REUSE-RE DIAPER!

Crystal is a stay-at-home mommy to two girls, 5 year old "Petite" and 5 1/2 month old "Beanie." Her house has been filled with fluff and on Beanie's bottom since birth. You can read more about her on her blog