Monday, December 31, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Wipes, Diaper Creams, and More

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This is the 'other' category. There's so much to talk about with CD, we of course need an 'other' page. A few things I didn't want to forget to tell you:

Diaper Cream
Diaper Cream is usually not recommended by cloth diaper manufacturers. I think it can even void some warranties as with detergent and additives. The cream will get on the diaper, cause build up, repelling, and stains. Three of the offending ingredients are Fish Oils, Zinc Oxide and Lanolin. All three are great at repelling moisture-but will cause your diapers to do the same. Fish oils will make the diaper smell like fish!

There are quite a few CD safe creams out there though. Check out this page from Pinstripes and Polkadots for a list of safe diaper creams. I personally use California Baby. I used it before with disposables so I was happy to find it on this list. I also love that I can grab it at Target. There is Vitamin Grade Zinc in it, but I'm guessing that's better than regular Zinc Oxide which is why it's on the approved list.

If you do want to stick with a regular non-CD approved cream use a liner or a wipe in between the bum and the diaper. Make sure to wash it separately though. I still place a dry wipe in between my LO's bum and the diaper though, just in case.

I wasn't sure I would use cloth wipes. The idea seemed even ickier than cloth diapers. I'm here to say I LOVE CLOTH WIPES. There's something about them being thicker and the wipe solution is better and wipes cleaner than disposable. I'm not sure. It just feels better to use. Weird huh?

We used disposable wipes the first week while I was still figuring out our wipe solution. It was messier. I would have to throw away the disposable wipe in the garbage, then spray out the diaper. Then of course I hated the idea of a poopy wipe sitting in my garbage so I'd make my husband take it out. It really isn't that much harder or ickier to use a cloth wipe. Most diapers with a 15 month old won't leave much waste on the wipe anyway, at least anything to spray off. I will say though my LO has been sick lately so has had 3 really gross diapers today. I had to spray off a few wipes (probably the worst it's been in months), and honestly it wasn't that bad. I was spraying off the diaper anyway. Bahm. Done. Plus while I'm reducing waste and keeping chemicals away from my baby I may as well do it all the way right?

So for wipes, I just got 2-12 packs of wipes from Cotton Babies. I don't think I've even touched the second pack! Here's the wipe solution recipe I got from a friend:

-1 teaspoon baby soap (Dr. Bronner's was suggested, however I'm using my sons California Baby Bath Soap).
-1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (the cooking kind)
-Really warm water

I put the coconut oil and the baby soap in my peri bottle (just the one I got from the hospital).  I filled it with really warm water. Hot enough to melt the coconut oil. The soap will keep the oil emulsified. The oil will help clean the bum more (plus coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, and it's very soothing on the skin). Make sure it's cool enough before you use it on your baby or wipe. Once it's cool the coconut may harden a little, just give it a hard shake and you should be good to go. This will stay good for a week or so.

When I'm ready to use the wipe, I like squirting a little water on the wipe (sometimes on baby) then wiping down. Most diapers I'll use only one wipe. A really dirty one, I use three. Some people like to place all their wipes in a warmer and cover with the solution. I like this idea, but I'm not sure how much I would use and I wouldn't want it to grow mold.

I've also just started wiping down at all changes, even just wet ones.  I didn't before because I didn't want to add extra wetness. Last night I found a hilarious forum post HERE, and read that most boys have what we call stinky butt syndrome (SBS). After reading (and crying from laughing) this forum, I started wiping at each change and SBS is gone.

Just a quick update on the wipe solution. I ditched the peri bottle because it kept getting clogged. Now I use a small glass jar. I put in the coconut oil first, really warm water, then shake it up until the oil is melted. Then I add a squirt of baby soap to it. I used to add the soap before, but it would foam when I shook it. Then I just dip the wipe in the water and wipe the baby bum.  Still easy peasy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Laundry Additives

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Another area of Cloth Diapering is laundry additives. These are products that can help your cloth diapering laundering process.You don't need to start out your cloth diapering with additives. Usually you only want to use these if you start noticing problems.

Keep in mind that using too many additives or too much of it can cause build up very quick! It can also damage the diaper or cause rashes. Additives can be great, but use with care.

Bac-Out-This product is great to get rid of bacteria or ammonia. Enzymes work by eating away at waste products (poop and pee). This is great for diapers, but not good for your babies bum. If the enzymes are not rinsed out well in the wash, they will attack any residue on your babies skin causing rashes. This could void your warranty for a lot of diaper manufacturers. I was concerned about bacteria left on diapers, so I decided to make this a small part of our diaper regiment. I give each dirty diaper (or over night wet one) a small squirt after spraying off and before putting it in our wet bag. If you're using enzymes, make sure your wash temperature is around 130 degrees (check with diaper manufacturer on maximum temperature). This should deactivate the enzymes.

Baking Soda- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine, softening and stains. 1/4 C per wash will work to soften your water. I've read if you use baking soda, make sure to add a little vinegar to the rinse in order to re-establish the PH of your water or else the baby could get a rash. Using baking soda too often will create build up on your diapers.

Vinegar- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine and softening. If you notice your detergent isn't rinsing well, try adding 1/4 c to the rinse cycle (after the wash). If your using vinegar to disinfect, add 1 cup to the HOT wash cycle.

*Smelly Diapers??-Add 1/2 C of baking soda to your wash (in addition to the detergent). Then add 1/4 C vinegar to your rinse cycle. Before the water drains out, stop the cycle and let it soak overnight. Finish it up the next morning.

Chlorine Bleach-Most diaper manufacturers will tell you NOT to use bleach. Some CD moms will tell you once a month isn't that bad. If you feel you need to use bleach to disinfect your diapers I would first contact your diaper manufacturer for other ideas or directions. Certain care needs to be made on AIOs and pockets because the bleach can damage the PUL. If you do decide to use bleach fill your washer up to the max, add 1-2 Tablespoons of bleach, let it dilute, then add your diapers. I would follow up with a hot water wash and a few rinses to make sure no bleach is left on the diapers to get on your babies skin. BumGenius actually suggests doing this once a month.

Oxygen Bleach-This can be used for diapers, inserts, and wipes safely on a regular basis. For covers or fitteds it is suggested by Thirsties to stick to once a month. This is good for odor, urine residue and stains. I believe a lot of people just add in an average of 2 TBSP in each wash anyway. You can also soak your diapers with 1/2 a scoop and HOT water for about 1.5-2 hours to disinfect. Make sure to follow up with quite a few rinses (about 6?).

Tea Tree Oil (Melaluca Oil)-This oil is a natural antibiotic. It also has anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. There is some debate about using TTO too much and it creating resistance. I saw quite a few people use this in their wash routine. I would rather use it on occasion. If you want to get rid of the yuckies (maybe after a stomach virus), add a drop or two sparingly to your wash and rinse well about 3 times. Here's a good article I read about TTO: Robert Tisserand. To use this topically, dilute with olive or coconut oil.

Grapefruit Seed Extract-This is a disinfectant. Yay!! My friend who helped me get into cloth diapering had a huge problem with yeast. She now uses 10-20 drops of this per wash and everything is peachy keen! I bought a bottle of this right away. I plan on using it once a month as long as there is no problems. You want to add it to your rinse cycle-which now I need to purchase a downy ball so I don't have to babysit my washer.

Essential Oils (other)- You can use a few drops of lavender, chamomile, or TTO in your wipe solution. You can also add a few drops to your diaper pail/wet bag. Oils can stick to your diapers so be careful adding to the wash. I suggest researching more-sorry!

Calgon Water Softener- These can be used on all products and helps soften the water. Soft water helps the detergent work better by suspending the residues and mineral deposits in the water and prevent them from being re-deposited until they are rinsed away. Add this to the initial hot wash and following rinse.

Dawn-Dawn is recommended to help strip diapers. A small squirt does an excellent job removing stinky residue or detergent build up from diapers. If your diapers are repelling liquid try using Dawn. Fill the sink with warm water and 2-3 drops of Dawn. Hand scrub like crazy, then rinse really well until all the soap is gone. Toss in the washer and rise a few more times to make sure all the soap is gone. Make sure this is only for a waxy or oily buildup. Also keep in mind that dish soap in your washer can damage it, so rinse, rinse, rinse before you throw it in the washer.

Sunshine-I can't wait for summer. Sunning your dipes (hanging in the sun) not only sanitizes, but gets rid of stains too.

Lemon Juice- I haven't researched this too much, but I've read that adding 1/2 C. of lemon juice to your wash will help whiten your diapers. You can also spray it (mixed with water) to your diapers before sunning them. This can get rid of stains.

Wool Dryer Balls-Don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener. They work by coating your laundry and this causes repelling issues. Switch to wool dryer balls for all of your laundry. This will help you save power ($$), reduce dryer time and reduce static. Some are even lightly scented but diaper safe. These work by bouncing around in the washer (great for AIOs) which gets more air circulated. This is known to reduce dryer time 20-45%. You'll want 4-6...oh and they get better with time. Check out the ones my friend The Graceful Mom makes: Etsy Shop.

For a useful chart about what additives are safe for Thirsties diapers see this link: Thirsties Safe Additives

Where to Buy
So now you need to buy a few things; preferably all in one place. I usually shop at for my coconut oil. They had a few of the items I needed but not all. I also went to Amazon, but again, they only had a few items. After a quick search I found They had everything I needed and at a cheaper price! Feel free to use my referral or promo code to get $5 off: DPN078.

I decided these were my laundering items I would buy from the start: Country Save Detergent, Bac-Out, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Dawn (to keep on hand just in case), and Wool Dryer Balls. Luckily I have OxyClean, chlorine bleach, baking soda, Tea Tree Oil and vinegar on hand before I ever knew they were considered additives. Hopefully I'll never have to use these. 

I had to do quite a bit of my own research to finish this post. I think I'm even more confused! There are so many opinions, directions, warnings, and encouragement out there! I haven't had any problems with my diapers yet, so I don't know how to use the above by experience. I would love to not have to! I hope this helps you at least begin your research on additives. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

When in doubt, contact your diaper manufacturer. The pain thing about having a variety of dipes is each diaper is made of different materials-which makes cleaning a little more complicated. Remember the best advice for laundering your cloth diapers is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don't make it too complicated if it's not necessary.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Index

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After beginning my new adventure in cloth diapering, I've realized how dang confusing it is to begin. Give me a few months and I'm sure I'll have no idea what you're talking about when you tell me beginning CD is confusing, stressful, and frustrating. I'll think you're crazy because I will of course be a pro ;)!

For now though, I'm only in week 2. I feel like I'm getting the hang of it, but there is still a lot of trial and error I'm in the midst of. Just now we realized that my babies weird smelling bum and diapers may have to do with to research what I already read about that. Maybe I need more detergent...maybe less.

While I'm in the beginning with you, I'd thought I'd write my own beginners guide. Everything I wish I could have found in one place or had someone tell me. As you'll find, I've basically write a book so I understand that no one could have told me ALL of this. Hopefully this helps you as it has me. Even writing it has helped me! Feel free to comment with any questions or answers (I could always use answers). Also, I know you can't believe everything you read on the Internet (WHAT!?!?), but from what I've researched the information is as accurate as possible (for now ;). I'll come back and correct if I find something different.

Oh and before you start, you'll recognize a theme. There is no one right way to cloth diaper. It's all trial and error and very personal. I can tell you something works great for me and it may not work for you. Or vica-versa. Enjoy!

1. Reasons We Went To Cloth
2. Choosing Your Diapers
3. The Process
4. The Detergent
5. Washing & Drying
6. Laundry Additives 
7. Diaper Cream, Wipes & More

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Washing & Drying

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Now you've chosen the detergent, you've sprayed off your diapers(if poopy) and you're ready to wash. Most people wash their dipes every 2 to 3 days. They say to keep the load under 18 diapers, however I think you want over 12 so that they have enough items to agitate against. I take my wet bag to my laundry room. If you choose a pail, just take out the liner or bring the whole pail. Depending on if you separated your pieces previously either empty your diapers in the washer or separate then toss in.

Before I tell you my routine, please realize that there isn't a right or wrong way to do this either-catching the trend yet? Here's what I do:

1. Cold Rinse on LARGE setting. My washer doesn't have anything that specifically says rinse, but it's about halfway through the wash-and there is a little dot, so I assume that's the rinse. It's worked well so far. I put it on the LARGE setting to get a good amount of water in there. You don't want too much or too little. I figure LARGE is a good setting. I do not use detergent on this rinse. The cold water rinse breaks down waste and doesn't leave stains. Hot water will cause stains if there is still waste on your diapers.
2. Hot wash/warm rinse cycle. Hot water kills bacteria. You want to try to get your water temperature around 100 degrees. I turn my water heater up about an hour before I wash. Over 120 degrees can deteriorate your diapers quicker. You want to use detergent on this cycle. For Country Save it seems most people use 1 TB for hard water and 1 Teaspoon for soft water (this isn't directional-just the average I've seen in forums). Remember to measure correctly so you can adjust as necessary.
3. Warm rinse on LARGE setting. Again, I move the dial to the little rinse dot. I only have a warm rinse, if I had HOT I would do hot. This will get out any remaining detergent, and I also want any remaining bacteria killed.

A few notes to confuse you more:
1. Most detergent doesn't kill bacteria very well. Hot water does. From the little I've read, water needs to be above 140 degrees to kill all bacteria. Well over 120 can reduce the lifespan of your diapers and I know some diaper manufactures like Cotton Babies set the limit at 100 degrees or it will void your warranty, so we have a problem here. This is why I use Bac-Out on my diapers after spraying them-to kill bacteria.
2. Your wash routine will need to adjust to you preference. If you notice detergent staying on the diapers, add another rinse or reduce/change your detergent. If you notice the diapers are smelly or not getting clean increase your detergent. You can also change the first rinse to HOT water if you need more cleaning power or even add a little detergent to your first rinse. Some people wash twice.
3. The first few washes, try to peek into the washer at different times to see how the detergent looks. If there is still soap after your final rinse, you know to either decrease your detergent or add another rinse. If there isn't soap after your second rinse. You know you can skip the third rinse.
4. This routine can effect your baby too. If there is too much buildup or chemicals left on the diaper it can cause rashes or even burns. If the pee doesn't rinse out it can cause ammonia burns. Don't let this freak you out as it did me, but just keep this in mind. You want a clean rinsed diaper.
5. Confused about your amount of water? Filling your washer up about half full should do the trick. You want enough water to let the diapers agitate well, but you don't want too they still agitate well. Rubbing against each other really helps them get clean.
6. My laundry room is downstairs. Really long and steep stairs. I can't hear the beep when it's done. I was first confused and thought everyone could customize their washer to do all these steps automatically. Perhaps they can (people with new fancy washers). I on the other hand have an old washer. All 3 steps I have to manually start. I've timed each cycle and now set a timer on my stove to remind me when to check the wash. Looking at the bright side, I'm getting good exercise going up and down at least 5 times per diaper load.

Now that I most likely confused you more-start out simple. Cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, cold or hot rinse. Then move to hotter water and more detergents, rinses, washes if necessary.

Drying is hopefully much simpler. I hang dry everything. I bought a line and clothes pins from the dollar store ($2 investment-yay!) I also use these for my Christmas Cards so even better deal! I originally hung dry the covers and AIO's and threw the inserts and diapers in the dryer-but now I just find it easier to hang dry it all. It saves on power and they all get done at the same time. For those of you like me that want more information, here's some info behind drying.

Don't dry anything with PUL or waterproofing materials. Those can get ruined in a heat dryer. Check your manufacturer to be sure-but from what I've found hang drying is your best option. For anything you want to throw in the dryer, don't use dryer sheets. Those can add build up VERY QUICK to your diapers. Just stay away.

I've actually switched completely from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls before I started cloth diapering. These will help reduce dryer time, decrease static, and soften. If your interested in dryer balls my friend from The Graceful Mom makes some awesome ones! They're a lot larger than some others I've bought. Visit her Etsy store here.

Again, my laundry room is in our murky basement. It usually takes about 24 hours for our diapers to hang dry. Our wet bag takes the longest (which is why 2 wet bags is a great idea!).

The only downside of hang drying is the inserts and prefolds seems to be a little more stiff. If you want them softened, toss them in the dryer for 20 minutes or so and they should be good!

Next: Laundry Additives

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-The Detergent

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Never knew there was so much to cloth diapering huh? It will get easier I promise. 2 weeks ago I was so overwhelmed with everything there was to learn, research, and decide on. Choosing a detergent was something that completely stressed me out! Let's get going.

Choosing a detergent seriously gave me a headache. Sometimes it still does. If you want to go with a stress free, easy route the choose a detergent on this list and be done! If you're like me and have to know more about it please continue reading.

A lot of women on said the best laundry soap was the one that works for you-meaning there is no 'bad' soap. The diaper manufacturers freak you out though and it can void your warranty if you use a non-approved soap. It's a nightmare out there people.

Here is a list of ingredients you should avoid:
Pure Soap
Fragrances (anything scented)

What happens is these ingredients will cling onto the fabric-it's what they're made for. That will create a build up and you diapers will start repelling liquid-exactly opposite of what you want it to do. Some of the ingredients like pure soap is also harsh on the laminate of your CD. Enzymes and fragrances can cause skin irritation and rashes.

To get a good look at a few popular detergents and if they're good for cloth diapering take a look at a chart like this one. If you have an HE machine, here is a chart for you.  Also, here is a list of approved detergents that CottonBabies recommends (the easy way!). Now with that said, a lot of people use Regular Tide or All F&C. They both have brighteners in them, but people love them. One thing to remember is even if you do use a non-recommended detergent and it 'ruins' your diapers, you can always fix them by stripping them. I'll do another post on stripping them later, but it's basically just washing it, alternating in really hot and cold water until there is no more buildup.

A few things to keep in mind:
-If you have soft water you'll want to use less detergent, since it's harder to rinse out. Hard water you'll want to use more. Some companies like Rockin Green have detergents made specifically for your type of water. They also sell test strips so you can test your water.
-If you have an HE washer, you'll want to find an HE compatible detergent. Normally this means it is low sudsing.
-Make sure to accurately measure your detergent.

Powder vs. Liquid
I haven't found the most concrete information on this topic, but here are a few notes I have found. In general, I think powder detergent is considered better for cloth diapers. One of the reasons I've read on this page is that liquid has ingredients in it to keep it liquid, and those ingredients are harder to rinse out. They also create build up quicker on your diapers and your washing machine. If you use a liquid, make sure to clean your washer out more frequently. The other side of this debate is that if you use a powder, dissolve it in water first. Some people believe that powder doesn't dissolve thoroughly and can cause buildup. Confusing much?? Another thing I read is that liquid is better for soft water because you need more surfactant and less softener. Powder would be better for hard water since it has more water softeners in it. I wish I could give you a concrete answer, but until I find one it's not possible. I think this is a preference issue and a trial and error issue. I wouldn't stress too much about this until you choose your detergent. Then perhaps use liquid if you have soft water and powder if you have hard water-then go from there. 

WAHM Detergents
Another category of detergents are home-made detergents. Work At Home Moms will make detergent and sell them on Etsy or the like. My first thought was to go with this category, however these are usually powder and made primarily with washing soda which is a water softener. We have soft water, so this isn't the best option for us. Who knew hard water could be a good thing??

For me, cost was also an issue. We moved to cloth to save money, so I wanted to keep our detergent economical. Another main reason we went to cloth was to keep more natural items on our little guys bum, so I really felt like we should try to stick with a more natural detergent. So I ended up choosing Country Save. It was approved, it was in budget, people liked it, I was sick of researching, DONE. I had to realize that this wasn't a one time purchase. I would probably try different detergents, and end up switching a few times like everyone else.

I received good advice from someone online. She said start out with an approved detergent. This way you can see the way the diapers should work. Then once you're comfortable, feel free to start trying your families favorite or any other detergent. My goal is to make my own in the future (that works well with soft water!).

Once your a little more into your wash routine, I suggest coming back to this link here: and learn more about detergent. It has some great information.

Did I confuse you even more?? I hope not! In summary I would suggest trying a detergent on the approved list. If you want natural and cost effective-go with Country Save to begin with. Once you see how your diapers should work and absorb, then feel free to try others.

6 Months later and I've switched detergents. I didn't feel like the Country Save was getting the diapers clean enough and my little guy kept getting rashes. I just made the switch to Tide Free and Gentle 3 weeks ago. I also use a 1/4 c. bleach. The diapers finally smell clean and the rashes are basically gone. He'll still get one it the moisture is on his skin too long, but mostly gone. Yay! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-The Process

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This may seem like simple part of cloth diapering, but to me the process was SOOO confusing. How do you change them? What do you do with the diaper until you wash it? There's really no right or wrong way to to do this. I'll tell you how I do it and then other thoughts or things I've learned about it. A lot of this may be way basic information, but for me I was still interested.

So once the baby has soiled or wet his current diaper-it's time to change. Plan on changing at least every 2-3 hours at first until you know how your baby is doing with the wetness. Each diaper will wick wetness away from the skin differently so this will depend on which diapers you choose. You can adjust the time once you're more familiar with the process. I'm still changing about every 3 hours.

Some people have a changing station, changing table, etc. We're not that organized. We ditched our changing table once our boy got rolley polley on us. We change on the floor now with a fold-able pad. I have a drawer in our coffee table that I keep all the diapers, inserts, dry wipes and wipe water. You can set up your changing station in the babies room, the bathroom-really anywhere. I keep my wet bag in the bathroom next to the toilet.

As for the actual changing, lay the baby down, un-secure the diaper, and then depending on if it is a wet or dirty diaper decide if you need to use a wipe I don't wipe every time. I don't like to add extra wetness if it isn't necessary. If he's been in a wet diaper a while and I want to make sure all ammonia is wiped away, I'll use a wipe. Of course if it's a dirty diaper I'll use a wipe as well. We are in the process of changing to cloth wipes. I was using disposable, but it's just messier. I had to throw the dirty wipe away which is gross to keep in the garbage. It also adds to waste so as we are reducing waste with diapers, we may as well reduce wipes as well.

For wipes I got 24 wipes from but really any cloth works, even ripped up t-shirts. I use a peri bottle I got from the hospital fill it with one squirt baby soap(about a teaspoon or less), 1 T melted coconut oil, and warm water. The coconut oil helps grab onto waste a little more. I squirt the cloth with the water and wipe the bum. I roll it all up in the diaper, put the new diaper on and done!

So a few notes:
1. I pre-stuff all of my diapers. I like having it done, especially since my hubby or my nanny could be the next one using the diaper. Some people stuff right before they put it one the diaper. This is good if you alter your absorbency (meaning how many inserts you use).
2. Some people pre-wet their wipes and keep it in a container or wipe warmer-this sounds good to me, but at 13 months my LO doesn't have a ton of dirty dipes and I think the wipes can get moldy if not used soon enough.
3. With the wipe water using the bottle it lasts for about a week. It doesn't stay warm but my LO is fine with that.
4. I'll talk more about it later, but be careful about diaper creams. Usually they're aren't diaper safe, but I'll go into this more shortly.

Spraying and Storing
Let's talk about 3 different kinds of diapers here:

Wet diaper only: Just put it in your diaper pail or bag. Done! Some people will separate the pieces at this point, I like doing that as I put it in the washer. It's just preference.
Younger baby without solid poop: Okay time to get a little yucky, but because of the consistency of baby poop, there's no need to spray off or put in the toilet. The cold rinse on the washer will get rid of everything and put it down the drain. For me this was hard to accept but after talking to a lot of moms, the washer stays clean. The other clothes don't smell like poop and all is peachy keen! Then place in the diaper pail or bag*.
Older baby with solid poop: You'll want to shake or plop the poop in the toilet. If anything is left on the diaper (or wipe) grab your diaper sprayer and spray into toilet. I just makes sure to get any pieces off. Anything else the washer will take care of. Once done, place it in the diaper pail or bag*.

Items you'll need:
Diaper Sprayer: I diaper sprayer is must for us. No more dunking and scrubbing diapers in the toilet. just grab the sprayer, spray off any waste and done. This can get water on the toilet so I just grab some TP an wipe off the seat. I got mine off of Ebay for about $30.
Storage: After you spray off the diaper you'll want some storage method until it's time to wash. Most people use a diaper pail. This can be any trash can, the white plastic ones work great. Some people buy liners for this as well which could help prevent you from having to clean it too often. My choice of storage is actually a large wetbag. I have the Planetwise Large bag that comes with a handle that can be hung on the door. Our bathroom is small, so this is a much better option for us than a large garbage can. The other awesome thing about a wet bag is it's water proof and keeps the smell in the bag really well. Even better, it can be just thrown in the washer with the diapers! I would suggest getting 2, so while one washes-the other on is in use.

Here is a great changing guide, step by step: How To Change Modern Cloth Diaper

*I use a product called Bac-Out from BioKleen on my diapers before I put them in the bag. This is a live enzyme spray that starts working on the poop and getting rid of the bacteria. After I spray the diapers. I do a quick spray of Bac-Out and then put the diaper in the bag. I'll talk more about this later in the Additives section.

Okay that's it on the process. Next up-The Wash!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Choosing Your Diapers

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Okay so you've chosen to go with cloth. The first thing you have to think of is "what in the world of cloth diapering do I buy?". There are so many options! Flats, prefolds, covers, pockets, organic, microfiber, snaps and more! I can't give you an complete view since I'm still learning myself, but from beginner to beginner, here's what I have found out.

There are 5 basic types of cloth diapers. I'll go over them briefly. One thing that was confusing to me was the term 'diaper'. The term diaper normally refers to the absorbent part. A cover is the part that makes it not leak-the water proof part. You can get 'diapers' and 'covers' that are separate or all together.

Flats & Prefolds (with covers). Flats are just basically pieces of fabric that you fold to the right size and place in the cover (or wrap around baby). Prefolds are like a flat, but they're a little thicker with 'fold marks'. It's pre-folded and sewn, so a little less work. I opted for prefolds, however flats seem great too. I think flats are cheaper. You can either fold the diaper (flat or prefold) around the baby and secure with pins or a fastener (Snappi, Boingo, etc.) then put the cover on over the diaper or you can place the diaper in the cover, then secure the cover on the baby. These systems are the least expensive to purchase and the most economical because once the diaper is wet, you can re-use the cover until it gets dirty. So the cover can last through a few changes-which means you purchase less. Some people will alternate covers and let the last one air out until wash time or it gets dirty. I think that's a great idea! These kind of diapers are the easiest to get clean.

Fitteds are basically prefolds-but it's already in the shape of a diaper, so no pins or folding is needed. You secure on the baby with tabs that have hook and loop(H&L-bascially velcro) or snaps. You'll still need to add a cover though. It seems a lot of people with newborns use these.

*I'm going to take a detour and talk about diaper covers really quick. The most popular types are PUL or wool. The PUL are are shaped like a disposable diaper and made of a waterproof fabric PUL (polyurethane laminate). PUL is more breathable than the old covers made of vinyl. They secure with H&L or snaps. You do not want to heat-dry covers, it can ruin the laminate. Wool is another popular cover (but very expensive), especially for night time. They're natural and really breathable. They also only need washed once every few weeks as long as they're aired out when not in use. Most popular diaper manufacturers sell PUL covers.

The pocket diaper is a very popular diaper. These are a cover with a sewn in liner (usually synthetic). You place an absorbent insert in the pocket that is created between the liner and cover. There are many brands like this. These are nice because with the insert in the pocket you don't have to worry about adjusting it too much. This type of diapers are also very trim on the baby. You have to wash the whole diaper(don't forget to separate the insert and diaper first) after each use since the liner gets wet/dirty-so it's a little less economical. They can be a little harder to clean since most are synthetic materials, and the cover and liner are connected. You can also use prefolds or flats in the pocket. I'll double stuff mine for nighttime. I really like pockets.

Then there are All In Twos. AI2 is named that way because it is 2 pieces. All in twos are like the flats and prefolds but uses a cover and an absorbent insert. The insert is more like a cloth pad with no folding required.  The cover on these can also be reused until dirty. *In my opinion pre-folds are basically AI2s.  I think it's the insert that makes the difference though.

All in ones (AIO) are probably the easiest diapers because they're one piece. They're also the most expensive to buy and use because they're one time use and convenient. They're usually the best for child care providers, family, and reluctant dads. I have a few of these and I love them. I wouldn't say I use them more than my pockets though.

I couldn't decide which ones to get. Since I wasn't on an extremely tight budget and there were some killer deals on Black Friday I decided to try each category.

*Here's a great guide (with pictures) for you cloth diaper choices: Simple Mom

If you think the diaper type is the only choice you have to make, then I'm sorry to say you're wrong :). Let's talk closures. The two I've seen are hook and loop (H&L) or snaps. I like both! I can't say I have a favorite yet. H&L is basically velcro. I like this because it's familiar to disposable users. it's quick and easily adjustable. The downside is I think it gets worn out easier. Velcro can be difficult in the wash. The two diapers I have with velcro have laundry tabs on them where the velcro tabs can attach in the back of the diaper, but the diaper can still stay open to get clean. This is great as long as you remember to use them. I also really like the snaps because they don't get worn out as much, I think they look cuter, and my little guy can't undo them. Velcro could be easier for childcare since they don't need to 'know' what snap to use. My nanny hasn't really had time to choose a preference, but my husband doesn't seem to mind the snaps. It seems most people like snaps. I would suggest either getting a little of both, or just one or two of the kind you think you'll like least just to try it out.

Another option you have is what material to use. Most cloth diapers use synthetic materials, however there are options for natural and organic items. I haven't looked into this too much, but what I do know is I wish I bought organic. I decided to go with the synthetic. It's better than disposable you know, and I didn't have the budget for the organic (it's more expensive). I figured I would try what it normally comes with and go from there. After our first dirty diaper and some trouble getting the poop smell out I did a little more research. I guess pocket diapers and other synthetic diapers have a harder time with smell. The organic and natural materials get rid of smell better. They are also more absorbent. I think the synthetic are fine and I still like them (I've successfully gotten the smell out). I think this depends on availability, cost, and preference.

How many diapers you need depends on how often you plan on washing. Most people wash every other or every 3 days. About 15 diapers will get me through 2 days. This will depend on the age of your child and individual needs. I've read newborns go through 10-12 a day! You should plan on changing you baby a little more often than in disposables. You want to change every 2-3 hours to prevent diaper rash from wetness. Some people go longer, but that is something you can play with and see what works for you.

All of the diapers I bought were one-size. Most come with snaps that you can use to make the diaper smaller or larger. The Fuzzibunz come with adjustable elastics that help you make the diaper smaller or larger. Some brands sell newborn specific diaper or diapers sized in S, M,or L. I didn't explore this topic too much since my little guy is already 15 months and I 'plan' to potty train early. I did however notice that most people who use CD for newborns wait until the umbilical cord falls off and have a few diapers fitted for newborns specifically. My feeling is unless your planning on diapering right off the bat or you have an older child (or chunkier!) In diapers the one-size will be just fine. Plus, it's much more cost effective. Once I have another baby and have a little more experience on newborn sizes I'll come back and update.

You can't forget color and patterns. These are the most exciting part of CD for a lot of moms. This is what makes it fun! Choosing color and patterns is a personal choice. I go for more of the boy/neutral colors. I'm not afraid of 'girlish' colors though. My doublers from Thirsties were the 'girl' pack.  I would suggest keeping neutral colors in mind if you plan on using them for future kids.  Another good piece of advice I read was to organize your types of diapers by colors. This makes it easy for other people (babysitter, dad, family) to know which diaper to grab. For example your AIO would be yellow, your pockets would be green, your nighttime would be blue, your playtime would be red, etc. I didn't do this upon first purchasing, but I'm moving forward with this method. I think it's a great idea!

To save time, I'm not going to list all the brands here. The brands I use are listed in the next paragraph. To see other brands (and what type they are) visit this forum stickiy:

My Stash
So what did I choose? Here's my loot:

2 Econobums (cover with prefold-snaps). The prefolds that come with these are natural undyed cotton.
6 Fuzzibunz (pockets with microfiber inserts-snaps).
1 Thirstie (pocket with 1 natural and 1 microfiber insert-velcro). I also bought a 3 pack of doublers. I love this diaper with a double for nighttime.
2 Flips (AI2-cover with insert-one snap, one velcro)
4 BumGenius Freetime (AIO-snaps)
*I just bought 2 more Flips with organic inserts(AI2), 2 Bum Genius Elemental(Organic AIO) and 1 BumGenius 4.0(pocket) on a Seconds Sale.

Okay I love BumGenius. You can just tell they're quality made. I also really like the Fuzzibunz because they're so trim (meaning less fabric so babies don't waddle as much!). Flips are a great in between-they're a little better than the Econobum, but still good price and more than one use as long as the cover isn't dirty. The Thirstie is my go to diaper for night time-with 3 inserts it's quite padded, but all my LO is doing is sleeping so it's no biggie. Because it's so bulky it's not my favorite daytime diaper.

Again, I suggest buying a few of each kind to get you started unless you know what kind you want for sure.

Where To Buy
I'm definitely not a pro at this yet, but I like . They sell a few of the brands I mentioned above plus they offer free shipping. There's also I got the Fuzzibunz and Thirsties from their own website.

Oh and here's a tip-look for 'seconds sale'. This is basically outlet products, meaning something looks wrong, but still functions correctly. My doublers from Thirsties were seconds and the surging just looked a little messy, but I got them for a great price!

Here is an excellent guide to different diaper pieces: Changing Station Cheat Sheet. I also love this guide and what would be a good start up stash: Cloth Diapers Users Guide.

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Reasons We Went To Cloth

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So I'm about a week and a half into cloth diaper and I LOVE IT. I really can't believe that I waited this long. I was so worried about the time it would take, but it's really really so easy. So this will be a long series of posts, but I didn't ever really find a good Beginners Guide while I was doing ALL my research. I thought it would be nice if I posted some basic information for anyone out there who is interested.

First my reasons why I decided to cloth diaper. First, I felt hesitant about the idea of disposable diapers. I didn't like the idea of chemicals on my baby all day long, especially in such a sensitive area. Plus, I hate wearing pads-so why would my baby like it for 2-3 years straight?? Second, the money savings is something you can't ignore. Most sites say people will spend between $1500 and $2000 in diapering one child from birth to potty training. We wanted to do our own math to make sure it was best for our family. Here's what it added up to:

I estimated we change him (at 13 months) about 7x per day.
His diapers come in packs of about 30 diapers, so a pack will last about 4.25 days (OUCH!)
So with a 30 day month, it is about 7 packs!!
I coupon for my diapers (Huggies) so I normally can get them for the average of $6/pack.
7 packs a month * $6/pack=$42, throw in $5-$10 a month for wipes and it's about $47-$50 a month. That's not even including diaper genies or other fancy stuff some people do.
Estimating we potty train around 30 months, that is 17 more moths of diapers. 17*$50 is $850.

I gave myself a budget of $200 to start CD, so immediately we save $650. If we would have started at birth it could have saved us even more. Also, with our next baby, we can use the same diapers, so that's even more of a savings. Just imagine, a family of 4 children would spend about $8,000 in diapers!

There are many other reasons to CD, another of mine is to be more environmental friendly. I have to admit, for being a 'granola mama', we're not much of a green family. We care, but it's just not high on our priority list. Oddly enough, the more 'natural' you go, the more 'green' you become. Now the thought of adding all those dirty diapers to the landfills makes me cringe. We throw away so many! So this reason has become my 3rd on the list. Of course the cloth diapers are so cute, and so soft. Also if you want to be more domestic-well this is a great way to feel like a 40's mom.

If you're worried about time or difficulty I will tell you from this full time working mom-don't worry. It's easy, barely takes any time, and feels so good to be doing it!

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