Guppy in his BumGenius diapers
When I told my hubby that I wanted to use cloth diapers with Guppy, he though I had done lost my mind! For 6 months of my pregnancy, he fought me on it- remembering his childhood in the Philippines, hand-washing his niece’s poopy diapers. Only after I stubbornly insisted AND agreed to change all the diapers and clean them, did he reluctantly agree. It has been 8 months of cloth diapering and he has long-since conceded that it was a great decision. (Quietly cheering: Yeay me!)
Especially lately, I have been getting a lot of inquiries from friends and family that are considering cloth diapers. I thought I’d gather the questions I’ve been asked along with my responses for any other folks contemplating cloth vs disposable.
Can you give some pros and cons for cloth diapers, in general?
- Economical. (Saves.So.Much.Moolah! But, only a “pro” if you wash your own. Diaper service negates any money savings.)
- Environmentally-friendly. (Did you know disposables stay in the landfills for 75-100 years? Think of 6-12 diapers per day for the first 3-ish years of your life sitting in a landfill until you are a great-grandparent! Yikes! Biodegradable diapers are available, but are more expensive.)
- Healthier for baby. Bleaches and other chemicals found in disposables won’t sit against your baby’s booty for 3 years straight.
- No diaper rash! Seriously!! Keeps moisture away from your baby’s bum much better than disposables.
- Super easy to use! These are not your Grandma’s cloth diapers! The days of pins, plastic covers, and washing poop off by hand? Those days are gone!
- Can be a large up-front cost.
- The washing process takes about 4-6 hours to complete every 2-3 days. (Most of which is waiting time, not active labor.)
- The washing process takes a lot of water. (For our diapers, it’s cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse. We don’t pay water here, so I can’t estimate the water cost.)
- Specific washing process. Takes a bit to get comfortable & requires specific detergent type.
Which diapers do you use? Why did you choose them? Would you recommend them?
I chose to use BumGenius diapers. The reason why I chose them was mostly because I didn’t want to have to make further purchases to “size-up” the diapers as my baby grew. It was mostly an economical decision. The BumGenius are $18, and are supposed to fit from newborn through potty-training. When you get prefolds with the covers, the cover needs to be repurchased in different sizes 4 times from newborn to potty-training. The covers themselves run about $10-13.
With that being said, the BumGenius really don’t fit newborns super well. I have big babies (8-9lbs.) and the BumGenius was very bulky for the first month or 2. I have a friend and a family member that both used the pre-folds & covers- they fit the newborns better. I, however, am still happy with what I chose. I had already planned to use disposables for the first few weeks after Guppy was born, simply because I had visions of meconium-filled cloth diapers & wasn’t about to do that to myself while I was healing and exhausted!
I asked my friend who went with the pre-fold option for her input, this is her experience: She is using pre-folds with the Thirsties cover. She likes them a lot and definitely recommends them. No problems with leaking. Early on, she tried the “Thirsties fab-fitted diaper”. She found it easier to put on the baby when he was a newborn, but ultimately returned to using the cover. The pocket diaper couldn’t hold as much urine.
How many diapers have you found you need?
We have 18 diapers. We originally registered for 24 diapers, per the manufacturer’s recommendations, but received only 18. We decided to wait and see if we would need another diaper type before purchasing the final 6. Turns out that we were happy with the BumGenius diapers and were also finding 18 diapers to be sufficient for an every-other-day laundering schedule.
Does cloth diapering change the size/type of clothes you need? Does it make them bulkier?
Although BumGenius diapers are bulkier than pre-folds and disposables, I don’t believe it has made any difference in the size Guppy can wear. If he is about to outgrow something, it may make a week’s worth of difference, but nothing to take into consideration while choosing clothing.
What products have you used with cloth diapering? Still use creams? Anything to neutralize odors in the wet bags?
First, regarding using creams/powders, you can’t use them with cloth diapers (most, if not all) because they create a build up that results in leaking. It can permanently ruin your diaper. The good news is, when using cloth diapers, you really won’t need any cream. With the exception of one antibiotic-induced diaper rash, Guppy has had zero rashes when using the cloths. I believe this is either because the cloths are so much better at wicking the moisture away from the skin, or because of the lack of chemicals, as opposed to what is in the disposables. When he did have that one rash, we needed to use ointment, so we switched him to disposables for about a week. BUT, here’s the thing… when we went on a week long vacation we used disposables for convenience and he ended up with a diaper rash by day 3. When we got home, we put him back in the cloths and the rash was gone the next day.
Diaper liners: A MUST! This is what made my husband decide that this was not such a bad deal, after all. The diaper liners look like dryer sheets and are placed between the baby’s skin and the diaper. They are flushable, so if the baby poops… plop it in the toilet and there is no poop to spray off the diaper, no poop in your washing machine, etc. We use the Imse Vimse Flushable Liner (2PK) 200 pieces/2 rolls (Baby) liners. I cut the liner in half and if Guppy doesn’t poop, I just wash the pee’d-on liner with the diapers, toss it in the dryer along with the insert, and re-use it. They will wash this way about 3-5 times before they look like they should be tossed. Because I do this, I have only bought one package of liners since we started 8 months ago!!
Detergent: You have to be so careful with which detergents you use- some can void the diaper’s warranty. The only one we have used, because it came so highly recommended, and we have had such a great experience with it, is Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent (Classic Rock, Bare Naked Babies) In 8 months, we have only gone through 2 bags, so at about $14 per bag, it is not as expensive as it appears. This detergent leaves the diapers without stains, and we only have to strip the diaper once per month (see below for more on stripping. The diaper, that is!)
Diaper Pail Liner: We went with the Kissa’s Antibacterial Pail Liner and have been happy with that. I can’t say that it keep all the smells from the nursery when it’s simply in a lidded kitchen pail, as some of the review say, but it’s satisfactory.
“On the Go” Wet bags: In the diaper bag, we carry the Kushies “On the Go” Wet Bags and have been very happy with them. They keep the smells and moisture from escaping, even when forgotten in the bag for a couple days. (oops!) They can hold quite a few diapers- I think we have put 7 or so into one bag. They just get washed along with the diapers and hung dry. Easy-peasy.
That’s it. But, one final note…
DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A DIAPER SPRAYER. We used it once when we forgot to put the liner in and Guppy poo’d. I used the sprayer to rinse the poo into the toilet. It was disastrous. It took me 5 minutes AND I had to change my clothes, clean up the bathroom floor, and wipe clean the lenses on my glasses from all of the back-splash. If this was what I had to do with every poop, I would never consider dealing with cloth diapers!
Do you hang dry or use the dryer?
I do a combination. In the winter, I hang dry the outer layer (on hangers hung from cupboard knobs in my kitchen! Super stylish!) and dry the insert in the dryer. We, most of the time, just do a load of clothes after the diapers and combine the clothes and the diaper inserts in the dryer to save electricity. The outer layer only takes a couple hours to dry completely. During the summer, I plan to hang dry both outside. I can’t tell you how long it will take for the inserts to hang dry though, since the weather hasn’t made this a possibility for me yet.
Do you have any leaking issues?
Yes and no. I have always said that Guppy pees like a man. I don’t know how a little belly like that has room to store what he excretes! Much more than our daughter did, that’s for sure!
During the day, we barely ever have leakage. We change him with every feeding, so every three hours. One thing to note is that you really can’t tell when your baby is wet with the cloth diapers. With disposables, it’s super easy to tell. The cloth diapers wick the moisture away, so the baby doesn’t seem to get irritated after wetting. It also seems to absorb more evenly in the insert, so you don’t have a big wet area as you do with the disposables.
When we do start seeing more leakage issues, we know we must have some build-up on the diaper, so we strip the diaper (the process explained in the next section) and that seems to fix the problem.
We do use disposables when traveling for more than 2 days. (Not everyone is so keen on us using their washing machines for cleaning diapers.) What we have noticed is that we get A LOT more leaking issues with disposables than we do with the cloth.
At night, we have had to adjust strategies with different stages to avoid leaking. While Guppy was under, say, 3-4 months old, we changed him with every feeding throughout the night. That means every 3-5 hours, all.night.long. (I’m packing the bags under my eyes just remembering those days!) There was no leaking issues then. But, as I began sleep training him… therefore, not changing him during the nighttime, we started needing to adjust our diapering tactics to avoid leaking. We started double stuffing his diaper (the regular insert, plus a newborn insert that’s included when you buy a BumGenius diaper). Then, as Guppy grew, and so did his bladder, we needed to triple stuff the diaper (regular insert, plus 2 newborn inserts crammed into the outer shell.) He has gotten to the point now where he is occasionally leaking through that, too. So, now we are considering buying a few inserts made of more absorbent materials, maybe bamboo? I’ll update this post once I have found the secret to success regarding this nighttime super-pee situation.
Any other advice to make it work?
This routine that has worked for me: When the diapers are all clean & dry, I stick 3 of them in a drawer and the rest on the diaper shelf. When all of the diapers on the shelves have been used & are dirty, I know it’s time to run a load. The 3 clean diapers in the drawer allow for more than enough time to wash & dry the dirties.
Stripping the diaper: About once per month, you will need to strip the diaper of any build up and ammonia smell. You’ll know if you are past due on this task when you can smell ammonia and/or your diapers start leaking. For BumGenius, they recommend adding 1/4 cup bleach to the load, once per month. I find that to be ridiculously ineffective. I use the soak recommended on the back of the Rockin’ Green Detergent package, which is 2 tbsp detergent in the first cold rinse cycle, and let it soak for 30 minutes-8 hours, depending on the degree of the funk. I usually let it sit for a couple hours, while I run some errands, then return to complete the washing cycle as usual. Works every time.
That is all I can think of to help get you off to a relatively seamless start. Feel free to post any further questions in the comment section below & I’ll answer them ASAP!