Friday, May 6, 2011

why cloth?

I have recently had a number of people ask me about cloth diapering (one of which just took the plunge herself - Go Des!) and others are considering it....and then there are some who just think we are plain crazy for doing it (which is totally okay - to each their own diapering-opinion and style, who knows maybe we are a little fanatical? I'm okay with that as long as it pertains to the diapering-realm).

Since I've been asked by several people recently (and to avoid writing the same email several times over) and because you never know who all is reading and who might be helped and also because I enjoy reading tips from others, I thought I would post about it:  why we chose to do it, why we love it, where to get started and what some of our "favorites" are.

When we were first pregnant, we didn't even realize their were options beyond "Huggies, Pampers or Generic" as far as diapering went.  Through our birth class, our doula exposed us to a number of things and challenged our conventional thoughts in a number of ways, one of which was cloth diapering.  Now, I do have to say, my own mom did cloth diapers and I remember my youngest sibling in cloth:  the folding, the pins, the rubber covers and the laundry hanging up to dry.  But we lived overseas where disposables were not an option, so I just assumed that was a necessity, not a choice

That's me as a baby, in my cloth diapers!
This was one topic during our childbirth education class that I listened to but just assumed we were not going to do cloth.  Who in their right mind would choose that, right?  Well, then along came Mr. Caleb and our tune quickly changed.  At first there were two factors that motivated our change:  1) Disposable diapers are expensive.  Really, really expensive.  So are wipes and baby rash cream and plastic garbage bags to throw all the diapers away in.  2)  We found disposable diapers to be very ineffective at what they were supposed to do.  Folks, we had poop up the back, out the sides, ruining outfits and were taking the garbage out daily.  Not to mention several early morning realizations that we were "out" and had to run to the closest 24-hour store at inconvenient hours of the wee morning or late night.  So we started researching cloth, primarily because of these two (very motivating) factors.

The more we read, the more we were convinced.  We liked that cloth was re-usable, that it was (way) cheaper in the long run, that it was more effective and safer.  We never realized the chemicals that are in disposables and the negative effects both immediate (rashes etc) and long-term (reproductive health etc).  We were still a little skeptical, though.  Could we really do it?  Would it be an all-consuming, hated, dreaded chore? Would we be washing clothes non-stop?  Would the initial investment be "worth it"?  What if we bought them and hated them?  And then there was the overwhelmingness of all the new lingo and decisions:  all in ones, pockets, prefolds, bleached/unbleached, flats, covers, snappi's, wetbags and who knew diapers could come in "organic"?   And on top of that were all the brands and websites....just wading through all of those decisions took some research and initially was overwhelming. 

But well worth it.  We started out initially with a dozen unbleached prefolds, some thirsties covers (love 'em), some pro wrap covers (not my fave but they do the job), snappi's (the alternative to pins but we've found we hardly use them...with the covers, the diapers stay in place just fine, even with our active guy!) and 2 PlanetWise wetbags (one to store the dirty diapers until wash day and one for when we were out and about - we love them, really keeps the stink out...I know, I was skeptical at first too but it smells way less than disposables sitting in a plastic bag!).  This is one of the cheapest routes to go.  You could easily do this in under $90 and be good to go.

Unpacking part of our stash after we moved
But (as I'm sure you will find if you start cloth or are already doing it), modern day cloth diapering is rather, what shall we say? Addictive could be a good describer-word.  Our next purchase about a month later was a stash of One-Size (meaning they are adjustable and can grow with your baby) Pocket (meaning you stuff them with an insert, allowing you to add extra absorbency and dry faster) Bum Genius 4.0 (brand) snap (you can go with snaps or velcro closures).  I like snaps because they last longer than velcro and since BumGenius (BG) are more expensive, I want them to last.  However, I actually prefer velcro (it makes for a faster change and the fit is more adjustable) so on my cheaper thirsty covers I opt for velcro.  At this point I also purchased cloth wipes. It just made no sense to have to seperate disposable wipes from cloth diapers and wipes are expensive.  I'm so glad we made the switch, it is so convenient to just throw the wipes and the diaper together into the wetbag, it's cheaper and I think disposable wipe solution is harder on baby's bottom (ever check the ingredient list on those wipes packs?).  I bought a 20 pack of soft baby wash clothes on amazon for $2.99, they've worked well.

Helping mama clean up before getting dressed in the morning.
Several months later we added Perfect Size (meaning you can buy small, medium and large for the different sizes and they don't grow quite as much with baby, although there still is some ability to adjust) snap Fuzzibunz (another brand, similar to BumGenius) to our stash. We have enjoyed Fuzzibunz a lot, for several reasons: softness (they are really soft),  Fuzzibunz leg adjustments seem to work better for us and allow for a better leg/thigh fit, and they have proved a great overnight diaper for us and our heavy wetter.  I also like their color choices a bit more.  More recently, we've added Rumparooz to our stash.  Although more expensive than the other two brands, they are a really great diaper (very soft, they have 4 sizes versus the 3 that the other two have, they have a great double leg gussets system making leaks even less and their inserts have 6 possible settings).  I love their colors too!

Playing cloth diapering super-hero mascot? Aka: C hates getting dressed!
Overall, we actually really like prefolds the best in some ways.  They are cheap, they are very easy to clean (easier than the others), they are easier to maintain and they work well.  I hope to try flats at some point in the future but have not purchased them yet.  They are similar to prefolds and work with a cover, but are larger, require folding and dry much faster.  Flats are the very traditional "old school" cloth diaper that you would picture  a lot of times with pins.

We also do really enjoy our pocket diapers (Fuzzibunz, BumGenius and Rumparooz).  In addition to these, we purchased several hemp inserts for extra absorbancy at night and on long trips.  Hemp is amazing and a must-purchase (in my opinion).  We only bought 3 inserts and that's all we've really needed.  My least favorite of all my diapers is actually (ironically) my most expensive diaper.  Our organic BumGenius all in one (all in one or AIO meaning you do not have the pocket to stuff).  It is the least soft, the least absorbant and it takes the longest to dry.  We actually received this diaper by accident with one of our purchases (it was supposed to be a regular pocket diaper) but since we received it, we thought we would give it a try.  Just goes to show I guess that price does not always equal better.

A few other considerations with cloth diapers: 

~ Detergent does matter.  I would not recommend using regular laundry detergent on cloth.  We really like Rockin' Green detergent and also homeade detergent (some friends of ours made us some before we moved and it has been awesome).  Here's a helpful link a friend of mine gave me for detergent (Thanks, Corrie!).

~ Don't be intimidated!  It is worth the research, work and effort and there are some great websites out there to help.  Here are a few I enjoy to get you started:
                  - For flats:
                  - and love their blog,

~ When you first get your diapers, you really need to prep them.  They come with instructions to wash them initially a number of times and this is a very important step to increase and help with absorbancy and leaks.

~ For ordering or buying diapers I really like because they are Christian based company AND they have some of the best prefolds for quality and price.  I also really like because they always have free shipping (some of the cloth diaper sites have pretty high shipping rates).  Some of the other stores like also have deals and coupon codes which are nice and can save money.

~ Another great tip is to "like" many of these pages on Facebook.  They regularly will post deals and coupon codes and they also have great forums with answers to common questions etc that are helpful to read.  I have also found these forums to be very helpful.  If I post a comment with a question I always receive numerous responses, tips, helps and solutions.  It's great.  One in particular that I really like on facebook is but most the other sites also have facebook pages and are helpful.

That's a lot of information but I hope it is helpful.  It might not be for everyone but both Steve and I really have enjoyed cloth diapering and are so glad we made the switch (yes, even Steve really enjoys it....ask him, he'll tell you!).  And doing laundry 2-3 times a week?  Really.  Hasn't. Been. Bad.  Actually, I've enjoyed it.  Two of my favorite (and theraputic) things to do are hang a load of dripping-clean diapers up to dry in the sun and sit and fold a giant basket of clean cloth diapers, sorting into the various piles, stuffing pockets and putting them away.

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment or email or facebook me.  I would be happy to help, if I am able!


  1. Thanks for this post Sarah! So informative and really helpful. I mean, I don't have babies yet, but one day. ^^

  2. LOVE IT! Also, I'm wondering more about the hemp for overnight. I've never used it. I've tried the extra overnight inserts and all sorts of methods and finally do a disposable for overnight. Which hemp inserts did you try?

  3. Hey Kasi! We had a lot of issues at first with Caleb pee-ing through his diaper at night. What's worked well for us has been to use a pocket diaper with a thirsties hemp insert and two of the newborn inserts (you know how bumgenius onesize comes with a regular size insert plus a newborn insert? we use the newborn insert as a doubler). The diaper is a little thick but it's nighttime and he should be up moving around anyway! This has worked really really well for us, rarely any leaks. Word of warning with hemp, though: You need to prep it A LOT before using it or it won't be absorbent. But after you do, it is awesome. And since you wash every 2-3 days usually anyway, you can get buy with only buying 2-3...I only use them at night or long trips. Hope that helps!

  4. I've also heard really good things about joeybunz hemparooz but I haven't tried them myself....they are on a "someday" order but for now they aren't really a "need." =) If you end up trying them, let me know what you think!

  5. Wow! What a lot of time, care, and consideration put into this blog for all your "mom" friends! You have a kind heart, a lot of love and are a good friend.