Cloth Diapering for Geniuses

... because there is nothing dumb about choosing to cloth diaper!

In fact, cloth diapering is one of the smartest choices you can make for your family, your finances, your little one, and this (not your) beautiful planet. So if that is the choice you want to make, look no further because I am going to walk you through our decision, the system we use, and the benefits we have seen! I'll even include links to Amazon, etc. so that if you feel like purchasing, it will be easy-skeezy - a one stop shop!  

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Our Decision

Deciding to cloth diaper was easy for us - it felt more inevitable than optional. I am not a hoarder, but when it comes to trash I feel pretty bad about my contribution to landfills (think Wall-E). This is especially true when the thing I am throwing away could reasonably by recycled or repurposed. And honestly, my guilt goes a touch further than simply "feeling bad." I would actually call it "conviction" in the good ole fashioned churchy sense of the word. Meaning, environmental stewardship is a part of my faith system and when I disregard my call to care for what I have been given, the Holy Spirit checks me.

Treating the earth with respect and appreciation is a part of my response to God. Treating the earth with respect and appreciation is a part of my family's response to God. 

So what's so bad about disposables? Listen, according to the EPA 90-95% of American babies produce 27.4 billion single use, plastic diapers a year which comes to roughly 7,600,000,000 pounds of garbage (that is enough waste to fill the Yankee's stadium 15x over....every year). Each baby creates about 2000 pounds of diaper garbage in 2 years. 

Each diaper takes approximately 450 years to disintegrate in the ocean and well over 500 years in landfills. So, let me break that down for you:

  • If Martin Luther had written his 95 Theses on a pamper before he nailed it to that door, it would still be hanging there
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and John Calvin's pampers would still be with us 
  • If Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn had put Elizabeth I in pampers we would still have her fecal matter sprinkled about the English countryside (Move over Prince George, the Tudor's are back).

Cloth diapering, for us, is a way for Lois - even at her wee little baby-age - to respond, in action, to the Lord. It is how we, as a family unit, are choosing to be faithful to God's tenderness toward all living creatures. It is how Daniel and I communicate to Lois that we take environmental stewardship seriously. And in a year or so, when Lois' language skills improve we will tell her, as we strap on that big pink cloth diaper, that in this family we put our faith into action. We will tell her that those recycle bins (and her undergarments) are one way that her daddy and I choose to respond in love to God's goodness.

Added Perks

On top of all this - cloth diapers are gentler on a babies skin (she hasn't had one - not one - tiny bit of diaper rash). They are comfortable, adorable, and Lois can't tell when they are wet. They are easier than I would have imagined, and they are cheaper....to the tune of $2000 cheaper. Did I mention they are cute? I mean look at her: 

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Our System

There are several different kinds of cloth diapers out there. They have come a pretty long way since the days of pins and prefolds. If you want to see a break down of the kinds of diaper options out there check out these informative little pages - BabyCenter and Kelly's Closet . But basically they are:

  • Prefolds
  • Hybrids
  • All-in-Ones
  • Pocket Diapers

You can check out reviews of different brands of each at Babble Blog. We chose pocket diapers because they were highly recommended and are super easy. In fact, we chose a mix of Fuzzibunz and BumGenius 4.0. Although I think I prefer the BumGenius, the Fuzzibunz come with excellent customer service and a lifetime warranty, which is definitely nice. I have had to contact them on more than one occasion with a question about how to size them or how to wash them, and they have been more than helpful. I also think the adjustable leg and waste elastics make the diapers fit younger babies. We started using them when Lois' umbilical cord fell off. She was about ten pounds. Here is another quick tip: set a start date and take the plunge. Otherwise, you'll be tempted to stay with the status quo I think. Even for us, the day her cord fell off I was pretty nervous and wanted to turn back. So happy I didn't. 

Here is a breakdown of what a pocket diaper is and how they work:   

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You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but pocket diapers are as close as you can get, with the convenience of quick and easy cleaning, to the structure of a disposable diaper. I do diaper laundry every other day with a stash of 20 diapers. When I pull them off the line, I stuff them, fold them, and throw them on the shelf of her changing nook so that they are ready for use.  

How to wash a cloth diaper

Let me be clear: I NEVER TOUCH POO. There is no mess, I am not elbow deep in fecal matter every time I do laundry. The polyester fibers of the pocket diapers above let go of the poo pretty easily and the sun does wonders for sanitizing and bleaching. I even use cloth wipes so even the part where you have to clean her tush is easy and poo-touch free. Here is how you do it: 

  1. Take diaper off baby and put in diaper pail lined with reusable pail-liner.
  2. Take pale liner to washing machine and turn inside out into the tub (I have an HE front loader). Do not touch diapers, push them out of liner until liner is inside out like you might do a glove. The inserts fall out in the wash and get clean too!
  3. Run a cold "Rinse + Spin" cycle (20 minutes)
  4. Put a scoop of Charlie's Soap (you need to be using additive free detergent with these diapers to prevent them from getting build up) and run a "Normal" hot wash/cold rinse cycle + extra rinse (60 minutes). Another highly recommended soap is Rockin Green. Here is a list of pretty much every detergent in the store and how well they are suited for the diaper task. 
  5. Take diapers to clothes line and hang. If it is too wet or too cold, take the covers out and hang in laundry room, living room, or where ever. Put the inserts in the dryer on medium heat
  6. While you're talking to your baby or maybe while she is taking a nap, stuff the diapers and put away (10 minutes) 

If you live in a big metropolitan area - skip all this and call your local diaper service. They do all this, including provide the diapers and clean them, for you at a weekly or monthly rate. Here is the note I put on the washer so that my nanny, my manny, or my mother can help if she ever feels so inclined:

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Shopping List

Here is a list, with links to everything you need to get started cloth diapering. I recommend buying a couple different kinds and seeing what you prefer. I didn't do this, but I know its probably wise to do so. I just went by word of mouth and dove in.  

Diapers - BumGenius or Fuzzibunz. There are several good places to get diapers including Ebay, Amazon, and direct from the maker. In fact, I might recommend getting Fuzzi's straight from the retailer to be sure that you're getting the newest model as there have been some recent improvements. There is a cool consignment-ish option called Diaper Swappers if you want to go that route. If you're a member of Zulily, they have some cute smaller brands available every once in a while. Tell them Katie Penry sent you! (20)

Wipes and Wipes Warmer - I use the Grovia wipes because they are nice and thick. The warmer is Prince Lionheart. Not a necessity, but if you use cloth wipes then you don't have to have a trashcan AND a diaper pail by your changing station. Also, you can make your own wipe solution, they are great at cleaning baby, and babies usually love them. Lois can be screaming on the table, but when I pull out her wipe (she knows the smell at this point) she gets very quiet and starts laughing. I mean, she is AMPED for that warm wipe.  (12-15)

See the rest of the list after the jump. But first, check out my set up:  

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Magic Stick  - We use Grovia stick, because its therapeutic for the bum but safe for cloth diapers. We really don't need it, but we use it when we put her in the biosoaker inserts. 

Disposable Inserts - These biosoakers are great to have when you are going to have a long day away from the house. We take the insert out and lay the disposable (which is biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals) right on top of her diaper. They have stickies to keep the diaper in place, but we find them unnecessary. We are also afraid the sticker might leave residue. Why a biosoaker? Because some days you want an even easier system. Let yourself have it. A new baby is stressful enough. 

Extra Inserts for those big night time pees - I put a bamboo insert in her night diaper. along with the insert that comes with the diaper. We call it "big brown" and she loves big brown because she stays dry all night. A big accomplishment since she sleeps 12 hours at a time. (10)

Diaper Sprayer - for when those big poos start happening, you can just flush them down the toilet. We bought the BumGenius one.

Wet Bags - Planet Wise makes some cute ones that you can keep in your diaper and just throw in the wash when you get back home. Wet bags are another very easy thing to find on Zulily. (2)

Wipe Solution - I make a little water based solution to put on my wipes before I put them in the warmer. Here are some good recipes.  

Pail Liners - Mentioned above. Made by Planet Wise. (2) 

And that pretty much covers it! Do you use cloth diapers? What works for you? What are your most necessary items. Let me know in the comments section. Also feel free to drop a question and I'll get back to you. Good luck and happy diapering!

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