Monday, August 4, 2014

The New and Improved Cloth Diaper

It's no secret that cloth diapers are better for the planet and your wallet, however, the time and gross factor are enough for most people to say "no freakin' way." I hear you- really, I do. That was my exact sentiment for two of my children. To assuage my guilty conscience we used diapers labeled biodegradable, so while my conscience was clear so, too, was my bank account. Then during my 3rd child's third month I stumbled across an article that put things into a new perspective. Now I'm saying ewww to disposable diapers.

The days of our grandmother's and mother's cloth diapering are over. (Thank God.) No public toilet rinsing- no home toilet rinsing for that matter, no pins, leaks, blow-outs, and ugly plastic covers. Ba-bye. Hello to adorable diaper covers that grow with your child and an ingenious little rubber piece called a snappi. The snappi has little plastic teeth that grip the cloth and hold the diaper together without the aggravation and safety issues of pins. Putting on a cloth diaper is as easy as:

1. Folding the diaper.

2. Fastening the ends with a snappi.

3. Putting the cover on over the diaper.

I love cloth diapering- love it! Yes, there is some extra time involved but we are talking minutes here. Minutes, in my humble opinion, well served.

But let's talk the nitty gritty- disposal. This is how I do it: When my daughter was exclusively breast fed the soiled diapers went right into the wet bag to be laundered. Now that she is on solids, her "reconstituted" solids do have to be plopped in the toilet. (If you read the fine print on disposables- you should be doing this with them, too!) I do this by taking the soiled diaper, turning it over the bowl and literally plopping it in the john.  I never touch poop- ever. When the wet bag is full I unzip it and empty it into the washing machine. My hands do not touch the dirty diapers. When the bag is empty I turn it inside out and it also goes in with the diapers. I do a cold rinse first to help loosen up any bits and pieces and then do a regular load with hot water using a mild detergent. The diapers come out clean and fresh every time.

Now, poop diapers will end up staining unless you rinse them right after you change them. Since its not a sanitation issue and the diapers get just as clean with the extra rinse in the washer, I choose to skip this step. If the stains will be an issue for you there are spray attachments that can be attached to the toilet's clean water valve to clean the diapers, again without having to touch anything gross. Or you can dry the clean diapers in the sun for a natural bleaching action. A step we should be taking anyway, if the weather is acceptable, since it saves money and is better for the environment.

And speaking of money, exactly how much is all this going to cost? If you are new to the world of cloth diapering it can be a little overwhelming to realize the quantity and variety of differing cloth diaper systems. The most economic is using a diaper cover with prefolds.

My own cloth diapering inventory includes: 6 covers, 24 prefolds, 2 snappis, 4 hemp inserts (extra absorbency for naps and night time), 2 wet bags for storage of dirty diapers, and 1 travel wet bag.  Everything is stored in the bottom drawer of my daughter's dresser for easy access for diaper changes. There is a jelly jar with holes punched in the top that is filled with baking soda to help with any odor issues. Due to the smelliest portion of the dirty diaper going down the toilet, the smell factor is usually not a problem. I decided to use the Thirsties brand for the diaper covers because the company employs stay-at-home moms to sew their covers. Their covers cost $12.75 each and come in a ton of cute designs. The prefolds I use are OsoCozy unbleached Indian cotton and they run at $28.88 for a dozen at the infant size.

While researching current prices for cloth diapers I came across the Econobum line. They have 2 different kits: the Trial Pack that includes 1 cover and 3 prefolds for $11.95 and the Full Kit with 3 covers, 12 prefolds and 1 wet bag for $49.95. Where the heck was this a year ago! Econobum also grows with your child so you can use the same covers and prefolds from birth to potty-training. The covers and prefolds are all unbleached which is a must. So the cost to diaper your baby for 2 years using the Econobum system is:

2  Econobum Full Kit $49.95

1  2pk Snappi infant size $5.75

1 2pk Snappi toddler size $7.15

2  2pk Thirsties Hemp Inserts $9

                                                          Total:          $130.89
(All above prices are from It’s a great website and company that will really help you get started in cloth diapering.)

We were using the Nature Baby Care line while we were using disposables due to their claim of being biodegradable- and they most likely are but not in our garbage dumps. My calculations are under the assumption that newborns get changed about every 2 hours and babies and toddlers get changed about 6 times during the day. I also figured in the rising prices of disposables as baby gets bigger. So with this criteria, using the Nature Baby Care line we would have spent $1,743.99 to diaper my daughter for 2 years. (Prices for Nature Baby Care is from

Cloth: $130.89         Disposables: $1,743.99
Your savings using cloth: $1,613.10
Savings to our planet and your baby's health: priceless

 A few pointers on cloth diapers:

-make sure to wash and completely dry the diapers 6 - 7 times on the hot cycle before use. Sounds like a lot, I know, but the oils need to be stripped from the cloth to make them more absorbent. They will leak if this is not done and the water used for this priming still does not even come close to the damage that disposables cause to this planet.

-babies usually don't get diaper rash with cloth but if it happens regular diaper ointment cannot be used as it will make the diapers repel instead of absorb fluids.  The ointment does not wash out of the cloth. We use straight up coconut oil for everyday protection and breast milk lotion (look for it in a future post) for any diaper rash that might crop up.

-Youtube has some great videos on how to put a cloth diaper on a baby. I'll admit the first day was awkward but by day two I was a pro.

Today's cloth diapers are not the chore they used to be and, with their innovative design and thrifty price tag, are a great alternative for parents on a tight budget and for anyone who wishes to lessen their eco footprint. I urge you to give them a try!

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