I didn’t even know people cloth diapered their babies anymore until one of our moms brought their toddler to the clinic with the cutest little bum I’ve ever seen! I stared wide-eyed as she explained what a cloth diaper was & how much she loved doing it. Through my plastered smile, I nicely explained that it felt like a little too much for me to consider as a new mom; some things are just easier to pay for & throw away right? Then J & I sat down to look at the ever-thinning margin in our budget after a move, new house, student loans, impending child & lessening income. I realized I had to become that Home Economist Dave Ramsey talked about, so I got creative. One of the more ambitious endeavors (& the most difficult to talk my husband into) was cloth diapering…
Reading all the crunchy mom blogs (you guys are awesome & way more dedicated than I am) was slightly intimidating. I felt like if I did this, I had to do it ALL THE WAY. Every day, in public, in the best brands & most expensive extras. Plus, there were so many options. So many ways to mess up & waste money. But so many benefits.
- First & foremost, cloth diapering saves money. We searched until we found an actual financial breakdown comparing disposables with the start-up investment of cloth diapers & extra laundry. This adventure can be as expensive or as cheap as you want, depending on your motivation. You have the ability to save hundreds since your diapers can last until potty training! For us, this also meant not paying for weekly trash service. We burn the occasional diapers in the backyard with the rest of the trash.
- If you are into saving the environment, cloth diapering obviously helps you do this. I have to admit I’m not the greenest, but it’s nice to know I’m helping out!
- I’m not sure how much truth there is to the claim that the chemicals in disposable diapers & wipes can be harmful to your little one, but I do know that Baby J has less issues with his skin when wearing cloth.
- They are cute!!
The reason I call myself a Type B Cloth Diaper Mom is that I haven’t gone all the way with things like making my own detergent & rash cream, buying the “best” brands, & cloth diapering exclusively. I literally looked for the easiest & most seamless ways to buy, wash, & attach these things…
So, my goal here is to invite other frightened Moms-to-be over to the cloth diapering side with my Type B solutions to the issues you might come across when researching this strange idea. I would like to show that this can be done without spending hours taking care of baby bottoms, that it is possible for moms who work part time, & even for families who do not have hundreds to spend on creating their cloth diaper stash.
There are way too many options & they cost way too much!
It’s true that there are many options. Going by reviews is difficult because every baby is so different. Look for generally good reviews, but don’t get bogged down. Try a few different brands.
All-in-ones (AIOs), the most expensive, work just like disposables, except you wash & reuse them. We use these at night since they are the simplest. I started out using AIOs that were given to me by a momma I trusted to clean and strip them correctly, then slowly bought my own as they went on sale at Amazon, Kelly’s Closet, or Nicki’s Diapers. This way our start-up cost was spread out & I could shop deals, only buying as many as I needed to get through three nights at the most.
All-in-two’s (AI2s), the cheapest, work by fastening a cloth prefold with a Snappi, 1950s style, & adding a waterproof cover, which can be reused multiple times before washing. We use these during the day because they are the most economical. I bought a pack of Gerber prefolds for $14 using gift cards from a baby shower & they have worked amazingly. They need to be folded down at first because they are long, which adds extra absorbency anyway. My little guy loves to be naked so I leave him in this low-profile setup a lot during the day! When you are ready to dress him or pick him up, just add the cover. We like Imagine or Thirsties covers, chosen for their price.
In between, you have pocket diapers that require placing an absorbent medium inside an AIO type diaper before wearing, then shaking it out before washing. I have grown to LOVE Fuzzibuns pocket diapers after finding an unopened pack of six at a consignment sale for super cheap. They do best for the first long stretch of the night because they are so absorbent!
Most cloth diapers can be worn from birth to potty training because they are one-size & adjustable. However, you will probably need newborn sized AIOs if your baby is lanky like Baby J was. He had leaks at night since they couldn’t be adjusted tightly enough. Some people buy extra “soaker pads” to add at night, but I just put a few cloth wipes inside the diaper to increase the absorbency. The AI2s do fine!
I went even further & made about 100 cloth wipes while I was still pregnant. I figured if I was going to be doing diaper laundry, I might as well wash the wipes with them. I read the most complicated setups for cloth wipes including five-ingredient solution to wipe warmers to intricate sewing jobs. Y’all. Using cloth wipes is so simple! For $15 at Hobby Lobby, I got all the wipes Baby J will ever need. We have a mix of flannel & fleece. I cut them into imperfect squares & rectangles. The hardest part was straight stitching the edges of each of the flannel wipes with a sewing machine to keep them from fraying (fleece doesn’t fray). Surging would have been better, but I don’t know how, hence the Type B title of this post. I fill a $1 spray bottle from Walmart with filtered water & some baby soap. Spray each wipe right before using & you don’t have to worry about mold from soaking in solution, a problem that even some store-bought wipes have.
Normal detergent & diaper creams can ruin the absorbency of most cloth diapers.
Instead of special ordering expensive detergent, or making my own, I found that the original Tide detergent (no fragrance, fabric softener, etc.) is actually recommended by many cloth diaper manufacturers. The specialty detergent many moms write about are most likely chosen for their naturalness, so it’s not a necessity. As for diaper cream, when I see redness or chapped skin (mainly after wearing disposables) normal diaper cream can be used in the AI2s if your prefolds are cotton like ours.
Extra laundry is required.
Cloth diapers must be washed at least every 2 days to prevent bad things from happening. Washing requires extra steps that vary depending on the blog you read. Here is our diaper laundry routine, a simplification of LOTS of research on what is actually needed to get them clean while saving time & energy.
Sundays, Tuesdays, & Fridays are wash days. Then all diapers, wipes, covers & wet bags are stripped once a month. Stripping means extra washing with tea tree oil to remove any microbes, ammonia, or detergent buildup that might be present. This is completely doable with my schedule of working two days a week!
Isn’t cloth diapering nasty?
I haven’t found it to be any nastier than dealing with disposables. We actually smell less noxious odors with cloth diapers, both on & off the baby. The wet bag full of dirty cloth diapers sits in our living room right beside the diaper station & we have never smelled a thing. And unlike disposables, cloth holds in the poo smell until you are literally looking at it!
Exclusively breastfed babies have completely water soluble…poop. So you can throw everything right in the washer & it will nicely disappear, though some stains may happen. Formula & solid food eaters will have excretions that are not water soluble & have to be dumped in the toilet before washing.
I don’t want to carry dirty diapers around with me in public…
I don’t either, that’s why we only do it at home. When he goes to his aunts when I work, when we go to church, visits with family, errands around town, he wears disposables. He is a little over three months old now & we are still using disposable diapers & wipes that were given to us! The only diapers & wipes we have purchased were during the first 2 weeks when his circumcision & belly button were healing. So we are still saving a ton of money!
It sounds like a huge learning curve.
Kind of. My goal as a first time mom was to add one thing a week & I was very gracious with myself. Week one was about keeping everyone alive. Week two was about emerging from the fog & taking a shower. Week three I began cloth diapering. Take your time! Prepare ahead of time & don’t rush. Like everything, cloth diapering will become second nature. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Using disposable newborns for the first two weeks was best for us anyway because it made it much easier to care for his cord & circumcision.
I quickly learned that it made more sense to set up a diaper station in our room for nighttime & in the living room for daytime, instead of taking him to his super cute changing table 12 times a day. Here is one of our stations!
To date I have spent $247 on all cloth diapers, wipes & accessories. My rough calculations show that I have already saved money & we are only 3 months in! So what do you think? Any questions about our experience? Any advice from your experience?