We made the decision, before James was born, to use cloth diapers – mostly for cost reasons, but also environmental ones. I knew it would require a little extra effort compared to disposables, so I wanted to document how it’s going so far…
First, I had to figure out which diapers we wanted. There are so many options for cloth, and how was I to know which ones we’d actually like? Plus, the initial cost of the diapers was a bit daunting – some brands seemed almost identical, but the price points were drastically different. I asked friends who used cloth for brand (and quantity) recommendations and read reviews online, and finally decided on the popular and adjustable bumGenius (4.0 one-size with snaps), the very similar, but much cheaper Kawaii (original cross-over with snaps) and gdiapers (size small with compostable inserts). Luckily for us, friends and family were extremely generous with buying most of what we needed (we aimed for around 20-25 diapers total), so the initial cost ended up not being too bad.
What I didn’t realize was that we would have to wait until James’ belly button stump fell off before we could begin using any cloth, since we couldn’t fold the tops down. So it wasn’t until somewhere in week 2 that we began digging into our stash. Since the gdiapers, unlike the bumGenius and Kawaii, were a set size (so not as bulky as the folded up adjustables), they worked best at first on newborn James. Because he was so large already at birth (9 lbs 3 oz), he grew out of the gdiapers before we even went through the entire pack of inserts, and we moved on to the adjustables exclusively.
Both bumGenius and Kawaii a supposed to last from newborn all the way to potty training, and in construction they are exactly the same. The PUL shell and interior feels slightly different, but the inserts are the same material. The bumGenius inserts have an extra fold in the front, which helps when he hoses down a diaper at night. I’ve found that it’s actually easier to get stains out of the Kawaii with just regular washing.
So let’s talk the washing process. When the poopy diaper is removed, I immediately use some baby wipes to scrape off most of the poo into the trash, then spray with Shout before depositing the diaper into the Planet Wise wet bag. Then when it’s laundry time (every day for now, until James-the-pooper decides to slow down a little…), I separate the insert from the shell before throwing them in the washer. When we first brought James home, we only used fancy, expensive detergent, but once that bottle was gone we’ve simply been using “baby-safe” detergent from big brands. I know that you have to be careful of the ingredients in detergents because of residue that can be left on the cloth diapers…hard water can also be a problem (more info on that, and all things cloth, can be found at Kelly’s Closet). For drying, the inserts go in the dryer and the shells get hung over the wood stove (will use the clothesline come spring) in order to reduce wear and tear.
I do feel it’s a bit wasteful to use baby wipes to wipe the poo out of the diapers, especially because we use washcloths/rags with water to wipe down James – for cost and environmental reasons, but mostly because his little bum seems to get really irritated with baby wipes, even unscented ones. Once we’ve introduced solid foods, I’m hoping that simply dumping the poop into the toilet will work, as suggested by View Along the Way. I certainly don’t want to buy/install something as elaborate as a diaper sprayer – I might as well install a bidet! I will have to figure out the exact mechanics of remove-diaper-from-James-insert-poo-in-toilet, since the nursery is upstairs and the bathroom is downstairs…we’ll just have to cross that bridge (or walk those stairs) when the time comes!
One side note: When traveling to see family over Thanksgiving (a 2-day trip), we made the, very sanity-saving, decision to use disposables again while on the road, but once there used cloth. We’ll most likely do the same for Christmas visits and possibly the entire time we’re traveling and in Florida for a work/personal trip in March – we’ll see! It’s more important to me to do what I can to be green(ish), but to not stress myself out over it.
So, the cloth diaper adventure is going well so far! Stay tuned for what happens next…