If you read my anti-breast feeding article (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2730457/reasons_not_to_breast_feed.html?cat=25), you might have noticed that I was interested in cloth diapering. It seems that I really want to be a “crunchy” mom, and I just don’t know where to start. For the past three months, I have been doing a lot of research when it comes to cloth diapering. I decided to share what I have learned about cloth diapering with all the other mothers out there.
The first thing you should know about cloth diapering is that it is not just prefolds and plastic pants anymore. There are many different types of cloth diapers. The different types of cloth diapers are:
Flats and Prefolds: These are what most people visualize when they think of a cloth diaper. They are both squares of cloth that must be folded and are usually pinned or snappied around a baby. The only difference is that a flat is all one thickness, and a prefold already has a thicker area in the middle. Flats and prefolds require water proof diaper covers. If you do not want to use a pin or a snappi, you can fold your diaper into thirds (longways) and place it in the diaper cover like that. Some people will tell you that these are the cheapest types of diapers, but that is not always the case. They do hold up well over time, so it would be acceptable to buy some used at a reduced price. Otherwise, the diapers may be between $1 and $3 each. The covers are usually between $8-$15 dollars each. The cheapest place to buy these new is ebay. Good online stores for prefolds and covers are Green Mountain Diapers and Diaperjunction.
Fitted Diapers: Fitted diapers, to me, look a lot like ‘diaper underwear.’ They are a lot like a prefold where the folding is already done for you. Fitted diapers are also usually the cutest, but they must still be covered with a diaper cover. Some people may ask why cloth diapering Moms spend money on a cute diaper that will be covered up. Most moms respond that it is the baby equivalent of wearing cute underwear. The best fitted diapers can be found on Etsy and Hyena Cart, made by work at home moms.
All in Ones/All in Twos: Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, which can be confusing. An all in one (or AIO) is basically a cloth pamper. It looks just like a disposable diaper, but it is made of cloth. In my opinion, an AIO only has one piece. Otherwise, their name is misleading. An AIO that has a snap in soaker is sometimes still called an AIO. Other times it is called an AI2. Typically, an AIO is good for only one use, where as you can replace the soaker on an AI2 and continue to use the same diaper. These diapers are the easiest to use, but may take longer to dry.
Pocket Diapers: Pocket Diapers are the best diapers to use if you have a very skinny baby or a heavy wetter. They still look a lot like a pamper (with no absorbent part) you must stuff the diaper with inserts to make it absorbent. This means that you can make the diaper as absorbent as necessary…and many pocket diapers are one sized, meaning you can use them on babies or toddlers. You can also use a prefold to stuff a pocket diaper. AIOs and Pockets can be found at any diaper store (Kelly’s Closet and Nikki’s Diapers come to mind) but the cheapest place to find them is on Ebay.
Hybrid Diapers: The most popular hybrid diapers are Grobaby (Grovia) Gdiapers and flip. They are like AI2 in that they come with a soaker that should be replaced at each diaper change, and an outer shell. They are hybrid diapers because you can use a cloth soaker or a flushable soaker. Flushable soakers make the diaper a little more like a disposable, and may be useful on a trip. Flushable soakers are usually more expensive than disposables though, so if I was going on a trip I would probably just pick up a pack. Disposable soakers are also useful if your baby needs an antibiotic diaper ointment. Diaper ointment The largest selection of hybrid diapers are available on their company websites.
The next thing to know about cloth diapers is that they come with more accessories than your toddlers barbie doll.
You will need some sort of diaper pail. Diaper stores sell special pails and bags for this. The bags are useful if you are going to cloth diaper while out of the house, but for home I am using a large icing bucket from my local grocery store’s bakery.
You can get cloth wipes, which many women find useful because you can toss the whole mess into your diaper pail. They are pricier than you might expect, so I would recommend using baby washcloths from the dollar store or making your own. Receiving blankets make good cloth wipes when cut up. You can sew around the edges to keep them from fraying. Mine have just been left to fray. You can also cut up old t-shirts for cloth wipes, as these will not fray.
Many people get a diaper sprayer to help keep the diapers clean. They typically run about $40 new. They are also available on ebay, or you can make your own with parts from the hardware store. A diaper sprayer, in my opinion, is a luxury item.
You may not be able to use your regular detergent on your cloth diapers. Charlies Soap and Rockin Green Detergent are both very popular in the diaper community. You can also make your own, or use a regular detergent with no additives. (Tide Free and Clear is one example. Do not assume that just because a detergent says it is free and clear it is without additives. All Free and Clear has several brighteners)
If you want more information about cloth diapers, look for the rest of my series on Diapering. The Diaper Jungle is also a good resource.