At my baby shower, we played a game called “This or That?” One of the questions was, “Cloth or Disposable Diapers?” When I flipped the card that said I would be cloth diapering, a few guests were surprised. In fact, I remember a certain someone commenting that “Oh, I know you’ll hate cloth diapering!” 10 months into motherhood, I’ve proved everyone wrong- we’re still using cloth diapers and enjoying it as much as (if not more!) than when we first tried cloth when Drew was 6 weeks old!
Why We Chose Cloth
One of my biggest concerns with having a baby was how expensive it would be, so I initially considered cloth solely due to financial savings. After learning about some other benefits (such as being environmentally-friendly and better for baby’s sensitive skin!), I knew cloth was the right choice for my family.
What We Used
Once I settled on cloth, and it was time to pick a diaper style, I decided to try All-in-One diapers. They’re the most similar to disposable diapers, and I figured the easier they are to use, the more likely I was to stick with it– maybe my husband would give them a try as well! I originally bought Alvababy’s All-in-One diapers with microfiber inserts, but later switched to bamboo inserts paired with a folded flour sack towel (the microfiber wasn’t absorbent enough for my baby’s needs.) For nighttime, I pair the bamboo inserts with hemp inserts for extra absorbency. We use Grovia’s cloth wipes, which I prefer because they are thicker than traditional baby washcloths, but still soft enough for baby bottoms. To make my wipes solution, I use one square of Baby Bits and 2 cups of water in my OxoTot wipe warmer.
Not knowing if I would stick with cloth diapering, I bought only 18 diapers. This was enough to last me about 2 days when using cloth exclusively, so I washed diaper laundry every other day. Had I known how much I would enjoy cloth diapering, I would have bought 6-12 more. (Although in the larger size, since he will soon outgrow his “one-size” diapers.) Once my son started daycare (which requires disposable diapers) and there were fewer diapers to wash, I reduced my washing cycle to twice a week. To store dirty diapers until wash day, I use a Diaper Dekor pail with a wet/dry bag. (I have 2 wet/dry bags so that one can be washed and the other can be in the diaper pail!)
My Wash Routine
I do a pre-wash on gentle with warm water with half a scoop of Tide original powder detergent, half a scoop of Borax, and half a cup of Calgon (we have hard water in Iowa, so Borax + Calgon is a must!) Then, I rewash them on the super-wash setting. To dry, I toss my diapers in the dryer on low heat with 6 wool dryer balls. The wool dryer balls help the diapers dry faster and cut down on static cling. After about 25 minutes, I pull the shells from the dryer so that the waterproof lining doesn’t melt and re-start the dryer to finish drying the inserts.
Fabric softener sheets and traditional diaper cream can also ruin the waterproof lining, so I use cloth-safe diaper cream from Earth Mama. Surprisingly, my son hasn’t had any cases of diaper rash while wearing cloth; the same cannot be said for when he wears disposables! Every other month, I use a laundry treatment by Grovia called Mighty Bubbles to help strip the diapers from buildup and prevent ammonia burn. Ammonia burn isn’t really an issue when using a proper wash routine, but I still use Mighty Bubbles nonetheless.
Cloth diapering can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning. I found that joining Facebook groups like Cloth Diapering Mamas and Fluff Love & CD Science was helpful in troubleshooting issues such as diaper leaks. Even now, 8 months in, I know there’s still a lot I can learn!
But What About the Poop?
Baby poop was one of the factors that made some people think I would hate cloth diapering, but regardless of what diapering option I chose, I’d have to deal with poop either way! Because breastfed poop is liquidy, when I was nursing, I was able to throw diapers into the wash as-is. Once I switched to formula, I had to use a diaper sprayer. Not wanting to get poop water all over my bathroom but also not wanting to pay the high prices for a store-made one, I DIYed a diaper sprayer shield– a small trash can with the bottom cut off and chip clips to hold the diaper. We used gifted disposables for the first 6 weeks, so we didn’t have to deal with the tar-like newborn baby poop in cloth.
What I Didn’t Expect about Cloth
My Best Piece of Advice for New Cloth Mamas
Getting into a routine is vital. I start a load of diapers first thing in the morning, throw them in the dryer at lunch, and then fold them in the evening while watching an episode of television or listening to a podcast.
Another piece of advice is you don’t have to cloth diaper exclusively. I don’t! We use cloth diapers and cloth wipes at home, but we use disposable diapers and wipes at daycare or when we’re traveling. (I’ll be sad to pack up my cloth diapers for a few months while they are on a boat headed to Germany, haha!) Sometimes, if I felt overwhelmed with life, I’d use disposable diapers for a few days. It was usually enough of a break to get me back in the mood for the cloth routine, plus seeing how quickly ‘sposies filled up our trash can was a good motivator!
And finally, if you’re considering cloth, just give it a try! There’s no harm in deciding that cloth isn’t for you. If you’re on the fence and don’t want to invest a ton of money into something you might not start with, you can start small with 12-18 diapers. If you like it, great! If not, you can sell your diaper stash.