I'm finally getting around to answering some of my email... so stay tuned if you've emailed with a question for me in the past, oh, about 4 months!
Today, I am yet again bringing up the topic of cloth diapering... yes, on a food blog. ;) Two readers have written with questions, and so here are my replies! Feel free to add your own cloth diapering experience and tips at the end, as well! :)
First, an email from Brandi:
I have a couple of questions about switching over to cloth. We have 5 daughters. Two in diapers now, and 1 will be born in August. I am hoping to have the oldest in diapers out by the baby's arrival, and then we will have 2 in diapers again.
Anyway, do you use Gerber prefolds? I would like to switch to save money. But, I also know my husband would not like to deal with messy, leaky diapers or a wife that might on occasion complain about cloth diapering.
My girls have sensitive skin. All have had bad cases of diaper rash... and don't do well with store bought wipes. So, I am thinking-- can I switch to Gerber pre-folds and get a better cover to go with them? Use pins... and use washcloths and water for cleaning bottoms?
I tried out the Gerber briefly... and they didn't seem absorbent. But, I only washed them once...
Give me your insight here. I really want to save money and really need it to be a remotely easy switch. My girls are 5,4,2.5,1 and 7mos pre-born! I homeschool and am home all of the time.
Brandi, thanks for writing! Congratulations on your new little blessing, who is probably born by now (since I took so long to reply!)!! :)
You've probably already read my more in-depth post about my cloth diapering method. :) When I started out cloth diapering 3+ years ago, I had about 6 different brands/thicknesses/kinds of diapers, because I just got whatever people gave me at my baby shower! I didn't have any preferences because I didn't know anything about cloth diapers, so I just hopped in and tried them all. :) Eventually, I asked my mom to sew the flat-fold diapers into pre-folded diapers for me, because I found that it took more time and space to fold the flat-fold diapers, and pre-folds were working just fine for me. Some people do like the flat-fold diapers because they dry more quickly, though! :)
So to answer your first question, I have used two different kinds of Gerber pre-folds. One kind was thick and high-quality (like what is called "Chinese pre-folds" online) and I have never seen them in stores or anywhere else. The other kind was the birds-eye Gerber pre-folds like Wal-mart sells. Mine were fairly absorbent (for a light, lower-quality diaper), but don't hold up under heavy use like the higher-quality pre-folds would. I did like them for a newborn, since they were soft and just the right thickness for my newborns. They wouldn't be absorbent enough for Eliyahu (18 months) now, so if I use those, I add another layer of diaper.
If you wash your Gerber pre-folds a few more times, and be sure to not use any fabric softener (or laundry detergent that contains fabric softening agents!) or dryer sheets, they might do better for you. And at the very least, since you already have them, you could double them up with another diaper for nighttime use or something! That's what I use mine for right now! :)
I haven't had leaking problems with my cloth diapers, but I do tend to add another layer if I think it might be needed (right now, I have a bunch of thin, almost-worn-out diapers that I'm trying to completely wear out, so I can use my new ones!), and of course, change frequently. Joshua doesn't change the cloth diapers, unless it's some kind of emergency. :) I have just always done that job (so, I am faster and better at it!) and he helps with other things instead.
As far as worrying about complaining about cloth diapers... well, I will admit that Joshua had heard me groan, "Another messy diaper?! This is the fourth one today!"
But a surprising number of people who use cloth diapers actually love using cloth! I know I do! They're less smelly (because the poo goes down the toilet and not in the trash can) and it's fun to wrap a baby's bottom in freshly-laundered cotton! I used disposable diapers until Yehoshua (my first baby) was 3-4 weeks old, and I worried that I would have a difficult time switching to cloth. I did stay home a lot, and didn't plan any special trips for a few days, but when I switched to cloth I actually really enjoyed it, to my surprise! :) Now, don't blame me if you end up hating cloth diapers, but I'm just saying... maybe you'll surprise yourself and love them! :)
Eliyahu (18 months) has sensitive skin, also. I was using disposable diapers when he was a newborn, and when he was 2 days old, he got horrible diaper rash that wouldn't go away until I switched to cloth! (I tried allll of my tricks to get it to clear up, but it turned out to be the disposable diapers themselves that were causing it!) He's been fine ever since! I have always used just a washcloth with warm water to clean his bottom, and it works great. I like my thin homemade baby washcloths for wiping newborns, but for older babies I just use a regular washcloth. The wipes just get laundered with the diapers. Washcloths work so much better than the commercial baby wipes, in my opinion! :)
Now, to answer your question about diapers and diaper covers: If I were starting from scratch, and didn't have a lot of money to spend on cloth diapers (i.e., diapers that cost $15 each or more wouldn't fit my budget, not that they're a "bad deal", just that I need to do it for a lot cheaper than that!), I would buy some Chinese Prefolds. This page has some great info about pre-folds, and this page has ordering info (pre-folds are at the top). I have not ordered from this company, but this will at least give you an idea of what you want. And their prices seem decent. :)
Also, and this is just my personal experience/opinion (like everything else I've written so far!), I would only get the regular size of prefolds, rather than newborn or toddler sizes. They can be folded down to fit a smaller baby, which is my preference. I have tried the newborn size of prefolds and didn't like them as well, plus, when the baby gorws out of them, they're only really useful for night-time layering (I just use another diaper rather than special "doublers"). I'm a really practical person, and part of the reason I like pre-folds is because they can be used for 2-3 years without the child outgrowing them, if you get the regular size. :)
For diaper covers, I personally use and like the Dappi nylon covers. (This link goes to the cheapest price I have found online for these covers, and I have ordered from this company twice with great service.) They're a little more expensive ($2 each) than the Gerber vinyl covers, but more comfortable and will last much, MUCH longer. I did use the Gerber vinyl covers for about 2 years, until most of the ones I had wore out! But I think the nylon covers are a better investment because they don't crack so easily.
That is just the cheapest option for diaper covers (besides making your own, which I have not done!) and has given me very few leaks. I have tried diaper covers with velcro or snaps, and both tended to leak more, and the velcro wore out faster than the rest of the cover. Those covers were more convenient to use, though, and if you have a little more money to spend on diaper covers, I have heard good things about the Motherease (brand) covers and the Bummis Super Whisper Wraps. :)
So this is just the basics, and what works well for me. :) While I realize that spending even several hundred dollars on cloth diapers is a good deal compared to buying disposables every week, I've honestly just never had the budget surplus to make me want to go another route besides pre-folds and cheap covers! Recently, my mom has been sewing me some new pre-folds from receiving blankets and they work great. The two of us watch for used receiving blankets and can usually buy them for about 10 cents each. I can hardly wait for my old, frayed diapers to completely wear out so I can start using all the colorful ones we've made. :)
I'd love it if you other moms chimed in about what your favorites are for cloth diapering! :)
Okay, now, an email from Lynn:
Thank you so much for all of your information about cloth diapering. It has been incredibly helpful. I am due with my first child in November and need further advice.
I definitely want to use cloth diapers, but how many in which sizes will I need? Is a dozen in each size enough? What about the Dappis, how many nylon covers in each size will I need?
I went to Babies R Us and their selection is sparse to say the least. They have 3 ply, 4ply, and 6 ply. Which should I get? Or should I order the ones off of the green mountain website? Any advice would be helpful.
Most people think I'm nuts for attempting cloth diapering so I don't have anyone I can ask about these specifics. I really need some solid numbers so I know what to order so I'm prepared!
Lynn, you're quite welcome, and congratulations on your expectancy! :)
The amount of diapers in various sizes will depend on what sort of diapers you plan on using. As I mentioned above, I really liked just using the "regular" (not newborn or toddler) size pre-folds. They can be folded down for a smaller baby, and I have used the same diapers for mine throughout their diapering days. I do have some diapers that are thicker than others, and the only issue with using a bigger diaper on a smaller baby is that if it's too thick, it could be too big and bulky. But a thinner "regular" sized diaper should work just fine on a newborn.
Since I only used one size of diapers, I had/have about 5-6 dozen. I think the least amount of diapers I would want to have would be 3-4 dozen, since my babies seemed to wet frequently. And when I had two in diapers at once time, I had 7 dozen diapers and it was just barely a three-day supply. :)
For diaper covers, I like to have about 15 (but at least 10) covers (since newborns can have messy diapers so often!) in any given size. For the Dappi nylon covers, since the sizes run smaller, I skipped the newborn size and just used small, medium, large, and extra-large/toddler. You could easily just order the small size (or newborn, if you plan to use cloth diapers right away!), to see if you liked them and how well they worked for you, before ordering the other sizes. No sense investing into something that doesn't work for you! :)
I've never been to Babies R Us, and I've never ordered from Green Mountain! Maybe some of my readers have? :) You could always try some of each. I know my cheap Gerber pre-folds (mentioned in my answer to Brandi above) aren't going to withstand heavy use for several years, but they worked great for my newborns. I actually liked having different brands/thicknesses because the thinner ones were better for newborns, and the thicker ones were great for slightly older babies!
If you want to get some variety, you could always ask for cloth diapers as baby shower gifts! That's how I ended up with such a selection. ;) And that way, you might only need to order a couple dozen pre-folds yourself. :) Even if people think you are crazy (I'm sure some thought that of me! lol), for some reason it seems like people really like buying cloth diapers for baby shower gifts! :)
I hope this helps! And to my cloth-diapering readers, I'd love it if you shared yout tips and suggestions for Brandi and Lynn! :)