My husband and I try to practice a sustainable lifestyle as best we can, and we had often discussed what steps we could take and what we would do if ever we had children. In fact, we talked about having children together since we first met! The growing awareness of sustainability on the other hand, was something we discovered together.
The more we learnt about what was going on with the environment, pollution, consumption and climate change, the more our concerns also grew. What kind of world would our children grow up in?
We definitely wanted a family, that much was clear. But we also wanted to help reduce our burden on the environment. So when I found out I was pregnant, it suddenly moved all these worries into high gear. I wanted to give what was best for my baby, but still continue on our sustainability path. While I wasn’t really sure yet how to do this, I knew cloth diapers were somehow going to be a part of it.
So Many Feelings!
Discovering that you’re pregnant is certainly a game changer! I had so many questions and mixed emotions. Incredible highs clashed with anxious lows as I contemplated what was best for baby and me. At night, I’d keep myself awake with worry, thinking about the little one I had on the way.
I’m sure that’s something undoubtedly common with all new moms! In addition to the emotional mix of joy and worry there was my own collection personality quirks. These are often driven by a blend of curiosity and conviction. Well, this combination of motivation and worry certainly made for an exhilarating ride!
Before The Baby Was Even Born
It’s within my nature that I want to know everything I can before undertaking a given project (I’m a project manager btw), and this was certainly a big one. Aside from the obvious apprehension over painful laboring, which pretty much everyone I met was already telling me about in excruciating detail, baby diapering became one of my biggest concerns.
This diaper worry was initially bigger than how I was going to deal with all the other day-to-day baby issues, as I believed that all the rest would come instinctively. I naturally presumed that I was going to do whatever mothers have been doing for millions of years, so why worry?! Ultimately, things didn’t quite work out that way, but that’s another story.
All Kinds of Research
Over the months of my pregnancy, I did a deep dive research on a number of baby related topics (see The Baby Knowledge Starter Kit). There certainly was an excessive amount of information to filter through and digest!
But my husband and I were motivated. We took the time to learn what we could about cloth diapering and the best way to proceed. Cloth diapering became my own personal mission, and there was a lot I wanted to know. The obvious questions included: What is it exactly?
When did we start trying it this way and how? What can history teach us? How does it work in modern society? What types and brands are out there? How is it applied? What does the wash routine look like? (and the blatant big one) How to deal with the poop? It was quite an informational journey!
After having learned so much, I wanted to share my discoveries. And hopefully convince some of you out there that opting tp go for the cloth diaper approach really was way to go!
Establishing Your Routine
I don’t think most of you are interested in the deep dive research, so I will spare you the details and simply explain what I’m doing now.
Cloth diapering is great! It works just like disposables, but instead of throwing out more petroleum products to contaminate our precious planet (as they slowly decayed in landfills over the next thousand years). I simply toss them in the wash in the morning, and after they’ve dried out, they’re ready to use again! It’s that easy! Simply try making it a part of your routine. Like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, the task becomes imperceptible with habit.
What?! Did I say wash everyday and now you’re like “no, no, no”? No worries, you don’t have to do it everyday if you don’t want to. Although it’s recommended that you give them a wash within at least three days. Heads up though, if you do choose the less frequent wash routine, you will need to have a bigger supply of cloth diapers.
I like the everyday routine because I can just switch the habit to autopilot without having to think, “Should I start a load now? Do we have enough diapers?” I just wake up, wear my baby with a carrier (ring sling), brush my teeth, throw dirty diapers in the laundry, and eat my breakfast. It’s a no brainer! Easier than cake.😍 🍰
What About the Poo?
If you are really concerned about the poo, there’s no need to stress for the first 6 months, or up until the little ones’ start solids. Particularly if the baby is solely breastfed. Breastfed babies’ poo are water-soluble and come out easily in the wash.
If you find any persistent stain on the diaper, just hang it out in the sun for awhile and the UV rays will naturally bleach them. There are blogs out there that discuss in greater detail about dealing with the poo at different stages of baby’s development, and I’d encourage you to check them out if you’re interested (here’s one).
Now to the supplies! The items I chose have been thoroughly researched (by me) through mommy blogs, parental magazines, YouTube videos, Pinterest, and copious amounts of conversations with cloth-diapering parents. There’s a whole community of cloth diaper parents out there! So take advantage of their combined experience 😉
I will list below the basic supplies I use and go into detail later.
What I Used Daily:
- Cloth diapers: This includes 4-6 diaper covers,* and at least a dozen inserts (you’ll use less over time).
- Cloth wipes: Prep for at least 30/ day.
- A cloth wipe warmer (at least for the Newborn phase).
- Cloth-safe diaper cream (keep it petroleum-free; we use coconut oil or cream containing Zinc Oxide).
*I use what is refereed to as “pocket diapers” (when the insert can be placed within the diaper liner), but they’re pretty much diaper covers, so I use the name interchangeably.
This is what my changing station looks like:
Supplies used for the dirty diapers:
- 1 diaper pail bin or just any bin, even a garbage bin
- 2 large pail liners (one will be washing while the other one is in use)
- 2 portable wet bags (for on the go I use one wet bag to put the clean diapers and another one to put the dirty ones) or just a ziplock bag.
Here you can see my diaper pail bin. The diaper pail liner is inside the bin so obviously you cannot see it:
Cloth Diapers: Into the Details
My criteria for cloth diaper was: ease of use and wash so that even my then skeptic husband (who today is really loving it) and/or other family members could easily change the baby’s diaper.
There are so many types, shapes, colors, and brands out there which I will not go through but check out this video which explains thoroughly what’s out there.
I tried two types of cloth diapers: an All-In-One (AIO), and a Pocket Diaper with Inserts or Prefolds.
AIO is the closest to a disposable since the outer waterproof cover layer and the inner absorption layer are all sewn into one component, therefore after one use throw it in the laundry bin. Unfortunately it takes too long to dry and its annoying that after a tiny newborn pee or smear of poo I need to throw the whole thing in the wash;
After using the AOI cloth diapers for about a week with my newborn, I started using the BumGenius like a cover diaper. The cover provides the waterproof component which holds the absorbent cloth. The little absorbent cloths are called boosters.
They’re usually used to increase (boost) the main existing absorbent component. Since baby’s pee was so small at first, I basically used these boosters like you would normal inserts. This way, I only needed to change the insert when baby wet himself, instead of having to change the entire diaper every time.
After my little one outgrew the newborn AIO, I moved on to using the Pocket Diapers.
As the name indicates, a Pocket Diaper has a pocket between the waterproof cover layer and the inner soft layer. There’s an absorbent insert that you place inside the pocket, using it like an AIO. Or you can just place it on the outside and change only the inserts.
Opting For Convenience
Pocket diapers are faster to dry and very flexible on how you can use it. For both the AOI and Pocket Diaper, you don’t need to learn any special folds. Also, they fasten easily with snap-on buttons.
I tried 3 brands of regular (not newborn) pocket diapers also rated in the top 5 of many moms on YouTube (Check out one of the videos here): AppleCheeks Size1, BumGenius One-Size, and FuzziBunz One-Size.
Taking Care of Business
From the beginning, my husband preferred the AppleCheeks because there was no need to adjust the height of the diaper and no need to remove the insert from the pocket when throwing them in the wash. With AppleCheeks, the insert removes itself in the wash from the pocket, as opposed to with other pocket diaper brands.
Eventually, we stopped putting the inserts into the pocket, opting instead to simply place them on top. By doing it this way, we essentially used the pocket diaper as a diaper cover.
Another bonus of AppleCheeks brand is that they’re made here in Montreal. So for those of you living in the US & Canada, this means less of an environmental footprint compared with other brands that are made in China.
Inserts or Prefolds for the Cover / Pocket Diapers
As per the absorbent component or inner insert, there are many types and brands as well. I like to use the prefolds inserts. They’re basically rectangular cloths that can be used on their own with pins (like the old-school grandma way), or fold it in three and put it inside a cover or pocket diaper. They’re pretty great because you can find them in a bunch of natural fabrics, like organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. They also dry faster.
I’m currently using 3 different brands of inserts: AppleCheeks Bamboo (2ply and 3ply), Bummis Organic Cotton, and APM Hemp & Cotton mix (2ply and 3ply). I actually bought them in that order. We started with AppleCheeks bamboo because I had purchased the AppleCheeks pocket diapers. They’re absorbent, and super smooth. I really like the 2ply because of their slimness (relative to the other inserts).
Then I bought the Bummis prefold because I needed more inserts and I was on a budget. AppleCheeks inserts go for about $8, while Bummis only cost about $3 each. Next I picked up the APM hemp ones. I wanted to try them out, as I was told they’d be even more absorbent than the bamboo – while maintaining their slimness. I also like them because the baby feels less wet with the hemp ones, as opposed to the other two types. Price-wise it’s similar to the AppleCheeks bamboo inserts, so also about $8.
Check this site for an absorbency comparison.
Cloth Wipes & Wipes Warmer
If you’re using cloth diapers, you might as well use cloth wipes instead of the disposable wipes. There’s not much additional work since you’re already doing the laundry for the cloth diapers, why not include the wipes?
There are also options in different fabrics, colors, and shapes. I picked fleece cotton wipes made by a mom on Etsy. They are so cute with different patterns. I own 90 wipes, and its just the right quantity since I have these wipes all over the house.
The wipes warmer is really good to keep your wipes – you guessed it – wet and warm. This is especially key for your newborn if you’re living in a cold climate (❤️️🍁). We since stopped using the wipes warmer however. That’s because I started with something called “Infant Potty Training.” It’s also known as “Elimination Communication” (EC).
EC is basically listening to the baby’s cues/communication of the need to eliminate his waste. Something I learned is that babies don’t like to dirty themselves, pretty cool huh? That means that I’ve actually been able to catch all my babies poos in the washroom!😮 So I really haven’t been using wet wipes anymore. I just clean baby’s bum in the sink and then dry it with a cloth wipe.
Cloth-Safe Diaper Cream
I honestly did not look too deep into creams since I was OK just using coconut oil. The only thing I did was to check if it was cloth diaper friendly. According to this site, it is!👌
For rashes, I use an organic zinc cream that my mom bought for me. I also checked for diaper compatibility in the same site, and it’s OK.
Diaper Pail Bin, Pail Liner, & Portable Wet Bags
My research here went mainly into the diaper pail (bin). While I chose the pail liners based on cuteness, I selected the diaper pail itself based on reviews from other cloth diapering parents. Dekor Plus Diaper Pail had really good reviews. I was hoping it was going to be more robust and strong. Rather, it felt a bit cheap. As a result, I was afraid it would break easily. But so far, it’s working great!
Holding It All In
I bought the diaper pail liners from the brand Planet Wise. This brand has a collection of cute patterns and they fit perfectly on the above Dekor Plus Diaper Pail. Once full, you can throw the entire bag in the wash.
For traveling, Planet Wise also has smaller wet/dry bags with very cute prints. I use the Lite Wet Bag (dog-print bag on the right) as my cloth diaper go-bag.
And that’s a wrap…
So this is it for my experience cloth diapering for 6 months so far and counting. I haven’t had much dealing with solid poos so I can’t say much about it. Read other blogs or watch YouTube videos to learn about it and more.
I hope that I was able to provide enough information to give you the confidence to start using cloth diapers with ease. Wish you an awesome cloth diaper journey!
You’re more than welcome to reach out to me through the comment section below. Are you using cloth diapers for your little one, or planning to? If you’re already doing it, what’s your experience like? Any challenges or tips you would like to share?
For other baby-related info you can explore the Lifestyle section of this site, or come visit my next post,