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 had talked about having children since we first met, although the growing awareness of sustainability was something we had discovered together during the course of our relationship. Learning more about the environment, pollution, consumption and climate change also grew our concern for the future. What kind of world will our child be growing up in? We wanted a family, 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 path to sustainability. While I wasn’t really sure yet how to do this, I knew cloth diapers were somehow going to be a part of it.
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, and for many nights after learning I had a little one on the way, I kept myself awake with worry. Something undoubtedly common with all new moms! Added to the emotional mix of joy and worry was my own personality, which is often driven by a blend of curiosity and conviction. 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.
Over the months of my pregnancy, I did a deep dive research on cloth diapering to gather what information I could and learn the best way to proceed. 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, and after having learned so much, I wanted to share my discoveries, and possibly convince some of you out there that cloth diapering really is the way to go!
The First 6 Months With a Cloth Diaper
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 decay in landfills over the next thousand years), I simply toss it in the wash every morning, and after they’ve dried out, they’re ready to use again! It’s that easy! Simply make it part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, and the task becomes imperceptible.
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 is recommended to give them a wash within three days at the least. 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 making 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. So take advantage of their hard work!
I will list below the basic supplies I use and go into detail later.
Daily supplies used for the baby:
- 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.
- 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:
Now, for each supply in greater detail.
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 (which is basically the waterproof component that would go over an absorbent cloth) and using little absorbent cloths called booster (they are usually used to boost the main absorbent component like prefolds or inserts) as inserts. This way you only need to change the inserts every time the baby wets himself instead of changing the entire diaper.
After my little one outgrew the newborn AIO, I moved on to using the Pocket Diapers.
A Pocket Diaper as the name says it, has a pocket between the waterproof cover layer and the inner soft layer. An absorbent insert is placed inside the pocket and use it like an AIO or outside and change only the inserts.
Pocket diapers are faster to dry and very flexible on how you can use it; For both AOI and Pocket Diaper, you don’t need to learn special cloth folds and how to fasten with a pin.
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.
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 it to the wash. With AppleCheecks the insert removes itself in the wash from the pocket as opposed to with other pocket diaper brands. Eventually we stopped putting the inserts in the pocket and instead started placing them on top. This way I am using the pocket diaper like a cover diaper. A cover diaper is just the outer waterproof layer.
Another bonus of AppleCheecks brands are that they are made in Montreal, so for those living in Canada or U.S. this means less environmental foot print compared to the other brands that are made in China.
Inserts or Prefolds for the Cover or 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, which are basically rectangular cloth that can be used on its own with pins (like the old school grandma way) or fold it in three and put it inside a cover or pocket diaper. I like them because you can find them in many natural fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. and because it is also faster to dry.
I am using 3 different brands of inserts: Applecheeks Bamboo (2ply and 3ply), Bummis Organic Cotton, and APM Hemp & Cotton mix (2ply and 3ply). I bought them in that order. I started with AppleCheeks bamboo because I had bought AppleCheeks pocket diapers. They are 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 goes for about $8 while the Bummis only costs about $3 each. Then I got the APM hemp because I was told it was even more absorbent than the bamboo while maintaining its slimness. I like it also because baby feels less wet with hemp as opposed to the other two types. Price wise it is similar to the AppleCheeks bamboo inserts, so about $8.
Check this site for an absorbency comparison.
Cloth Wipes and Wipes Warmer
If you are using cloth diapers, you might as well use cloth wipes instead of the disposable wipes. There’s not much additional work since you are already doing the laundry for the cloth diapers, why not include the wipes? There’s 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, especially for your newborn baby if you’re living in a cold climate. Eventually we stopped using the wipes warmer because I started what some call “Infant Potty Training” or what is better represented by the name “Elimination Communication (EC)” which 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?. This means that I have been able to catch all my babies poos in the washroom, so I really don’t need 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 and it is according to this site.
For rashes, I use an organic zinc cream that my mom bought for me, I also checked for compatibility in the same site, and it is OK.
Diaper pail bin, pail liner, and portable wet bags
My research here went mainly into the diaper pail bin, the pail liners were chosen based on cuteness, but pail bin I based it on cloth diaper parents review. Dekor Plus Diaper Pail is the brand that had really good reviews. I was hoping it was going to be more robust and strong… it felt a bit cheap and I was afraid it will break easily, but so far it is working great!
I bough 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. The pic below is for Lite Wet Bag which I own.
And this is it…
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.
Hope 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!
Since this is my first blog entry ever, feedback is welcome! 😉
Please share in the comment section below or in the Sustainably Motivated Facebook page if you’re cloth diapering or planning to cloth diaper. If you’re already doing it, what’s your experience like? Any challenges or tips you would like to share?