If you are like me, you tried to save money in every way possible prepping for your little babes arrival. That lingering rumor it takes close to half a mill to raise a kid until they're an adult sounds a bit insane, but I have no doubt it's a hefty bill. That all being said there are crazy benefits to cloth diapering aside from the money you save. No more fabric pieces and pins to secure your baby from the gasly poops - cloth diapers have come a LONG way! They are almost quicker to secure than disposables AND they have the most adorable prints. Far cooler than those Elmo Sesame Street prints that our kids will never grow up to truly love.
Why did I go for cloth? Honestly, the two points that stood out to me (aside from the insane money you save), was first .. babies who wear cloth rarely go past the age of 2 still wearing disposables. Although cloth diapers are absorbent, your little one will still feel wet and have a greater drive to potty train. Secondly, diaper rashes are almost non existent.. it's so much better for your baby's buttox! I kid you not, I used disposables for the first month and found I was reaching for diaper rash cream like it was going out of style. Switched to cloth ... only one rash at 4.5 months which lasted less than two days! SOLD.
Is It For You?
Okay, I am going to be completely honest about the crappy parts of cloth -no pun intended. Cloth is gross, I mean you have to be okay to get a little dirty .. (don't worry, I have great tips below for making the process as little poo touching as possible), but it happens. You touch it, you have to put it in your nice new washing machines, you have to fold it up ... It's not an easy task. AND it is more work than disposables. If you hate laundry, this probably isn't for you. I on the other hand enjoyed laundry out of all chores .. but even so, cloth has added a few hours into my week for laundry + stuffing. But if money is a bit tight and you are all about "au naturale" then definitely consider cloth... there are no added scents or chemicals - just fabric + snaps! Last thing - Is your partner on board with cloth? Sam was a little grossed out about the poo being a part of our wash routine, but he agreed to change him if I agreed to wash the diapers. It is a big commitment for both parents (and anyone taking care of the little one), so make sure they are game.
PROS : LITTLE TO NO BLOW OUTS + DIAPER RASHES, SAVE LOTS OF MONEY, ADORABLE PRINTS, QUICKER TO POTTY TRAIN, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
CONS : MORE LAUNDRY + PREPWORK, DEALING WITH SMELLY POOP, TRAVELING WITH CLOTH IS MORE WORK.
Brand + Style
When I was first jumping on board with cloth diapering, I was up to my ears in research. What is the best brand, what style of diapers (AIO's, AI2's, Pockets, Covers).. then don't even get me started about insert options. Seriously, OVERWHELMING!!! All I wanted to know was what brand won't break the bank and is durable (can you have both?!) and which style will suit my needs. I think I pinned over 30 sites recommending this brand and that brand .. but I found a common trend among the mom forums and blog sites - ALVA BABY. Alva Baby is a cloth diapering company from China that is both cheap and durable. Most cloth diapers sell in the range of $20-$30 per diaper. Alva Baby's cost? $5 - $7!!! DID YOU HEAR ME?!?! FIVE TO SEVEN CANADIAN DOLLARS. No joke. I was a bit skeptical until I read the reviews HERE , HERE , AND HERE. The hesitation is that it is not local .. the website + customer service is from China, so sometimes the language barrier can be tricky. Personally, I never encountered an issue and was pleased with the purchasing process.
Style of diaper I chose? Pocket Diapers. They require a bit more work to stuff compared to the All In One's (AIO's), but you have more flexibility with what inserts you use. Basically there is a slit in the back of the diaper to put an insert inside for absorbency which you 'stuff' beforehand, and then it looks like every other diaper when you put it on and take off. I like having the option to choose what insert is best for my guy and can switch it up for nights when he needs a thicker insert on his long stretch of sleep.
I have tried out a few inserts : charcoal, bamboo, cotton, and the standard Micro Fiber inserts. So far, I am digging the 5 layer charcoal. You will find plenty of blogs breaking down the pros and cons of each. Basically MF inserts are the cheapest but least absorbent. You also can't put MF inserts directly on their skin versus bamboo, cotton, or hemp. It's worth investing in good inserts so that you aren't constantly changing his clothes because he soaked through his diaper (which happened to me wayy too many times with MF). An affordable option for heavy wetters is purchasing Flour Sack Towels (FST's) which are found in the kitchen area of Walmart, Superstore, or you can also purchase these great ones on Amazon HERE. Feel free to put the inserts in the dryer - it doesn't reduce the longevity.
Stuffing + Storing
Another con people find to pocket diapers is the stuffing. IT TAKES TIME. If I were to stuff 30 of my diapers, it would take about 45 - 60 minutes. Which might not be a whole lot of time, except when you are putting that time aside every 3 days. Just thankful for Netflix, because I pop on a show and stuff away. It is pretty simple to stuff and I will just leave the adjusting clips in place so it's easier to put on baby S when I'm changing. The clean cloth diapers I will store in our drawers under the change pad for quick access.
Dirty diapers - THEY SMELL. Obviously. So I bought a big (used) diaper pail off Varage Sale that has a refresher scent insert to keep the stink away - works wonders. Then I purchased a few diaper liners that you can wash with the diapers every week that will store all the dirty diapers. It's really not THAT bad.
Okay, this will make or break you. It seems like the main reason people quit cloth is because of their wash routine. Their baby develops yeast infections, rashes, or the diapers just smell plain nasty, and they can't find a solution. It's frustrating, I can imagine. In the first month I struggled with my diapers coming out stained and a bit of a mildew smell which made me question whether they were clean for his little bum. Then I looked up online to only be flooded by words I never understood such as Line 1, Line 2, Hardwater Testing, Stripping...
It was definitely a trial and error for my washes, but finally I found a routine that made my diapers come out clean (STAIN FREE from that horrid orange BF poop) and there was no mildew smell. This is what I did:
1. PreRinse Cycle (20 minutes with no detergent) 2. Normal Cycle on Hot with an extra prewash. I use Tide Liquid Detergent (Approx. 50 minutes). Then to save energy costs AND for your diapers to last longer, 3. I hang dry the inserts and diaper covers. It takes about 2 hours for the covers to dry and 4-5 hours for the inserts to dry which is why I do the load at night and stuff them in the morning. If there are any diapers that still have stains, I will put them out in the sun for a few hours!
One last tip for washing your diapers, USE DISPOSABLE GLOVES! I bought a box of medical gloves and throw them out everytime I open the pail, take out the dirty insert from the diaper, and toss it all into the washing machine. Keep in mind that I am currently JUST dealing with a breast fed babe, meaning I don't have to wash the poop fully out before putting in the wash because it is 100% dissoluble. Once Baby S hits solids in a few weeks, I will be whipping out our diaper sprayer and using that before tossing it in the wash.
Travelling With Cloth
Everyone warned me about traveling with cloth and how much work it would be and you know what? It ain't so bad! Okay, yes, depending on how long you are gone and where you are going helps you decide whether you take disposables or not. BUT you can totally make it work! For us, if we are gone travelling for 2-3 days then we would probably use cloth. Anything beyond that we will use disposables. Why? We don't want to deal with added laundry on our Vaca. Plus, if you are staying with family or friends, they will probably not be comfortable if you are putting your dirty diapers in their machines - makes sense! When we are travelling for a short period, we simply load up on the stuffed diapers and just bring our diaper pail liner + a small travel size wet bag for storing the dirty diaper. This is just what we do, but if you are okay with the added cleaning task and can visit a laundry mat - go for it sister!
I am digging cloth BUT I will have to let you know if I do a complete 360 when the solids come through and I have to start spraying the diapers. They will no longer smell like sweet pineapple poo and more like a dead animal ... SOOO my views might change! But I think it's worth trying especially the money you save. Used cloth diapers sell really well too, so you do get money back on top of already saving. Something to think about :) If you have questions, ask them below and I'll answer in between poopy diaper changes!
Also... this babe has no problem moving around comfortably with a fluffy butt .. so far, he is a fan!