When people find out about many of the "green" things our family has implemented in our lives, none drew the "I could NEVER do that..." comment as much as cloth diapering. And since I am a bit sassy, I usually countered with the question: Why not? The reasons are many and many are legitimate. However, many are based on misinformation (or a lack of information.) I am sharing what worked for us and share some secrets that may help you if you desire to start the cloth diapering journey. (For information on WHY you should consider using cloth diapers, check out 3 Great Reasons to consider Cloth Diapers from Simple Organic.)
At the time my son was born, I worked a job with swing shifts, 24/7 on-call requirements and a husband that was about to deploy to a war zone. My son attended a state licensed day care center and cloth diapering wasn't allowed without medical approval. I also knew not one other person in real life that used cloth diapers (with the exception of my dad and he could only tell me horror stories about actually pinning the cloth diaper to my baby sister.) I would say that due to my schedule, legal requirements and a lack of resources, I was NOT the poster child to start cloth diapering. However, since it was all I had seen growing up and was seeing the growing online resource base, I felt that this was a move I wanted to make. Here are my secrets (or not so secret) that helped our cloth diapering journey work for us:
My son rockin' a space-themed prefold during the one and only month he ever had any chub on him...
Know your options: First and foremost, the plain rectangular cloth diaper and pins are not how cloth diapering is rolling these days. Now, as I learned and became more confident, I eventually used the rectangle kind (called a prefold and pictured embellished with designer fabric above) but I never used a pin (the Snappi is the modern tool of choice!) There are a million and one companies making modern cloth diapers that look and function like a normal disposable but I would recommend bumGenius or FuzziBunz. Yes, they are the more commercialized of the options, but that makes them easier to find, in my opinion. I never thought I would see the day where I walked into a Target and see cloth diapers on the shelf but bumGenius made that happen in some stores. (While I am typically anti-mainstream, I am prone to completely support when beloved things like cloth diapers and babywearing are going mainstream because I feel like it helps put resources in the hands on those that may not normal seek it out on their own.) My skinny hips and thighs little man still fits into the medium FuzziBunz we bought when he was 3 months old and has fit into the bumGenius (which are one-size-fits all due to adjustable snaps) his ENTIRE life so far. I recommend this article from Simple Mom on 4 Cloth Diapering Options Defined to understand what options are out there.
Matching outfit to go with the above space-themed prefold (um...if super cute handmade outfits weren't one of my top 5 reasons to cloth diaper, they sure were a good bonus!)
Know thyself: Knowing my time restraints, I utilized a no-nonsence approach to using the diapers. In my son's bedroom, the diapers were kept in baskets under the changing table. Next to the changing table was a large plastic garbage pail with a large water proof bag called a wetbag inside. All diapers came off the kiddo and straight into the pail, which did NOT have a lid. I never sprayed, dumped or dipped anything off the diapers. People often tell me that they could never cloth diaper because the thought of dealing with the poop grosses them out. So, I say, don't play with the poop! What about the smell, you ask? The open pail allowed smells to dissapate and, in my experience, weren't really an issue. I took a cloth wipe and put some tea tree esssential oil on it and dropped it in the pail and sprinkled baking soda in if I smelled any urine and I wasn't ready to do laundry. I did laundry, on average, twice a week. I simply dumped the dirty diapers out of the wet bag into the washer, put in the wet bag and washed. I used a squirt of blue Dawn, about a cup of baking soda and white vinegar in the fabric softener dish, washed on as hot a wash I could and did an extra rinse every other time I washed. I had a HE washer and never had any problems. If you do get a stain, putting the still partially wet diaper outside in the sun to dry will clear up the issue in one afternoon. That is it- no magical time consuming potion, no expensive cleaning formula and no extra steps. (There are some great looking washing products out there and I might try them out if I ever have a baby in diapers again but it is hard to beat the ease and inexpensive of this method!)
(Small time out to say: If you do any reading around cloth diapering websites (like Diaperswappers), many people will toot the horn of how wonderful breast-fed poo is, how it is water soluable and doesn't stain. Let me go on the record: poop is poop and I can say with certainty, formula poop is water soluable and doesn't stain if you use the proper cleaning procedure. (And for the sake of over-explaining: I had a double mastectomy prior to having my son, so he was fed formula from the very beginning...) That said, no matter what you feed your kiddo, not playing with poop is an option, if you want to.)
Know those around you: Worried about how daycare will react? What about the husband? Or your family? I did have to get my pediatrician to write a note to our daycare for it to be "legal" for us to cloth diaper my son there. And for their sake and my husbands, they got the easiest diapers to use. (It is hard for them to argue with them being more difficult if they are shaped exactly like a disposable, utilize velcro and don't require any dumping of poop!) I utilized smaller wetbags while out in public and often brought along my cutest diapers to show off when I had the chance. (And if you don't know what cute cloth diapering options are out there, stay tune to tomorrow's Etsy Friday Finds!) People have less opportunity to criticized or be bothered by something when you show them how easy something is and how not-so-out-of-the-ordinary it is. (And to be honest, I personally ENJOYED being the crazy person doing something different, but that is my personality, I know that flying your freak flag wigs some people out.)
Are you considering cloth diapering? Already a lover of all things fluff? What are your tips and tools that help YOU? Share your information (or ask questions!)