I know what you’re thinking…cloth diapers, the big piece of material that has to be folded, pinned, dunked in the toilet and layered with a waterproof cover. Well, those are old news, there is an entire world of cloth diapering out there and it is amazing!
When we found out that we were expecting a baby, the first step was trying to cut corners and curb spending in any way we could, both before and after the baby arrived. One of the things we considered was cloth diapers. Steve thought it would be a good way to save money and I agreed. Of course, I also thought that it was a great way to avoid stuffing landfills with poop! After an extensive amount of research we went with a cloth diapering “system” called Fuzzi Bunz.
I think it is important to explain all of the different ways to cloth diaper and also review how it can indeed be Eco- nomical. I am not going to reinvent the wheel here- below is a chart from diaperjungle.com outlining the different types of cloth diapers (with pictures!).
The 4 Major Cloth Diaper Types – Prefolds, AIOs and AI2s, Pockets, & Fitteds
|Prefolds||AIOs/AI2s||Pocket Diapers||Fitted Diapers|
|Requires a wrap or a cover||Does not requires a wrap or a cover – this feature is built in.||Does not requires a wrap or a cover – this feature is built in.||Requires a wrap or a cover|
|May require a fastener such as pins or a snappi||Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop (velcro)||Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop (velcro)||Usually fastens with snaps or hook and loop (velcro), sometimes a snappi or pins may be used.|
|Usually made of cotton, gauze, Birdseye flannel, hemp, or velour.||Outer layer is waterproof…usually made with PUL, Procare, fleece, or wool.||Outer layer is waterproof…usually made with PUL, Procare, fleece, or wool.||Outer and inner layers are not waterproof and may consist of many different fabrics types.|
|A doubler will increase absorbency. A separate stuffer or doubler lays inside an AI2.||Requires and absorbent stuffer material to be placed in the pocket before use.||A doubler will increase absorbency.|
|Usually has elastic and legs and back area.||Usually has elastic and legs and back area.||Usually has elastic and legs and back area.|
|More Prefold Diaper Information||More AIO (All-in-One) Information||More Pocket Diaper Information||More Fitted Diaper Information|
Pre-folds or flats, are the first thing that people think of when they hear “cloth diapers.” They certainly require a lot of work; they have to be folded, pinned, covered, etc. There are “services” that clean the diapers for you, if you want to send them out and not have to worry about the hassle. This does cost money. As the chart states, these diapers require “rubber pants.” This is because the diapers can and will leak. Cotton can only hold so much liquid; have you ever cleaned up a spill with a cotton towel and watched the water drip from the towel as you clean it up…
My aunt used these diapers with my cousins, and I remember them, so I totally understand why people cringe when they think this is what I am going to be doing.
However, while they may be a lot of work, flats and prefolds are perfect for the minimalist who is environmentally conscience. Kudos, to those who choose this system as I assume while it is the most inexpensive of the cloth diapers but definitely requires the most amount of time and care.
All-in-One (AIO)/All-in-Two (AI2), seem really convenient because they function very similarly to disposable diapers. The waterproof layer and the absorbent layer are attached so nothing extra is needed. They do take longer to dry and might not keep as long as other diapers. Not to say they aren’t good quality but with everything attached it is more likely that they will become harder to clean.
All-in-Two diapers are similar to AIO but the inner “soaker” can be removed for better cleaning and faster drying.
If I am being honest, I knew very little about these until a few days ago. I am anxious to try both an AIO and AI2.
Fitted Diapers require a cover like pre-folds or flats but unlike pre-folds or flats they are shaped like a diaper with velcro or snaps for closure. These can be easier to clean than other cloth diapers.
Last but certainly not least are the Pocket Diapers. Pocket Diapers are fitted but instead of requiring a waterproof cover they have a material on the outside called PUL that prevents the diapers from leaking. They also have a pocket built in that can be stuffed with an absorbent insert (inserts can be made of many materials like hemp or fleece). Fuzzi Bunz is the pocket diaper we chose. These are more expensive than a flat diaper but they have a waterproof outer layer and the inside material wicks away the moisture from the skin which can help prevent diaper rash (although nothing is 100% effective). The downside is the stuffing of diaper, the upside is that there is no need for extra waterproof protection.
Now, living in an apartment with no washer and dryer keeping up with cloth diapers can be a challenge. We usually go to the laundromat once a week to do our laundry, but cloth diapers need to be washed every 2-3 days to avoid smell and staining issues. Also, babies go through a lot of diapers so unless you have A LOT of diapers you need to continually do wash. We have 25 diapers, and Lily goes through 7-10 diapers a day. Even if we wanted to we couldn’t go longer than 3 days given our supply.
We keep the dirty diapers in soft bag that zippers called the Kanga Care Wet Bag. It does a good job of keeping in the smell of dirty diapers but if there is a really bad poopy diaper, after a day the smell can make it through the bag. Everyone who cloth diapers has a different system some people but diapers in a lined can or pail with a lid; we didn’t have room for this method. For travel we have a Planet Wise Wet Bag to keep the dirty diapers. Both bags can be thrown in the wash with the diapers.
We have found that the diapers, if used properly do an excellent job of preventing leaks and are very absorbent. They have adjustable elastic so they will grow with Lily and we can have them for our next little one, if we take proper care of them (this is true of most of the cloth diapers).
Cost and Cost Effectiveness
So, the big question…is it really cheaper to use cloth diapers? If you look on the internet you will get all sorts of answers and break downs of spending on disposables vs cloth diapers. There is even a section in the, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet the book I mentioned in my previous post, about the cost of cloth diapering.
Consider these questions:
Do you have your own washer/dryer? If so, how much will your water and electric bills go up? I don’t have my own washer and dryer nor do I pay a water bill, so I didn’t have to worry about this cost going up.
Do you use a public washer and dryer? If so, how much will that cost if you are washing diapers 2-3 times a week? We have to use the coin operated machines located in our complex. This meant always making sure to have quarters around and finding the time to get to and from the machines with a baby…way easier said than done! We determined though that even using the coin operated machines it still saved us money.
What kind of detergent and how much will you use? Cloth diapers require detergents free of dyes, perfumes and certain chemicals because they can effect the absorbency and the overall quality of the diaper. So, you will likely have to buy a separate detergent. We use EcoSprout and have found it to be effective on the diapers. It cost about $20-ish and lasted us 2 months. After a few washes the diapers were getting clean but they started to smell a little so after asking around and doing some research I started to add Bio Kleen Oxygen Bleach Plus to the wash. It is environmentally friendly and cloth diaper friendly. It definitely helped. Recently, we started hand washing our diapers but that is for another post.
I should also add, that when we change her diaper we spray it with something called “Bac-Out” another Bio Kleen product. This helps to keep the soiled diaper from retaining smell or stains and I am confident that it has helped tremendously! (Washing and care of diapers will be another post)
Here are links for information about the cost break down of Cloth vs Disposable
You can decide for yourself whether it is enough of a savings to go for it. If you are thinking about transitioning to cloth from disposable, here is some information.
PS- We used disposables for the first few weeks with Lily before we realized we could adjust the elastic on the Fuzzi Bunz to fit her tiny little body. So she was transitioned at a few weeks old.
You can also find differing opinions about whether or not cloth diapering is really helping the environment or at least hurting it less. Some feel that doing laundry that much is wasting water and using a lot of electricity. But even if it uses a little more water, it keeps the dirty diapers from being thrown into landfills which, in MY opinion is worth using a little extra water. According to what I have read, it takes 250-500 years for diapers to decompose. Literally billions of SOILED diapers sit in landfills for HUNDREDS of years. Gross!
Some of the materials in diapers can become toxic as they decompose. Not to mention the fact that as they decompose the feces and urine can pollute our water system.
Read the articles below to find out more:
To save money and the environment you can also use cloth wipes. I have a few but I don’t use them exclusively. I will post about them another day.
In conclusion (because I am ending this post like a 5th grade essay), I am incredibly happy to have taken the cloth diapering route. It is definitely saving us money especially now that we are hand washing. I am also proud to not be contributing more than I already do to landfills and water pollution. The start-up cost might be expensive but it will pay off in the end when you aren’t buying diapers every week. We were lucky to receive our diapers as baby shower gifts (although I am already starting to purchase others to try) so the start-up didn’t cost anything. So, if you are thinking about cloth diapering, register for them!
There is a whole community of people out there cloth diapering. They even have their own Facebook pages for swapping and selling diapers, as well as chatting with other users for tips and tricks. On Etsy, you can find homemade cloth diapers for sale and they are cute! It is everywhere, and I hope this trend, which used to be the only option before disposables were released, continues to catch on.
DISCLAIMER: My intention is not to insult those who use disposable diapers. Babies (and toddlers) are a lot of work; I don’t judge those who have decided against cloth diapering because it is something that one must commit to and I understand not taking that plunge. But I do hope that one day they change their mind!
This is a link to a video about cloth diapering
In future posts I will discuss washing routines, cloth wipes and other cloth diaper topics.
Have a great day 🙂