Jul 29 2009

Impressions of our cloth diapers

Johnny has been in cloth diapers for a little over a month. It isn’t much time at all, but I figured I’d give my initial impressions of the kind we have for him, and my general thoughts of cloth diapering so far.

It’s important to point out that what works for us now at this moment in his 7-month life will not necessarily work for him in a few months or for other children. With disposables, Luvs size 1 worked horribly for us. Size 3s worked ok. Why? Beats me. I won’t be surprised if the system that works for us now will change as he becomes mobile and as his potty patterns change.

I wanted to sample a selection of cloth diapers before buying multiples of any particular type.  I can appreciate the pros and cons of each diapering type I tried, and can file that knowledge away for the future. The negatives are I have some diapers that don’t work for us, and I’ll need to get rid of them.

I did not like the first week of cloth diapering. It was a bit to learn, and since I only had a few diapers to use, we were doing lots of laundry. I didn’t have a diaper pail. I didn’t have a diaper sprayer or liners. I was grossed out and I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Once I bought a hanging diaper pail (fits over the doorknob of our bathroom), the liners and a sprayer, I got some order into the diapering routine.

Some moms gush about how much the looove cloth diapers. I am not one of those moms. I like them better than disposables, but I don’t love ’em. They’re just diapers. I’ll be glad when he’s out of them.

What I like:

  • Much cheaper than disposables for us. I don’t seem to have the time to bargain-hunt those diaper deals anymore. Seems like diaper prices are always on the rise and package sizes always shrinking. All told, I paid $384 for our diapers and accessories. These should last until he’s potty-trained, and if they work for future children, all the better. Our water bill is included in our rent, and we have a high-efficiency washer. I haven’t noticed an increase in our electric bill, but it’s too soon to tell.
  • We really do have fewer leaks and blowouts with cloth. Disposables leaked and eeked all the time for us. We had one disastrous disposable explode in his car seat. I honestly think cloth would have contained it better.
  • We aren’t making a ton of trash anymore.
  • We’re trying elimination communication, and cloth helps me know when he’s wet. Probably helps him understand, too.

I don’t like:

  • I don’t like the poopy diapers. Who does? Diaper liners help tremendously, but I do have to use the diaper sprayer at times, and it doesn’t always help. We’re in the disgusting sticky-poop phase. Gag. I once put an extremely soiled diaper in the rinse-only cycle of my washing machine. The diaper sprayer did nothing on it. The washer rinsed it all out and I’m thankful it worked!
  • Let’s be real here. Cloth diapering is a little more work than disposables. Sure, it takes all of one minute to load the washing machine and set the cycle, and maybe 5-10 minutes to fold, stuff and put away diapers for next time. It also is a little more work after changing the dipe — you might have to rinse it. Still, it isn’t that much work, and for the amount of money we’re saving, I’ll do it.

Our system consists of prefolds (cheap-o kind and Indian cotton), Thirsties Duos (5), Thirsties size M (1), some Dappi nylon pants (2 each in size S and M), a Dancing Bears fleece cover, Smartipants pockets (3), Fuzzibunz pockets (1), BumGenius pockets (2) and Green Acres Designs semi-fitted pockets (3).


For nighttime, we use a semi-fitted pocket diaper that I stuff with a thin (cheapie) prefold, a microfiber towel, and a hemp or cotton doubler. I cover it with the fleece cover, the sized Thirsties, or the Dappi. It’s the only combo that’s worked — pocket diapers by themselves, no matter how I stuff ’em, won’t hold up. It’s a huge diaper, but whaddya do.

[We also have some Happy Heinys in size medium, but they don’t fit Johnny well and I’d like to sell them. Let me know if you’re interested.]

Accessories include a hanging diaper bag, diaper sprayer, disposable liners, some doublers, two Snappis, tea tree oil, and Country Save laundry detergent*. We use baby washcloths as wipes. I already had tons of these and didn’t need to buy more.

The laundry detergent was a great deal on Amazon and we use it for all of our laundry. Through July 31, save 10 percent by using this coupon code: GRNHH7O9 . Also, you get free shipping. Free shipping for 40 pounds of laundry detergent. Wow!

Use your Swagbucks* gift cards to save even more. Just sayin’.

If you’re new to cloth and don’t like it, pinpoint the reason and see if you can come up with a solution. I couldn’t stand the mega-poopy diapers, so I got some disposable liners to use when I suspect a BM is imminent (Sidetrack: Johnny pooped in the toilet today. Pooped! I’m really loving elimination communication!!).

If you’re having bad leaks, strip the diapers, change the baby more often, add some doublers, or try a different style of diaper.

Also, if you’re icked out by coming in contact with poop or pee, just remember that you’ll be dealing with it on a disposable anyway. And on the baby’s clothes, if it leaks.

I’m glad we switched to cloth. I do think it will save us a lot of money.

* Referral link

19 Responses to “Impressions of our cloth diapers”

  1. Thankns for your comment on my blog. I always go see the blogs when a commenter has one and I really like yours. Want to trade a follow?
    Anyway, I have used cloth since my 1st daughter was born 5 years ago and I am still using them on my 2 yr old. When you can use them on more than one child – wow – that has got to be the best money saving aspect of cloth diapering.
    Having a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet helped immensely with the poopy diapers too. And then I found even if it didn’t all come off it would in the washer.
    Great post!

  2. My best advice for the sticky poop…bananas. They cause those beautiful (wow, everything’s relative) fall off the dipe in one solid chunk poops. Do NOT do this if your baby gets constipation, or isn’t pooping daily. Otherwise, feed him like he’s a monkey!

    Congrats on making the switch.

  3. Hahaha, “beautiful” poop. And yet, I understand.

    He has been going a few days between bowel movements, so maybe I ought to wait until he’s more regular for more bananas.

  4. Great post! Can you explain, logistically, how is EC, what worked for you, etc.? Thanks!

  5. What a solid review of cloth diapers for me to use when I finally have kids lol…

  6. Yeah sure!

    I noticed that Johnny seemed to pee right when he first woke up. Don’t we all? If I was too quick to change his diaper, he’d pee. Instead of getting peed on or just waiting a few extra minutes, I decided to have him squat over the toilet seat to see if he’d go in there. He did! Next time, as soon as I held him over, I made a loud, “Psssss!” sound.

    The goal is to help associate the sound with the act of peeing, so he can know it’s ok to go.

    I now hold him over the potty at each diaper change first (his feet are resting on the front edge. We need to get a baby-sized potty insert but haven’t yet). Sometimes he goes, sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t hold him over the seat for too long.

    I’m trying to watch for any signals he might have outside of normal diaper changes to show that he needs to go. If he’s suddenly very fussy and I know he’s been recently fed/napped, then I run him to the potty in case that’s the cause. Sometimes it is!

    I’m doing EC because if I can keep my baby a little more comfortable, he’ll probably be happier. It also creates a little bit less diaper laundry which is nice. Also, if it leads to early potty independence…cool!

  7. Hello! Props to you for sticking with it! I thought this post was spot-on. I have used cloth on all 3 kids, andI’ve had at least one at a time in cloth for the last 5 years. So I hope my experience is helpful to someone. Here’s what I would tell you:

    #1 Don’t worry so much about rinsing the diapers before you put them in the washer. What I have found is that as long as you knock the big chunks off in the toilet with some toilet paper or a liner (sorry if that’s gross), you can probably get by w/out rinsing, and just run a rinse cycle before you wash the diapers. Let the machine do the nasty work. Also, dry, poopy diapers don’t stink nearly as bad as wet, poopy diapers. If your baby is only only breastmilk (I know yours is older, but for other moms) you don’t even have to rinse or get the big pieces off or anything.

    #2 Call me a wimp if you want to, but my kids sleep in disposables (except for one year that we were super broke and had no choice). So much easier to change in the middle of the night, if your baby is still getting up. And as you pointed out, it is hard to get a diaper thick enough to absorb all night. I also buy disposales for travel and for being out of the house longer than a couple of hours. 1 pack of disposables last a long time at our house, and I still have probably saved $1000’s on all three kids.

    #3 You are right. They are just diapers. They are such a small part of having babies. And everything gets easier with practice. You are doing great.

  8. I loved elimination communication. It wasn’t some miracle where our daughter was potty trained at a year. She really was normal and wasn’t fully potty trained until a little over two years, but it is true that after about 13 months I never had to change another poop diaper. Somehow we all figured out when it was going to happen and she started saving her poops for the toilet! That was the best. For that reason alone I will be doing it again with my third child.

  9. Hmmm…I’m still not convinced. I’m glad it’s working out for you, but I don’t care how much money it saves, I won’t be using cloth. I’ve already started buying diapers in varying sizes (and different brands) using coupons. If I can’t keep it up after the little guy is born then we’ll buy at Costco.

    I’ve never heard of EC. Perhaps you could write a more detailed post about it one of these days. It’s not something specific to cloth diapers right?

  10. Awesome! I love your picture of all the diapers.

    So… about the bananas and poop… ripe bananas make you go, but unripe constipate you. Just FYI.

    I love how this post features so much poop! :) lol

  11. We used cloth diapers and training pants, didn’t want to use disposables for several reasons.

    We didn’t have poopy diapers because we were most fortunate that our son’s body language and timing helped us know when he had to poo.

    We used infant potty training (same thing as EC) with our third son, thoroughly enjoyed it and liked it much more than traditional toilet training. We were thrilled to start and finish earlier than we had with our first two.

    Here are some links for more info:

    Potty Whisperer short and sweet overview

    Infant Potty Training Fundamentals, translated into many languages

    “Infant Potty Training” book and “Potty Whispering” DVD

  12. Hi Kacie,
    Combining cloth diapering with Elimination Communication is a great way to help the switch to cloth as your washing load gradually, or perhaps sporadically, is smaller – less poop to manage is the best bit (apart from the bonding part of course!)

    It was from an article of Laurie’s (above) that I first learnt of infant potty training / elimination communication. How that article changed my life!

    It is always thrilling to catch a wee or poo in a potty / laundry tub or bucket. We are doing it for the second time now, and I enjoy the thrill just as much still!


    P.S have you seen my new resources at Part Time Diaper Free? So excited to have over 700 people taking my guided tour of Baby Pottying now…

  13. I love cloth diapering. I have 19 mo. old twins and have never bought ‘sposies (i know I am showing off LOL!)

    I am not grossed out by pooh too much, BUT I don’t use a sprayer. That sounds gross to me, but I have no experience with it so I don’t know. I do something my dh thinks is disgusting, but totally works for me. I use an old membership card (like a credit card but with no numbers on it for poop to get stuck in) and scrape the pooh into the toilet. Of course for mamas just starting out, there is no need to scrape or spray breastfed baby pooh- it just washes right out.

    Hope you continue to like it! Saves so much money and I can just imagine how much more comfy it is to have cotton on your bum than paper.

  14. I am like you. I use cloth diapers, but I would say I LOOOVEE them. I still use disposables when we are going out for a long period of time (I’m on my 2nd baby with cloth) unless I’m going over to someone’s house, then I will usually still use cloth.

    But, I have to say about the sprayer. We would not have survived but for the sprayer. We eat very healthy and very fibrous, therefore producing some very sticky, mushy poos. Not fun to deal with at all! We have entered that phase once again with our almost 1 yr old. Still not fun.

    But, I feel better using cloth. Our faves are fuzzi bunz. We’ve tried a TON of brands and it’s still our fave. Bum Genius and Green Acres Design are 2nd. Green Acres Design (GADs) polar fleece are FANTASTIC for nap/nighttime diapers in case your son starts leaking. Our oldest was a super soaker and these worked great at naptime. Nothing worked overnight except disposables. You do what you gotta do. Sleep was more important.

    Anyway, good for you for doing it. I actually did a post for The Happy Housewife on cloth diapers a few months ago. A Cloth Diapering 101 post.

  15. I love it.

    The post, not the diapering ;) I prefer to use cloth for the reasons you stated. But now baby #2 who can’t deal with PUL covers (so it’s wool only over only cotton diapers) is in seventh generation sposies about half the time. And baby #1 was put into sposies upon #2’s arrival ;)

  16. Oh, also, about rinsing I took the stance of:
    If it’s not plopable (into the potty) it’s washable. I never dunked or rinsed ~shrug~

  17. We are a full on Fuzzi bunz house, and I loved your post. My friends all think we’re nuts, but I feel better about using cloth for similar reasons. Here’s my post. http://blog.thedailyfuss.com/2009/08/diaper-duty-doodie.html

    It’s not as in depth as yours regarding the experience, but I do talk about the environmental impact a bit. Let me know your take on that part of the diaper debate.


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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