Friday, July 15, 2011

Diapers!!! FINALLY

It is amazingly difficult to coordinate 1.  Most of the diapers being clean 2.  Having time 3.  Getting around to doing this post.  But nonetheless, here it is!  The post I wished I could've read  before I had to spend hours online figuring this all out for myself.  :) I HOPE this helps you new mamas, or new to cloth diapering mamas. 

BRIEFING:  Okay.  1.  A diaper is cloth.  Any cloth.  The pee won't run out, they are absorbent and will feel wet when the baby is wearing a dirty one.  Encourages potty training!!!!  2.  You need a cover.  Because the cloth gets wet, you need a cover to keep the carpet, carseat, couch dry and smelling fresh.  3.  Covers can be bought on sale (I only buy them on sale) when stores or websites are clearing out inventory or companies are promoting a new design.  There are basic ones that aren't anything like the plastic pants of the old days, but are PUL, waterproof material.  They all work well.

COST:  $40
Full diaper system birth to 1 year old, our plan, our strategy-

$0-$4---24 gifted receiving blankets or receiving blankets from Goodwill, Yard Sales (!!), or Secondhand shops
$8---4 100% wool sweaters from same as above.  Makes 20 newborn soakers or 8 toddler soakers.  You will have plenty!
$4---Make your own carry bag
$18--3 PUL Soakers Just in Case
$0--Any gifts people give you.  Gift cards to diaper sites, etc.  These will let you experiment with products you wouldn't go out on a limb for.
$2-- Good dritz (safety) pins (Snappis are cool, but wear out after 6 months, no landfill waste for me.  What if I inherit that land someday?  I don't want to live on a landfill.)

You only need 3-4 covers!  Sometimes that is minimum, but we've only ever had a total of 4 covers and there are no problems.  No need to spend tons of money.

1.  Knitted:  Learn to knit, make some awesome covers from free patterns on  Buy wool or alpaca, camels hair, mohair, angora, or lambs wool, always, as natural as you can.  My favorite is $9/skein.  One average skein yields 2 1/2 HIGH QUALITY soakers.  Can be sold for $30-40 easily...yes, each.
2.  Repurposed Sweaters:  Buy 100% wool, 100% Merino or 100% Lambswool sweaters from Goodwill with your saver card (makes it even cheaper), cut them up, sew to make 5 small soakers or 2 large soakers.  Very fast, easy, works well!  Very absorbent if you pick a nice thick wool.

WOOL/ Fiber knitted etc. SOAKERS ONLY NEED TO BE WASHED WHEN THEY GET POO on them or start to smell.  You soak them in Lanolin so that they repel the moisture.  It's so cool!!!

3.  PUL:  Polyurethane, waterproof, lightweight, not one size fits all typically.  That's okay, they're more affordable ($5-14 each).  When they get dirty, hose them out, dry them off on your pants, reuse.  Easy.  GREAT FOR HIKING.

4.  AIOs:  See explanation below in the ALL IN ONE section.  

 Your prime tool:  A BIG bag to hold your diapers, or a drawer or whatever.  We seem to be very mobile and this works really great for us.  I made it, patchwork granny squares all crocheted together.  Scarf through holes in the top as handles.
 The WHOLE shebang:  Diapers, Liners, Doublers, Covers, Wet Bag, Holding Bag, etc.

The idea...  Flat diapers are the original cloth diaper.  When sewing wasn't available, cloth was wrapped around the baby's bottom to soak up pee and keep the mess off the mama.  You have to fold these up.  They are very large pieces of (cotton) fabric unfolded.
My opinion...  I love them!  They dry super fast on the line, stay soft, are free or insanely cheap, can be used for anything, very versatile.  Don't look like a diaper.  Easy to hand-wash!  By far my favorite to use on the trail, camping, on the road, etc.

Exhibit A:  I have about a dozen of these great, vintage, handmade diapers.  They are extremely long rectangle strips of fabric that you fold up as a great and versatile diaper.  I was introduced to them by my grandmother who used this style back in the late 50s and early 60s.   I've never seen these on any of the diapering sites, they're totally unique.  By the way, they're EASY to make.  1.  Tear flannel  2.  Serge ends  3.  Catch poop.

Exhibit B:  I  have over a dozen receiving blankets that I fold up as you'll see below, into a fantastic absorbent diaper.  Like I said, most everyone can get a-hold of receiving blankets for free or dirt cheap.

Folding Process:  Origami Fold...Sounds hard, a 3 year old can do it.
The idea...prefolded, and sewn together so you don't have to do a lot of folding.  
I SAY...these are convenient, durable, etc.  take a lot longer to dry than the others because of the many layers vs. 1 layer thing, but it doesn't bother me at all.  This is what we started with.  They're a great trainer diaper for newbies.  These are organic cotton, unbleached and are really really affordable.  They are made and sold by small time producers, so less worrying about sweat shops and slave labor.  Which I tend to worry about...not excessively of course. 

Laying Flat:

 You can always add a liner on the inside or out for extra absorbancy.

 1.  Pull to ends together, one overlapping the other.  2.  Fold the narrower part up to be even with the back.  3.  Fold in tabs.

There are tricks and tips that help enormously, but would be too lengthy to get into here.  Maybe we'll do some videos in the future.  If you demand it.

Classic Gerber Birds Eye Pre-Folds:
This is your mom's diaper system of the 70s.  Gerber produces these uber-affordable, accessible birds-eye tri-fold prefold cotton cloth diapers. 

 1.  They are thinner than any of the other diapers
2.  They may be bleached cotton standard, though I think you can get them unbleached.
3.  Made and manufactured by a huge corporation that is probably using sweat shop labor and under cutting higher quality products made at home by people locally.

1.  They are pretty cheap, you can buy them or ask for them as a gift and most people will be able to get them easily.
2.  You can buy them at almost any store that sell baby stuff (a lot of good diapers must be bought on line or at a specialty store.)
3.  Don't take a long time to dry.

I SAY:  We have about 2 dozen of these.  They're great, if and only if you put a thick insert in.  Any padding will work.  Strips of cloth, tri-folded washcloths, etc.  Otherwise they're too thin.  We didn't buy them.  They were given to us and have been a tremendous help to our diaper stash.  I probably wouldn't buy them myself because they are contributing to the breakdown of local, stable economies.  :(
ALL IN ONES or Modern Diapers:

 Ahhh...modern consumer geared ingenious convenient options.  Or are they?

The idea...These diapers are hybrids between disposables and cloth diapers.  They're fully reusable, but don't have as much bulk as your typical cloth diapers.  No folding  necessary, just shove your insert in the pocket and you're ready to go.

I SAY...We have 3 BumGenius! AIO's  (Diaper covers with inserts) and extra microfiber cloth inserts (around a dozen).  They are great.  Though we don't use them in the ordinary way.  Consumer culture found it's way, as it always does, into the trends, even if the trends are to conserve.  Sounds like an oxymoron.  It is.  Your small infant poops around 12 times a day, or mine did.  You need AT LEAST 12 covers for 12 poops, and you'd better be washing them one after the other in the washing machine or by hand, or you won't have a diaper cover to put on the baby.  We use our flat or prefold diapers, put on the baby like normal and the BumGenius! diaper cover only, unless we put an insert in for overnight sleeping.  They're kind of expensive ($15 a pop)  and the company wants you to have as many covers as inserts.  You can spend a lot of money or a tiny bit on cloth diapering.  It's up to you.  We love the versatility of the one size fits all cover.  We've used it from day one till now (1 year plus) and it still fits great.  So the covers are great, as covers.  The stains come out very easily.  However, BumGenius is pretty big now and I wouldn't be surprised if Gerber owned them.  Stay away from big corporations.  They tend to ruin our local economies by outsourcing all the labor to cheap, or slave laborers in other countries.  I don't want to be a part of it. 

 1980s style Pre-fitted diaper:

Our parents used these.  They are pre-shaped.   Extremely durable.  Many layers, take longer to dry, don't always catch the poops because you can't fold in little gussets.  Not my favorite, but it works.  This one is unbleached, all organic, WAHM (work at home mom) made in the USA.  Cool!  Around $15 each.  Labor costs money.  We have to deal with it.  We only own one of them, but it's really easy.  Mike likes it!

What about storage for dirty diapers?  1.  Take off diaper.  2.  Put poop in toilet (if clumpy)  3.  Put in wetbag.
We used a bucket for a while, but it's not that necessary.  Wetbags can be expensive.  In that case, use a bucket or whatever you can.  Plastic grocery bags work.

How do I wash them?  However you want.  Machine is easiest.  Conserve energy and wash by hand.  Line dry, or dry in your dryer.  Use natural soaps, no cheap stuff.  Stay away from brighteners and Phosphates (you'll see them in the ingredients).  I make my own detergent.  It's insanely cheap.  Cheaper than buying even the cheapest and it's eco-friendly and non corrosive.

What about wipes?  We use cloth reusable wipes.  Baby washcloths are really cheap and work awesome.  You'll probably get tons from your baby shower, or load up at yard sales for pennies.  Throw them in with the diapers when you wash them.

What about stains?  Line dry your diapers.  The sun bleaches the diapers.  Don't use bleach on your diapers.  This can really hurt your baby's bottom.

OUR BAG THAT HOLDS IT ALL and the wetbag beside it.

SOURCES:  Get your cloth diapers from these awesome retailiers (there are SO many good ones online.  A lot of WAHMS serve in the diaper manufacturing industry):


  1. I love this post and as a mother to six (only 2 in diapers now), I have been inspired to go cloth full time as you show how cheap and easy it can be done. Up till now I have been a part timer and kind of lazy about that. Awesome, Thank you!!

    1. I'm so glad it's been an inspiration! It took so long to figure out how easy it all was. :) There's so many people trying to make money off cloth diapering that it confuses the real information.

      Good luck and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all!

      peace, love, grace