Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doing the Diaper Thing

Well, I've written about cloth wipes and diaper liners and I've written about gDiapers, so now I'm going to try to give an overview of my life as a cloth-diapering mama...because

1) one day I will most likely forget all the ins-and-outs of diapering this way.
2) several people recently have approached me for advice on the matter, so I'm going to do what I can to shed some light on this very ethereal way of life. Ha!

Let's see. The day begins with a diaper change, as well it should. THIS is the hardest one all day for me (and Daddy!!!). Because something about a baby sleeping 11-12 hours in the very same diaper (one withOUT perfumes!) just creates a very noxious odor (thank you, Ammonia Build-up)! I swear you'll think you might could pass out if you don't hold your breath as much as possible. And I don't know about yours, but my babies??? They wet. a. lot.

Once my fave all-night diaper (Bumgenius 3.0) has been properly dumped (inserts emptied out first, laundry tabs secured) into my WAHM-made wet bag, I will commence to wiping. This is the one and only time (with exception of any dirty diaper changes) I will wipe the babies all day (using my wipe solution and cloth wipes). I'm going to bring this up again because I've had people ask me, and even though I posted a link before, I can't expect that everyone actually clicked that link. So...did you know that the acid in a baby's urine and his/her skin are actually the same pH level? And that every time you wipe your baby, you are changing the skin's natural pH? And that doing that (constantly changing their skin's pH) is BAD for their skin?? It is ASKING for rashes, yeast infections, and/or soreness! Seriously, it is NOT necessary (or even acceptable) to break out the wipes each and every time you change a diaper!! And while I'm on the subject of preventative care, it is ALSO not acceptable to put diaper creams, etc. on as preventative measures against rashes. PLEASE! All you're doing when you do that is "teach" baby's skin that it doesn't have its own built-in protection. It becomes accustomed to--reliant on, even--all that "goop" full of man-made chemicals. And then it can't fight off problems on its own. Also, constantly coating their skin makes it so that the skin can't "breathe." Think natural. Think back off and let things alone. Okay, that's said.

At this point, I usually put Sweet Baby in a regular diaper cover

with a cotton prefold inside.

I do not FOLD my
prefolds around my baby and do all the fancy tucks, etc. or use diaper pins (or Snappis). I simply fold my prefold diaper in thirds and LAY it in the diaper cover.

The whole thing then just goes on like a normal diaper would. Like

Now. SOMEtimes I'll use THIS fold...

and use diaper pins and actually not put a cover on them. I usually only do this if all the covers are dirty or just not dry yet or if I know I'm just doing a quick change and that I will be back to do another one within an hour. Like if baby is dirty right before dinner. I might just do a quick cloth diaper with pins, no cover; feed baby dinner; and then go get him ready for bed. He would have only wet one time most likely, and a good cotton diaper will absorb that just fine with no need for a cover. (Mind you, I wouldn't put any clothes on over it because they would definitely get damp.)

Anyway, speaking of pins and Snappis...I tried Snappis. I like them because they go on quickly and can be adjusted to tighten or loosen the diaper around the baby as you are diapering, BUT you MUST use them with a diaper cover...because they are removable by baby and they are SHARP!! (So that annoys me.) Another problem is that they don't last forever. You're supposed to discard and replace them after a few months, I think. AND you have to rinse them each time they get wet, which is EVERY time. For me, I just found they were unnecessary to my life. They are not needed at all if you just fold the prefold into thirds and place it inside the cover the way I usually do. As I stated above, I DON'T do all that traditional folding if I'm just going to put a cover on. "Why?" you ask.

Well. For one thing, here's what I noticed when I would do that: The diaper would be wrapped all the way around, so when it became very would soak to all areas. And then I'd have to touch! (bleh!!) that very soaked diaper because the Snappi would have to be removed. I just got to where I couldn't see ANY reason for doing it THAT way. Really. Can you see why just laying the prefold in the cover is more efficient and less yucky? When I take the diaper off, I just grab the OUTSIDE of the cover with the diaper inside, take it to the wet bag, and dump the inside stuff. The cover can usually be reused. And my hands stay clean. It's way easier, quicker, and cleaner. (But that's just me.)

I usually try to air out the cover I've just removed, so if you come to my'll most likely see diaper covers hanging on the front of the changing table like so:

Okay now. Covers I use.

1) I have a few Proraps. They work well. They are just plain white, the inside of which eventually turns to a nasty chartreuse (nah...that's too nice...maybe more of a dingy brown-egg sort of color) after being in contact with bodily fluids and then being washed multiple times. But they are definitely economical at about $9.00 a cover. Downsides to these would be that they are sized, so you'll need to get different sizes as baby grows (of course, this is the case with most all diaper covers). Also, they are not cute and they have Velcro tabs, which will eventually give out, I'm sure.

2) I have two
Bummis wraps. One is the Whisper Wrap (pictured at the very beginning of this post), one is the Super Bright (below). These are CUUUUTE covers!! Two probs, though. The way they fasten in front (with the Velcro) doesn't quite work after the baby has been wearing it a while. I haven't figured out the physics of what's going wrong, but things seem to slide around in such a way that the waistband where the Velcro lies starts rubbing on and scratching up the baby's belly. That's not good! I was always having to keep an eye on it so we wouldn't get uncomfortable. Prob #2 is that BOTH of my Bummis wraps have lost ALL their Velcro stickiness. It's really weird. I purchased these at the same time as the Pro-raps, the gDiapers, and the Bumgenius diapers I own, and everything else seems to be doing fine in the Velcro department, while THESE are no good to me anymore (at least until I get some more Velcro tabs and sew them on. Hmmm...when might I get around to that?!).

3) I have one Litewrap. I HATE it. First of all, it is OVER-SIZED!!!!!!!!!! Gabriel at two and a half years old still doesn't fill it out. (I'm thinking maybe when he's four.) I use it ONLY for Gabriel at his nap time. It hasn't leaked, but I think that probably has more to do with my very absorbent prefolds and less to do with a well-made, well-fitting diaper cover. I have to remember to remove it immediately after he wakes up...or else it will be sagging to his ankles. And I really wish that was an exaggeration. Also, the Velcro on it has NEVER been nice and sticky. They have a set of snaps for extra security, but there's no adjusting them so your kid would have to have a 30-inch waist for them to be of any help. Yeah...don't get this brand.

4) I have two Imse Vimse covers. These are plain white and actually seem to stay that way. They are soft and stretchy. They just feel nice. They don't have extra gusseting around the legs, so you can't stuff them overly full. That's the only negative I have for these. I use them mainly for play time (not nap time when I need to have a little extra padding for all the heavy wetters I've birthed). For play time, they do great.

5) I have one
Bumkins Vented cover. This cover doesn't have much gusseting either, which might be a problem if there's a large BM in baby's future. And I'm not entirely certain that the "vent" placed in back actually makes any kind of difference. But I've not had any major problems or gripes with this cover so far. It's CUTE, too. They have a great selection of fabrics to choose from. Ours is "Green Eggs and Ham." Orange. My favorite baby boy seems.

6) Another cover I have used in the past is the Polar Bummi. I had this one when Atticus was brand spanking new. It's soft, and I like that. But it really has nothing to stop the moisture. It's just a really thick fleece. They say it has a laminate sandwiched in between two layers of fleece, but if it does, it's a THIN layer of laminate because the outside ALWAYS felt damp to me. It also seemed to make Atticus sweat when he wore it. It's made by the same folks who make #2 above. So...guess what?? Velcro issues.

7) Several months ago I purchased two new diaper covers to try. The first is the Econobum. It's standard white and comes with it's own prefold diaper. Think of this as a bonus, because you would obviously need MANY more prefolds (and covers for that matter), and you can use any prefolds in this cover. (It is not a requirement to use the prefold it came with.) Anyway, these are priced at $10. For a diaper cover, that's good. (And this one even comes WITH a diaper! Remember? BONUS!) I haven't used it long, so I don't know anything about its longevity, except for the fact that this cover hasn't a scrap of Velcro on it! This is what is called a "One-Size" diaper, so there's no need to change sizes as your baby grows. It uses snaps to size up or size down and even has snaps along the waistband, set about every 3/4 inch. It is a mere single row of snaps, though, so I worry it won't hold up over time, as that puts a lot of stress on two snaps to keep things closed up at the waist. Hmm...we'll see....

8) The second one is the Flip diaper. It's the same idea as the one above, with several exceptions. It comes in three vibrant colors. VERY pretty colors. It is a "One Size" cover as well, but it also comes with a "One Size" insert. The insert just lays in the cover (like you would do a folded prefold diaper, only it's not a prefold that needs folding), but take note that it is a "stay dry" insert. This means that like its predecessor, the Bumgenius, it's made of microfiber and suede cloth, which helps to wick moisture away from baby's skin. It's super soft, too. This cover also has a snap waistband, but the difference is that the Flip has TWO rows of snaps for greater stability. Right now? This has to be my very favorite cover. I can use the insert it came with or my regular prefolds. It fits like a dream. And it looks great, too.

Now. Prefolds. I swear I can hear many of you muttering, "What in Sam Hill is a 'prefold'?!" Well, ladies, it's just several layers of flat cloth diapers (I mentioned them above...see the picture?) that have been sewn together in varying levels. For instance, you might see prefolds that are "4x8x4." This simply means there are 4 layers of fabric stacked and sewn together on the two sides of the diaper and 8 layers sewn together in the middle. The diaper is sewn in thirds. (And to explain my folding method, I would fold each "side" into the middle, which basically means there are now 16 layers of fabric running down the middle.) Or maybe you might find "2x6x2." So, 2 layers on the sides and 6 in the middle. Make sense?

Prefolds in a nutshell: Unbleached absorbs better than bleached. But bleached ones work fine, too. Just pointing it out... Twill absorbs better than Birdseye weave. Organic cotton absorbs better than conventional cotton. etc. etc.

Alright...back to the daily schedule. At nap time, I use my Premium (4x8x4) unbleached Indian cotton prefold. They are a little long, so in addition to folding it into thirds, I fold down the end so that there is more padding up front ('cause we need it). I usually use a Prorap cover because they so rarely (if ever) leak, and with all that extra gusseting they hold my bulky Premium prefolds in quite nicely. When nap time is over, I usually change him into something a little less bulky, like a Regular (4x6x4) prefold, which is not just fewer layers but is also shorter, so I don't need to fold down the end. I like to use his cuter covers when he's up playing. Because they make me happy. ('Cause it's all about me, you know?)

And then at bedtime, my diaper of choice is the Bumgenius 3.0, as I've said before. I love them for nighttime diapering for several reasons.

1. They are pocket diapers, so I can stuff them as full as I need to depending on the needs of my baby.
2. The lining inside is micro-fleece, which wicks away moisture. That's a good quality for a nighttime diaper...for obvious reasons.
3. They are comfortable. Nice, soft fabric stitching around the legs. No plastics or vinyls to mash on or scratch up little legs all night long!
4. Once stuffed, they go on as easy as a disposable, and that's good because Daddy often diapers at bedtime...'cause getting four children under 7 ready for bed say the least...challenging. (It's definitely a team effort!)

Big breath..........and hold it.......

Now we've got to store these stinky things. Unfortunately. (But, hey, at least no more trips to the garbage for Daddy!) I've tried several things with regard to storage of diaper laundry.

First I tried just a plain, small plastic bin. I put the diapers directly in it with no additional lining. This meant that each time I emptied it, I'd need to wash out the bin with soap and HOT water. This method didn't last long because of how quickly it would fill up (with two in diapers) and how gross it was to wash that thing out each time.

After that I used a real and for real diaper pail. I believe it was a Graco pail. I was all excited about it because it had a "hands-free" feature which made it so I could just wave my hand over a sensor on top and it would open up for me to toss my diaper, and then it automatically closed back up again. Would have been awesome had it consistently worked the way it should. And also if it had a bigger capacity. I was using a diaper liner/wet bag at this time. I'd pull the bag out when the pail was full, but the bag would still have 3 times the room left for diapers.

This prompted me to purchase a standard flip-top trashcan at Wal-Mart. I hung my diaper liner in the trashcan. It worked alright, I guess. BUT the flip-top left openings in the lid, which caused seepage of "stank" into the room. It wasn't horrendous, I guess. After all, my diaper liner has this great square piece of flannel sewn into the seam to which I added a drop or two of essential oil to help with odor issues. It did help. I just never got used to it. I had no other alternative method, though, so I kept it up...until one of the kids broke the flip-top. Instead of replacing it, I've just been using the bag on its own. I keep it in the bottom portion of my changing table drawer. I sort of twist the top closed after putting something inside. It seems to be enough to keep odors to a minimum. I just have to make sure to wash every other day because the bag is not 100% waterPROOF and will eventually start getting damp on the outside. (That's certainly not ideal.) This method works fine for me right now.

Now. Laundry time!! One thing about it, be prepared for plenty of extra washing. It's doable, though. What I do to help me feel like I'm not "wasting" my washer's time is I put all white socks, rags, and towels in the washer first and then dump the bag of diapers in on top (along with the bag itself). Our socks and baby food rags can ALWAYS stand an extra wash. See, ideally you need to wash your load of diapers twice. Once on COLD with a standard amount of detergent (although I usually skimp on this one a little). And once on HOT with a standard amount of detergent. You'll also need to run an extra rinse cycle during that second washin'. It's important to not have soaps and stuff building up in your diapers because they'll stop being absorbent.

Be CAREFUL on your laundry detergent choice! You've got to go as natural as possible. No laundry additives, softeners, or optical brighteners. You'd be surprised what ALL that knocks out as potential detergents for diapering mamas. It's annoying really. I make my own detergent, which I'll have to blog about separately, but there are other alternatives. See this chart for a fairly comprehensive list of many common detergents and their ingredients.

Another thing I've learned over time was to QUIT FOLDING ALL THOSE DIAPERS!!!! Seriously. I'd do the laundry and then sit FOR.EV.ER. folding rectangles into smaller rectangles and then stacking them up higher and higher. When Atticus was first born, he lived in OUR bedroom, so his changing table was a seat thingie in my walk-in closet. I used this little wicker shelf doodad to stack his diapers on. It looked great. WHEN it was full of freshly laundered and folded diapers. Gabe had a crate on top of his changing table full of HIS diapers.


I HATED every moment of that. I'd get SOOOOO frustrated when I'd go to grab a clean diaper, and it would come unfolded before I could get it in the cover. I kept thinking...WHY am I wasting my time folding it and stacking it, when I'm going to have to fold it AGAIN anyway??!!! Finally, (and I truly don't know why I never thought of this on my own) I was reading Becca's blog one day and she had a picture of a big laundry basket sitting on the changing table full of cloth diapers that she had taken straight from the dryer. That's where she KEPT the basket. I was like......"WHOA!! What a concept!!" I promptly went out to Target, purchased a large plastic tub (orange, of course) with handles and have been happily dumping clean diapers into it ever since. (You can see it to the left of my changing table in the picture above.) And that is their new home. No more folding. None. Whatsoever. Except if I've got time, I'll go ahead and stuff my pocket diapers so they'll be ready for Daddy (in case he's helping at bedtime). 'Cause he don't stuff. *grin*

This post brought to you as a part of Works for Me Wednesday. Cloth diapering works for me, but you should check out all the other stuff that works for folks. Go be enlightened.


  1. I had to laugh that I popped in on the day you talked about diapers.....seeing as I am WAY out of them!!! but hey, I had NO idea all the little gizmos they had out there these days!!!

    Hope you had a great christmas!!!

  2. If you have a problem with the Bummis wraps, then please contact Betsy or Shirly at Bummis. They swear by their products and I'm sure they would be unhappy that you weren't satisfied with the life of the velcro. Katrina, Nappy Ever After, Bummis UK distributor.

  3. ha! I read all that and who knew I'd have a mention at the end? I keep dirty diapers in plastic walmart sacks. If I were greener and took my own reusable bags to the store, that wouldn't be an option. But, I'm not. SO they go in a sack and when it is full, it gets tied up and taken upstairs to a plastic tub by the washer where it waits until I do laundry. You must wash diapers much more often than I if you are able to put ANYthing else in with them.
    And right now, I'm so stinking behind on laundry (b/c we've been in and right back out for the past week) and then was dealing with all the laundry from the stomach bug that went thru here before Christmas... that he's not wearing cloth diapers right now. I *never* did that with Elijah. Even when HE had a nasty stomach bug. But quit using cloth on him at 18 months. I could not deal with all that real poo... dunking and whatnot... not when pregnant. Plan on trying out the liners this go around though... when his poo is real :)
    Gonna get back to it though AS SOON AS all this laundry that has piled up on me is done. A new washer/dryer is on my wishlist... one that holds a small elephant.

  4. Wow...that's a lot of work! I applaud you! Good job!

    Those colored diaper covers are so cute! I wish I had the patience for cloth diapering because I'd go and buy those right now!

    Have a Happy New Year! ;)

  5. It is funny to me that the real reason I didn't start cloth diapering with Micah is because it sounded like so much work! Now, with Heidi, I am loving every minute of it. Yes, there is more laundry, but I actually enjoy cloth diapering. Weird to say I like diapering!!! Anyway, I never read anywhere (until now)about the wiping at diaper time, but I had already adopted the idea that wiping too often was unnecessary and not beneficial. Now I have the proof I need! :)
    Lori- I have you to thank for giving me courage to just try it! :)


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