Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cloth diapers- Pt 1 of how ever many it takes!

Cloth diapering was my first real jump into the 'green living' world and very dear to my heart! I started out one afternoon just googling information and was instantly lost. There were so many different kinds, so many different places to buy from, so many things I had no idea what were or if they were necessary! But first, if you are wondering, 'Why cloth, you addle-headed hippie?' take a gander here at why this mom thinks cloth is the way to go: http://library.adoption.com/parenting-and-families/why-use-cloth-diapers/article/2317/1.html

The potential for saving money was one of the big reasons I justified getting into cloth- according to what I researched those first few days, the prefolds were the way to go for the maximum in savings. So, with that knowledge in hand the first order placed was the classic 'Try It' prefold package with Snappis and Bummis PUL covers. http://www.cottonbabies.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=352
And of course, having no clue as to what I was ordering, I ordered the wrong size! I was so excited to get that first package- carefully read the instructions, washed the bazillion times to prep properly. Got one on my baby. And realized this just wouldn't do. Looking back, wish I had thought to take a picture of that poor attempt to put a prefold on my baby, but also the sheer ridiculousness of the giant diaper on my really, really angry baby. She had just figured out how to roll over and just what the heck was Mom doing to her? Off the diaper went and back to the computer to place a new order for the smaller size.
Sized Prefolds
Prefolds ended up just not working for us. CottonBabie's package offeres only Infant and Premium sizes. Many love these and swear by them but they may not be the best introduction to cloth for those starting out. If you do want to use prefolds for the economical reasons, I recommend GreenMountain prefolds. http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/diapers.htm
They have more of the usual NB-XL sizing so you can really get a good fit without a ton of bulk. These are also good quality prefolds, I have a couple dozen in the preemie and newborns myself. 'What, did I read that right, you will still use prefolds?' You read that correctly. Much to my surprise, I discovered those tiny prefolds fit better than anything else on the smallest of tushes. For all future babies, those will be our choice in cloth for the first 6 months.
How many?
There's always the question of 'How many?' Well, that depends. How heavy does your baby wet? How often do you want to wash? Prefolds are generally a one-pee diaper. The number of times a baby wets varies by baby and by age. As a rule of thumb I say to plan on 2 dozen for any diaper you get(but don't get that many right away!). This is on the conservative side for prefolds, some may choose for 3 dozen or even more. But 2 dozen is a good place to start.
Why not get 2 dozen right away? Because cloth diapers are as numerous as there are different cuts to jeans or shapes to shoes. Your baby has an entirely different shape than mine and there is a cloth diaper out there made to fit your baby. When first starting out and after the prefold disaster, my next cloth were 5 Happy Heiny small pockets with hemp inserts off Craigslist. They were perfect, easy to use, absorbant, cute and a great fit. They got me to looking at the rest of the line and I decided again, for economical reasons, to go with the onesize pockets instead of the sized. Ended up purchasing around 2 dozen brand new at 18.95 a piece. Yes, that was a lot of money. And yes, it was very sad when I realized a few months into it, they really weren't working for us. So, moral is, start with one or two of several kinds, wear them for a while and see which ones you really like enough to use for several months.
Last up for today, a look at covers to use with the basic prefold(also prefitted and fitteds). My first covers were in that basic package from CottonBabies: Bummis. They are a great first cover and I recommend then highly to those starting out and wanting something easy. http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/covers.htm Bummis Super Whisper Wraps have a waterproof laminate layer covered by a baby- skin- friendly knit so no laminate actually touches their skin. These are really tough covers! You can wash them in the washer and hang dry. Some covers you can use more than once without a break, these you do need to allow to air out between diapers so you want probably 3 to start out with. The velcro tabs allow for easy on/off and they have several very cute prints.
Another type of cover is wool. I was very intimidated by wool for a long time, and it wasn't until I was running out of options for my 7mo old super duper wetter, that I gave in and tried it. A couple months later, I'd switched entirely to wool and sold off my PUL/Bummis covers. Wool truly is the superior cover. It is breathable, so it stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool holds a lot of moisture and does not leak easily, making it the best option for long trips, nights, naps and your every day heavy wetter. Most wool has to be washed by hand. This sounds inconvenient, but it really is not difficult and does not have to be done very often. I've gone easily a month between washes. 'Isn't stinky?!' No, wool has natural self-cleaning properties to it and when allowed to dry between uses, can be used over and over. The lanolin in wool is what gives it it's waterproof abilities. Over time, the lanolin wears off. There are products available that will add this back to your wool, often contained in your actual wool wash making it a one step process. But, wool and wool care is a topic deserving of it's own 'part', so we'll get into more specifics at a later date. The Covered Caboose and Aristocrat are two great wool covers available at GreenMountain under 'Diaper Covers': http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/covers.htm#coveredcaboose

We've just barely begun to take a peek at all that is possible with cloth! Stay tuned for more(and more frequent) posts to help you and your family make the switch.
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