Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101

So you have decided to cloth diaper, or maybe you are just curious how it works and if it is right for you. I will share my experience with cloth diapers and my tips with you here. 

I woke up one morning and as I was changing my sons diaper I thought to myself what is this diaper made out of? So I started to research and what I found definitely changed my perspective on disposable diapers. Here is what goes into a typical disposable diaper. 

Hydrogels, or polymers, make disposable diapers extremely absorbent. According to a July 2004 "New York Times" article, hydrogrels can absorb up to 100 times their weight. The primary ingredients in hydrogels are acrylic acid and acrylamide, also called sodium polyacrylate. While acrylic acid is nontoxic, acrylamide causes cancer in animals and may cause nerve damage in humans, according to the World Health Organization, or WHO.

Most commercial brands of diapers are bleached, and dioxins are a highly toxic byproduct of this process. According to the WHO, dioxins "can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer."

Most commercial brands of diapers list synthetic perfumes and dyes as ingredients.

I had no idea there were so many chemicals touching my sons skin 24/7. It made me pretty mad, to think they don't list these ingredients on the package! So I started seeing a lot of information on cloth diapers, made out of cotton, fleece, bamboo and hemp. All natural and safe for my little guys skin! So this is one reason I chose to cloth diaper, another is money! You save so much money its ridiculous.  

For disposable diapers, the average cost per diaper nationwide is $0.28 per diaper.  If your child is not potty-trained until 3 ½ and you change your child every two hours, for fifteen hours (not changing during the time they are sleeping), you will average approximately eight diapers per day. Eight diapers per day would not be accurate when they are a newborn, but this is probably the average amount of diapers you would use on any given day. The total cost for this figure (3 ½ years, 8 diaper changes per day) would be $2,862.72. 

For cloth diapering, the costs range widely and it is hard to give exact figures on how much these cost. Cloth diapering (including the cost of cloth wipes & laundering) can range between $400-1300 dollars. This figure ultimately depends on whether or not you choose the Cadillac diapers or the Pintos.  Regardless of the style that you chose, you still come out financially ahead by using the cloth versus the disposable. 

So that's two huge reasons to make the big switch but there are even more! The environment was another good reason for me. I consider myself pretty green, I recycle, I am vegan, and I try to keep my carbon footprint pretty small.  

18 Billion Diapers are used and thrown into landfills each year (enough to stretch to the moon and back 9 times). It takes between 300-500 years for disposable diapers to decompose when exposed to direct sunlight and air. Since the diapers are dumped into landfills, covered and not exposed to the sun or air, who knows how many hundreds of years they will be around!

So these are some great reasons to switch to cloth! Are you ready? Here is my list of must haves to cloth diaper!

1. Diaper Pail - I bought a white garbage can from target for $8 it came with a lid which at first I thought was great but now I keep the lid off. What?! You have the lid off so the diapers are just out in the open stinking up the room?! Quite the contraire my friend! Keeping the lid closed makes for some stinky diapers, the ammonia will set into your diapers causing some stinky issues every time your little one pees. Keeping air circulating in your pail keeps the stink away!

2. Pail liner - Planet wise makes a great pail liner that comes in a variety of colors. Think of this as a wet proof laundry bag. It makes for easy transport to the washing machine on diaper laundry day. 

3. Diaper Station - Here is a picture of my diaper station. I have bins to keep all of my diapers in, my wipe warmer with my cloth wipes in it ready to go. My pail with my liner close by to store dirty diapers. A shelving unit to hold all of my bins and wipes etc. 

4. Wipe warmer - Okay you don't have to have one but it makes things a lot easier! It keeps your wipes warm and moist. 

5. Cloth Wipes - Cheap washcloths, old t-shirts cut into squares. You can use whatever you want really. I used all of the washcloths I had from when Cavin (my son) was a newborn. They are soft and work great! They do roll on the ends once you wash them but it doesn't bother me. I love cloth wipes, I only have to use 1 even with a huge explosive poopy! I remember using like 10 disposable wipes every diaper change, that adds up fast and wipes are expensive!

6. Wipe Solution - You can make your own but I prefer to use a premade wipe solution. They are called Bum Drops and I love them, they smell and work great! 

6. Laundry Detergent - You shouldn't wash cloth diapers with any old detergent. I have heard of people using Tide, but I am going to stick with cloth diaper safe detergent. I am currently using Rockin Green detergent. 

It works great, and gets my diapers clean but it doesn't leave a good smelling scent. It makes them smell like nothing which is fine but I love my clothes smelling good so I would like my diapers to smell good too! I am currently waiting for a new detergent in the mail and I have gotten a lot of recommendations for it. It is called DeeTergent and it is cloth diaper safe and has a lot of great scents! Here is a link to the website where you can order it. 

7. Diapers! - Of course you need cloth diapers, but first you have to decide what kind of cloth diaper you would like to use. Todays cloth diapers aren't your grandmas cloth diapers with the rubber pants. There are so many brands to choose from and so many types, it can be overwhelming! Just take a deep breath! I use Pocket diapers, they are my favorite. I do have some all in twos and all in ones that I like but I always reach for my pocket diapers first. Now you are probably thinking all in two?! Pocket?! What is all of this mumbo jumbo. Here is a list of every type of cloth diaper. 

                       One of my Alva pocket diapers just to show you how cute they are!

Cloth Diaper Types

Flat: A large flat single layer of fabric, typically cotton that can be folded many different ways to be used as a diaper. Most people would cover this with a waterproof or water resistant cover. You can improvise and use things such as receiving blankets to make mock flats.
You need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.
Prefold: A flat, layered, rectangular diaper with extra layers for absorbency in the center. Commonly used with a fastener and waterproof cover. These are probably the most economical diaper you can buy at only $1-3 each. They can be folded in a variety of ways and held together with pins or a Snappi or they can be tri-folded and used in a cover. These can also be re-purposed as cleaning rags or used as inserts or doublers in another diaper.
You need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.

Fitted: A shaped diaper that includes elasticized legs like other modern cloth diapers but without a layer of PUL (waterproof fabric). These diapers may have the absorbency sewn in like an all-in-one, they may have a pocket for stuffing, and they may have snap in or sewn on layer(s) of absorbency. Fitted diapers are great for night time use. They allow maximum airflow and when combined with a fleece, wool, or acrylic cover they become very water resistant, usually more then a diaper with PUL.
You need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.

Pocket: A diaper with either an outer layer of PUL or a hidden layer of PUL with either snaps or an aplix closure. These diapers have a stay-dry inner made of many different types of materials like microchamois, minky, velour, and fleece. These diapers have a pocket opening that allows you to stuff as little or as much absorbency as you feel is needed. It is the most common type of diaper and is very easy to use for caregivers when pre-stuffed.
You do NOT need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.

All In One (AIO):
These are often described as the easiest diapers for caregivers. They are usually sized diapers that have all the layers of absorbency sewn right into one single diaper. They require no stuffing but they often do not clean as well as a diaper with openings and they take much longer to dry.
You do NOT need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.

All In Two (AI2): Similar to an AIO, but with a removable absorbent layer for easier washing and faster drying. Absorbent layer is usually snapped in place inside the diaper, sitting directly against baby's skin.
You do NOT need a cover to make this type of diaper waterproof.
Hybrid: A diaper system that consists of a shell that has the option of both cloth and disposable liners. These are often the most expensive diapering route, but the disposable inserts come in handy when camping or on  vacation without access to a washing machine. 

So now that you have chosen to cloth diaper and know which type you are going to use, start stocking your stash! My next post will be how to launder your diapers. I will show you step by step how to do it, and you will see how easy it is. Welcome to the cloth diapering world! I hope I have made it easier on you. I know it can be overwhelming and confusing at first but once you get the hang of it and learn the 'lingo' it is easy and awesome!

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