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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Organized Diapering Part 1: Why we chose Cloth Diapers

We have used cloth diapers for both girls, which is awesome on many levels.  First, I have only purchased a pack or two of disposable diapers in each size for travel or back-ups, so I estimate we've saved ourselves thousands of dollars.  I have no empirical evidence, but it just seems to me that a soft cloth diaper has got to be more comfortable than a disposable.  And I am happy to be doing a small part to reduce waste in landfills.  On a side note, all children should be required to take a field trip to the dump to see just how much stuff ends up there forever - it really makes you think about what you throw away!!

Anyway, back to diapering...  With our second daughter, we have noticed that we have the diapering system down to a science.  This, along with other experience from the first child, really made those first few months go smoothly, so I thought I would share.

Before the first baby Alyssa, we got 22 Tiny Tush one-size diapers, which are actually still made in the USA!  They cost about $17 each at the time, and we were able to register for them through a local store, Eco in Chico, so we got some help with the up-front costs.  I just looked up the website to get the link, and the style we chose (linked above) are now only $13 each through the website because they've come out with a 2.0 version (they are currently still $18 on  We elected to get all snaps because I just can't imagine that velcro could maintain its stickyness after all the washing, especially through multiple children!  As shown in the instruction card below, the rows of snaps along the front make the size adjustable. 
Since we knew we'd re-use them for future siblings, we kept the colors neutral and split between butter yellow and sage green.  This was a nice number, but in the early months, I would need to wash them a bit often for my taste (more on this in a minute), so we decided to expand to 28 diapers for the second baby Zoe (we just purchased six more).  The one-size diapers are rated to fit between 8 and 35 pounds.  Alyssa was well over 8 at birth, but Zoe started wearing them at just under 8 pounds and they worked fine.  Alyssa potty trained between 18 months and 2 years, and still wore them at night for another six months or so and we weren't close to outgrowing them. 

My daughter in a Tiny Tush diaper at 18 days old
With both girls, we used disposables until the cord stump came off for two reasons.  First, by this time the meconium is long gone (no one wants to try to clean that tarry stuff out!).  Also, the one-size cloth diapers are a bit large and bulky on a newborn (although they totally work without any more leaking than you might expect with a disposable), so it is difficult to fold them in a way that doesn't catch on the cord stump as it dries (it falls off in 4-5 days or so anyway).  If you give birth in a hospital, the hospital supplies you with diapers until you discharge and sends you home with a bunch too, so you still only need a package or two...

You should probably skip this paragraph if looking at poop bother you (but no, I won't be showing you any!).  :)  The other reason I will always be glad that we used cloth diapers from the start is that having to separate the poop from the diaper into the toilet before washing affords you an opportunity to acquaint yourself with what is a "normal" poop for your child in a way that you might not if you just fold the whole thing up and toss the disposable.  At about 3 weeks old, I started to notice little tiny flecks of reddish black in Alyssa's poop, which turned out to be blood.  The saga of trying to diagnose the problem is the subject of another post, focused on being your child's own advocate and learning that doctors don't know everything.  In the end, because I absolutely refused to stop breast feeding, we found out that Alyssa had an intolerance to milk protein (as well as soy protein, since the two have very similar biochemical structures) and we were able to correct the problem by me eliminating dairy and soy from my diet.  I really believe that since Alyssa didn't have any other symptoms (yet) besides the little tiny flecks of blood in her poop, we may not have noticed until much later if we hadn't used cloth diapers...  Alyssa outgrew the intolerance by the age of one (YAY!).

There are two things to know about cloth diapering (at least these types of cloth diapers)...

First, we were advised by Eco in Chico to use a particular type of soap in washing the diapers and were warned that "normal" detergents might destroy the leak-proof part of the covers over time.  That suggested soap was Charlie's Soap.  I know at least one person to whom the cover destruction happened after using the Costco brand Free & Clear soap, so I have always used the suggested soap for all of our laundry.  Switching back-and-forth and only using the suggested soap for diapers is said not to work because "normal" detergents leave residues in the washer.  I probably will never go back to "normal" detergents after using Charlie's Soap anyway because I happen to love it!  It ends up being a bit more expensive than "normal" detergent, but I am very chemical-conscious, and I buy it in a 4-gallon bucket that lasts well over a year, so I don't mind any small additional cost.  I'm able to get the 4-gallon size through another eco-conscious local store, Cathy's Sew & Vac. I think now there are several options for laundry soap that will work safely, but I've never investigated those.

The second thing to know about cloth diapering is that the bulk of the cloth diapers will affect the size of clothing your child wears.  Bottoms will fit at about a size larger than tops, at least until the 2T-3T sizes.  And in our experience for 18 month or smaller clothing, fitted bottoms like jeans are just not comfortable for the child, or they would have to be such a larger size that they'd be way too long.  We have used almost all stretchy bottoms, skirts, and dresses.  Not at all a big deal, but something to think about.

I ended up having much more to say about cloth diapering that I had anticipated, so in the next post on this topic I will show you our diapering system specifically.

Please know that while I welcome the opportunity to be involved in the official review of products, the manufacturers of the products I have discussed today have no idea that I exist, and these opinions are 100% my own and I have in no way been compensated or provided with complimentary test products. :)

This post has been linked up to the following link parties:

Weekend Bloggy Reading @ Serenity Now 
Frugal Friday @ Life As Mom 
Simply Natural Saturdays @ The Pistachio Project 
The Sundae Scoop @ I Heart Nap Time 
The Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table and Dreaming 
Mom's Monday Mingle @ Naptime Review 
Make It Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
Simply Sensational Tuesday @ Organizing Homelife
Tutorials & Tips @ Home Stories A to Z 
Home Decor & Organizing Party @ organize & decorate everything 
Frugal "I Did It" Tuesday @ Off the Grid at -30 
Thursday Mommy-Brain Mixer @ Two in Diapers

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