Friday, August 22, 2014

Cloth Diapering & Natural Diaper Care

I just got done hosing down a poopy diaper.  Again.  Most people think I'm crazy for choosing to cloth diaper my daughter, and that's OK.  But I couldn't be happier with my choice, and I'm not afraid to break the mold ;-)  So whether you think I'm crazy, amazing, or somewhere in between...read on to see realistic tips and tricks for cloth diapering your little one!

My start and the ones I use:
 First and foremost, I must link the ultimate cloth diapering website HERE.  There is every single piece of information you can imagine on this site in regards to cloth diapering.  This is where I ordered all my diapers and products from!  She runs the business out of her home right in Illinois, and I was referred to it by my sister's friend.  For more information about why I chose cloth diapers and my ordering look HERE.  This is just the most amazing website.  I spent an entire day going through it and speaking to the owner (and attending her FREE cloth diapering class) before placing my order.  However, no amount of research can provide you the realistic picture of cloth diapering.  It's messy, stinky, and yet one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.  See below for a list of pros and cons before you make your choice.  So...which diapers do I use?  I tried a couple when Stella was a month old (she wore disposables for the first month due to my unplanned C-section) and didn't like them because they leaked.  Looking back as a more experienced user now, it could have just been the fit.  However, at the time I was going through some postpartum depression and lots of adjustments, so I decided to continue using the disposables until she was a little bigger.  So, a few months later I started using Rumparooz Pocket Diapers (I linked to Amazon, but I got all mine from Pinstripes and Polkadots. She does free shipping on orders over $25 if you're not local).  These diapers fit from a newborn to potty training age and they are fabulous!  There are so many different styles, and Pinstripes and Polkadots goes over them all with pros and cons, so check them out if you want to find what's right for you!

Storage:
If you wonder how I store all the diapers and accessories refer to THIS POST (and also get a sneak peak of Stella's nursery!).  I will say this was how it looked before she was born.  Obviously, some minor changes were made to make the diapering process easier.  I keep them out on the changing table and just throw them in the baskets when we have company.  I like my house to be practical yet beautiful.  It's possible people!  The only other real change I made was to put the hanging diaper pail in the small bathroom.  When it's time to wash the diapers (about every 2-3 days) they do tend to get a little smelly it's the pee that stinks, not the poop as most people think).  It's not bad, but since I shut the door to her room when she sleeps, I didn't want to shut the smell in there.  Keeping them in the bathroom keeps the smell from us.  The hanging diaper pail is awesome!  Washable and leak-proof all while taking up no room.  I'm in love.

Keeping them Clean:
Since I just talked about the diapers getting smelly, I better go right into how I keep them clean.  For info on how to wash them, refer HERE.  Based on the diapers I use and the amount I purchased, my routine consists of washing them every 2-3 days.  I use a short cold pre-wash, a regular wash with THIS SPECIAL DETERGENT (no, not even my HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP works on the diapers.  They need specially formulated detergent.), and then a cold rinse followed by one cycle in the dryer or (preferably) a few hours of drying in the sun.  Now, you may be thinking that it's utterly disgusting washing all that poop in your washer.  What if I told you I don't wash the poop?  I have THIS DIAPER SPRAYER that hooks right into our toilet.  I simply spray the poop into the toilet, give the diaper a squeeze, and throw it in the pail.  I even was our towels and underwear with the diapers.  They get super clean and I save on water!  Yes, it's more work than tossing the diaper in the trash.  But once you get the hang of it, it really takes no time at all.  You just have to decide if that's something you can see yourself doing before you make the cloth diaper investment.

After a few months of use, I noticed the diapers didn't appear to be coming clean and they still seemed to stink after I washed them.  I either missed this section of the class or it wasn't covered, but you must strip your diapers every 6-8 weeks!  YIKES was I behind!  I asked a friend what she used and she suggested THIS TREATMENT (you just use like regular detergent).  I purchased it and had to strip my diapers twice (since I was running behind) and I swear they are like brand new and smell like sunshine!  Drying diapers in the sun helps remove stains as well (plus saves you electricity!).

Nothing like a little diaper cleaning on a beautiful day!
Traveling & Swimming:
At first I used disposables when we left the house.  And then I realized I was still buying lots of diapers and not saving as much money as I intended.  So I decided to buck up and start using the cloth ones on the go.  And guess what?  It's not that hard!  The only negative I found is that they take up so much more room in the diaper bag.  I have 2 WET BAGS that I take with when I travel and I simply throw the dirty diapers in them and they go right into the pail when we get home.  I'm really lucky and Stella only poops at home (weird, right?).  I would just spray the poopy diapers when we got home if she did.  I do have some diapers that have disposable liners (kind of like a pad) that you can use and throw away when traveling if you prefer.  I haven't tried them yet but will update when I do. 

For swimming I simply use a diaper cover (there are several brands and styles to choose from).  They work great.  Target even sells re-usable swim diapers now!

All-Natural Diaper Care:
You can't use regular diaper rash creams with cloth diapers.  They must be all-natural so they are easier on the fabric.  I use THIS CREAM when Stella gets a little red, but honestly I haven't noticed any diaper rash to speak of since we've been using cloth.  One of the bonuses!!  I use cloth wipes and warm water (from a Peri water bottle) to clean her up if there's no poop.  For poopy diapers (and in the morning) I use my HOMEMADE NATURAL BABY WIPES.  Love them! 

Exceptions to the Rule:
While I am all for cloth diapering, I am also realistic.  With that being said, there are times cloth just doesn't cut it for me.  I have heard using both disposable and cloth on your baby gives them horrible rashes.  I'm sure that's true for some, in which case you'd have to commit to one or the other, but we do occasionally mix the two with no consequences.  I think it helped to mix the two from the start.  At nighttime Stella sleeps from 6:30pm-7:30am.  I use Parent's Choice overnight diapers every single night.  I know people who successfully use cloth overnight, but I am not willing to put a wool diaper cover over my baby while she sleeps to prevent leaks.  Personal preference.  When we go on vacation, I buy a small package of disposables and we use those.  I'm not washing diapers on vacation.  Finally, Stella uses disposables when other people watch her.  I'm not going to force my ways on other people, I want them to use what they are comfortable with while watching Stella.  It makes me feel better that they are doing what works for them while I do what works for me.  It's all about the compromise!

Pros:
Cloth diapering is cheaper (in the long run), better for the environment and better for your baby.  I like not having to buy diapers (and wipes) every time I go shopping.  I like knowing I'll never run out of diapers.  Cloth diapered babies have less run-ins with diaper rashes and (on average) potty train earlier (because they don't like feeling wet, which disposables prevent).  Cloth diapers are so cute and I just like the all-natural, old fashioned approach.  I'm sure there are more pros out there, but those are just the ones that sold me.

Cons:
Despite the pros, there are some cons to cloth diapering.  First, it is a big investment.  I will say we spent a good chunk of money to start cloth diapering.  But I knew it was for me and that I would eventually get it figured out.  I can use the diapers through potty training and for all of my future babies as well.  Cloth diapering also takes more time.  You have to spray, wash and (for my particular diaper) stuff them when they're clean (put the liner back in them).  It takes a while to figure out how to snap them up, and you spend lots of time up front researching, ordering, and pre-washing them.  If you have a full-time job, this might be time you just don't have.  The last con I've noticed is that you have to change them more often.  I change Stella every 2 hours and still run into the occasional leak (not too bad, but not something you have with disposables).  Again, if you don't have time for this or don't want to ask your daycare provider to do this, you may want to stick with disposables.

Bottom line:
As a parent, your job is to keep your baby healthy and happy.  If using cloth diapers stresses you out, you won't be able to provide the best care for your baby.  Personally, I want to be a stay-at-home mom and take the all-natural approach to baby care whenever possible.  I love knowing I'm providing my baby with safe diapering and saving the environment and money in the process.  Whether you choose cloth or disposable, as long as you're taking care of your baby you're doing it right.  Make your decision and proudly stand by it without cutting others down in the process.  Now, it's time to go change a diaper :-)

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