October 14, 2009

Cloth Diapering 101

Last year, with my third baby on the way, I found myself obsessing over cloth diapers. I'd been working at an upscale baby boutique in the previous year, and knew (or thought I knew!) all the ins and outs of cloth diapering. Now, I hadn't used cloth diapers with my dd (now 10) and my ds (now 6), mainly because it sounded so overwhelming at the time. But I was bound and determined to cloth diaper our newest addition in an effort to save both money and the environment.

After countless hours of research, I decided to try good old fashioned flat fold diapers. You know, the 27" cotton flannel squares? These are the ones that noone in the online cloth diapering world seems to talk about. I can only guess that's because they don't make anyone very much money. They are the absolute cheapest option out there. I was worried that the low price would equal low performance, but I was wrong! In addition, I only have a washer in my apartment so I wanted a diaper that would line dry quickly. These dry faster than anything else out there.

All told, I spent under $100 to diaper the new baby. Some of my flats are ready made white cotton ones that are available at any department store, and some of them are cotton receiving blankets that I've cut to size and zigzagged around the edges with the sewing machine. Basically, you can either buy the ready made white flats or make them from 100% cotton flannel sheets or receiving blankets. As long as they are 27" square, or close to it, you're all set. In addition to the flat diapers, you'll need diaper covers that keep the wet inside the diaper. These are usually made from PUL (polyurethane laminate), have elasticized legs and waist, and snap or Velcro-style closures. If you are going the easy route and purchasing everything ready made, it will cost you slightly more- here's the cost breakdown:

36 flat diapers @ $15.00/pkg of 6 = $90
(in my town, you can get Kushies flat diapers at Walmart for this price)
4 covers @ $15.00 each = $60
(this is the average price for Bummis covers in my area)
diaper pail = $10
(price is approximate, mine is a white plastic garbage can from Walmart)
40 cloth wipes @ $1.00/pkg of 4 = $10
(these are baby facecloths I purchased at my local dollar store)

TOTAL: $170

You'll also need to buy larger covers as your baby grows, but you can continue to use the same flats throughout.

Ok, so now that you have your stash, throw all your flats in your washing machine and wash on hot, once with detergent and once without. I use Claudia's Choices detergent because I have allergies to regular detergents. The Bummis website is a great resource, here is their list of recommended detergents for your diapers. After they are washed, throw them on a clothesline or in your dryer. This initial cleaning removes any residues or oils left in the cotton and will ensure top performance.

Once dry, you'll need to learn to fold your diapers. I find the Origami fold works best for small babies, and it is fitting ds well. I am planning to switch to the Kite fold once she's bigger. After you put on the diaper, you add a cover, making sure that there are no parts of the diaper sticking out of the cover, especially around the legs.

When I change ds, dirty diapers and wipes go in a dry diaper pail. If a cover isn't soiled, I just reuse it again. On diaper laundry day (I wash them every third day), the whole contents of the pail go into the washer. I rinse and wipe out the diaper pail with 1/4 cup of vinegar, and in nice weather put it out in the sun to dry. I do a prewash on cold, then a hot wash with cold rinse. Because the detergent I use is a zero-residue detergent, I don't need to rinse a second time. That's it...on the line the diapers go, dry, fold, repeat the process.

As a side note, instead of diaper cream, I use olive oil with a drop or two of lavender essential oil. This protects baby's bum perfectly, without using chemicals. I haven't seen a diaper rash when I use it with each diaper change, even when I used disposables with my first two. With my wipes, I only use water. Once baby is eating solids I use also use a bit of handmade bar soap that I get at the market.

I'm really enjoying cloth diapering, I just wish I'd had someone to sit me down and explain it all to me when I had my first baby. I would have had more dollars in my bank account and less guilt about all those garbage bags going into the landfill.

I'll be adding pictures of the Origami fold when I get the chance. Please let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to help someone else get started on cloth :)

No comments:

Post a Comment