Welcome to Diaper Week in our So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth Series. Today I am excited to have Heidi Greening from Nutrional Healing guest posting. She is going to share her insight on cloth diapers on the ins and outs of cloth diapers. (A fun tidbit about Heidi, she was on Food Network’s Chopped this Spring.)
If you have done any research on cloth diapering you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed. In the world of diapers I’ve noticed two extremes. On one hand you have the militant cloth diaperers who spend hours writing on cloth diapering message boards, buy, resell, and spend countless dollars on everything out there. These people tend to act quite superior about their choice to cloth diaper and will do more damage than good when trying to convince a newbie to use cloth instead of disposables. The other extreme are the disposable absolutists. They feel that cloth diapers are a disgusting, unsanitary, expensive waste of time. They have forgotten that up until about 40 years ago, cloth was really the only choice available and somehow mankind has survived.
Let me reassure you that there are many moms out there who are somewhere in the happy middle! I have children ranging in age from 13 years to 1 year and a baby due in October. We have always cloth diapered and I’ve watched the metamorphosis of cloth diapers over those years. I’m a “happy middle” mom and this look into cloth diapers will come from that perspective. I don’t let the new “eco-chic, guilt” reasons to cloth diaper persuade me nor do I allow the mere thought of baby poop to send me running for a package of Huggies. Have you ever watched the documentary “Babies?” The mama from Africa just wiped the baby poop off her leg with a corn cob!
First a breakdown of what’s on the market now.
Pre-folds, with a cover
- Cheapest Option
- Most durable, can easily be used through two or more babies
- Babysitters or grandparents might need a tutorial. (I just let them use disposables unless they’re watching my newborn)
The original and still the most reliable (in my opinion) is the traditional pre-fold diaper and a water proof cover. Pre-folds are made from folded layers of cloth that are sewn together on the sides and with two rows of stitching in the middle. These are the diapers our grandmothers used with pins and plastic pants. Today we have a variety of types and sizes. You can purchase organic cotton pre-folds, organic hemp pre-folds or the basic bleached white. They are the least expensive type of diaper. With today’s covers you no longer need pins. Some people choose to still use pins or a little plastic device called a “Snappi.” I have never used pins but did try a Snappi for a while and found it to be more trouble than it was worth.
Pre-folds with a polyurethane cover or a fleece cover held with snaps has been my number one choice for years. They are virtually leak proof, quick and easy. I simply fold the diaper into thirds, place it inside the cover, lay my baby on top and fold up the front. I open the sides of the diapers so it covers more area and fits nicely in the cover. Close the snaps, and that’s it. You can choose between covers with snaps or with Aplex Velcro. In my experience the Velcro wears out faster and gets covered in fuzz in the wash. I stopped buying any diapers with Aplex a long time ago.
Fitted Diapers with a cover
- No folding
- Tighter fit (sort of)
- More like a disposable, so less frightening to babysitters or grandparents
I have a few of these and have enjoyed them over the years. They are slimmer than pre-folds but definitely more expensive. They usually have some type of elastic around the legs. I have found that they are not as absorbent because of using less cloth and they tend to allow for more leaks and blow-outs even with a good cover. It’s nice to have a few of these for convenience sake if you find a good deal on them.
- Supposed to eliminate the need for different sizes of diapers. Said to fit newborn through 36 months. (I’m not convinced)
- You can add more inserts as needed for night time or heavy wetters.
- No need for a separate cover, cover is sewn to outside of diaper.
- No folding.
I bought a whole set of these for my third baby. I liked having some all-in-one style diapers with the cover sewn to the diaper and liked that they were fitted with elastic in the legs, more like a disposable. I found the sizing information to be somewhat unhelpful. If you have a bigger or smaller baby they won’t fit well even if the leg and thigh elastic is adjustable. I also did not like the extra step of adjusting the waist and legs as they grow and putting in and removing the inserts with each diaper change. They are expensive! However, they are super cute! I sold most of mine but kept the cutest ones and use them for fun or when I need to wash my pre-folds.
All-in One Diapers
- The most like disposables. Fitted waist and legs, cover sewn to diaper.
- Super easy for babysitters and grandparents
- No folding
When I first started my cloth diapering journey I bought a bunch of these, spent a fortune and ended up selling them to buy more pre-folds and covers! They are beautiful diapers but they tend to allow for blow-outs and leaks and are less durable because they need a much longer dry time. Air drying, if it is an option for you, is always a better choice for any diaper but with these, air drying would take weeks! My advice? Own one or two for fun but don’t waste time or money.
- Glorified disposables
- Washable covers with disposable/compostable inserts.
- Good absorbency, great night time choice or for travel
- Expensive and hard to find
I tried these out of curiosity. They are pretty interesting but have some bugs that sent me back to regular cloth. The wet inserts can be composted and will break down. The poopy ones just need to be tossed. The covers are washable and fit well. I never had a blow-out or leak with these even when I used them at night and my third baby is a very heavy night time wetter. I felt that the liners were expensive and hard to find. They can be ordered on-line but price and size availability varied widely. They are not for sale at most grocery stores so if you’re in a bind and need the inserts right away you might not be able to find them. The only place I could find them locally were expensive baby boutiques and health food stores making them not a good option for me. I like the idea behind them though.
So what does cloth diapering look like in the home of a veteran?
I use pre-folds and snap covers on my newborns exclusively. Once the baby is eating solids and the poop is not newborn poop anymore I place a thin flushable liner in the diaper to catch the poop and make it easier to throw in the toilet.
My dirty diapers go in an old Diaper Champ pail lined with a washable liner I bought on line. I never soak or rinse my diapers. I start using a Seventh Generation brand disposable diaper at night probably around 6-8 months when it seems my babies go into pee-pee overload at night and they wake up uncomfortable with clothes soaked. I’ve tried putting them in ultra thick cloth diapers and that was just too uncomfortable for them.
I use disposable diapers when we leave the house, except for the newborn. Most public restrooms are not set up for cloth diaperers. If I have to change a poopy cloth diaper in a public restroom, the toilet is usually miles away from the changing station. Making it dangerous and difficult at best. Also, cloth diapers are heavy in a diaper bag. Diapers for one are no big deal but diapers for three would be crazy for me! Remember that once you change the diaper you still have to get it back home. I put dirty cloth diapers in a waterproof bag that I bought for the purpose. For a mama with three in diapers, having the older kids in disposables while we’re out and only carrying cloth for the newborn is much more doable.
My oldest toddler is a heavy wetter and major pooper. I couldn’t keep up with the laundry so I switched him to Seventh Generation disposables a few months ago. He’s close to potty training so this is a good option for us for now. The one year old wears cloth at home and disposables when we’re out.
Why would anyone use cloth diapers?
I’ve read tons on this subject. Every article lists different numbers that try to expose whether or not you will be saving the universe and/or just saving money on the venture. What I think it really comes down to is what each family feels is best for them and their child. I prefer that everything in my home and life be as natural as possible and I don’t mind a teensy bit of extra work to achieve that. My belief is that the easy route is not always the best route. I like the comfort of knowing that my sweet, brand new baby has natural fibers and not a chemical, petroleum based piece of instant trash next to her skin and other sensitive parts.
Cloth diaper detractors need to remember where we’ve come from and that just because something is new or easier, it’s not necessarily better. The cloth diapering army needs to bear in mind that our fore-mothers left the home far less than we do today. My grandmother didn’t even learn to drive until after she was married and had to take the bus to the grocery store because they didn’t have two cars! They had time on their side; we are busier now (Though that may not be something to boast about).
Cloth diapering has changed a lot over the last 20 years. There is an option for every budget and personality type. I’m grateful to be living in a time with disposables as an option and a sanitary cycle on my washing machine and dryer!
There you have it! I hope that you will give cloth diapers a try!
Stay tuned for the rest of the “So Long Disposables” Series. Last week we talked about cloth napkins ,wool dryer balls (enter in the giveaway) and cloth bags. Stay tuned as we continue tackling cloth diapers with a interview and giveaway!
About Heidi: Heidi Greening is a professional chef and nutritionist. She also possesses over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry and uses her love of performing to teach engaging and entertaining cooking and nutrition classes. Heidi loves to create healthy comfort foods with the help of her husband and four adventurous children in the rural setting of the Texas Hill Country. She is currently working toward her herbalist certification in order to help families everywhere learn how to love being in the kitchen and use food and herbs to heal body and mind. She blogs at the Greeing Homestead.