I must say, with my first baby, I was NOT a fan of cloth diapering. A part of me really wanted to try it, but I couldn't fathom scrubbing, dunking and spraying the poop out after every diaper change. I honestly thought it was gross... but then again, I didn't know ANYTHING about it and how easy it really is.... Really. So I am here to help you understand how simple it actually is and that its totally NOT gross. Promise.
Let me start by telling you that both of my boys have very severe allergies. My youngest has FPIES, which made for some very "interesting"
explosions diapers. And CONSTANT diaper rash!! If you have ever used disposable diapers, then you know- it can go up the back, down the legs, out the sides... well, you get the point. So I was basically cleaning it off their clothes often enough that I figured it couldn't be that much different to clean a cloth diaper, right? ;) So I began my research on cloth diapering. I felt lucky because we have a local cloth diaper store here in Colorado Springs, where I went and asked every question I could think of and learned what different peoples tricks and systems were. It was a great resource. And it was then that I decided I wasn't about to put my baby in a stiff, chemical filled, paper/plastic diaper again!
I also quickly discovered how many different types and styles of cloth diapers there are on the market these days! (I won't be explaining each kind, because I only use one style.) I chose "pocket" diapers because they seemed the most user-friendly for someone coming from disposables. Basically a pocket diaper has an outer waterproof material that holds everything in and avoids those dreaded leaks and explosions. That material is then sewn to the inner fleece lining that wicks moisture away from the baby's bottom and keeps them dry and comfortable. Those two pieces form a "pocket" where you stuff a very absorbent insert inside. Cloth diapers really have come a long, long way!!
If you know me, you know that I always do my research and compare all options extensively before I decide on something. But eventually I found THE one for us!! So Let me show you all about them! :)
WHAT BRAND DID YOU CHOOSE, AND WHY?
I chose Charlie Banana diapers for many reasons. I loved the extremely soft material that would be up against my baby. I love that they have snaps VS velcro. I have a very strong hatred towards putting velcro through my washing machine for a few reasons. The main one being that my husband is military, and washing his uniforms with ANYTHING else, will snag the other items. (And of course its always my clothes.) The other reason is velcro will eventually wear out over time, while the snaps will not. And because they are "One Size" diapers, that means I can use them again for any future babies! I also love that the sizing system is COVERED! So my baby won't have any red marks from the waterproof material rubbing on his back or legs and he won't have buttons and elastic pressing into his skin from the sizing. Another bonus, for mammas like me that have 'explosive' babies, is that you pull out the inside liner from the FRONT, so you won't have to touch any poop. (ill explain how to do this in the video). These diapers are also whats called a "Hybrid" diaper. Basically meaning that they have a disposable option if you needed one. (maybe for traveling on an airplane, or even at daycares that don't allow cloth diapering). I can explain the hybrid system a little better below. And if all of those reasons aren't enough, they are also super CUTE! :)
Here is what comes with the diaper when you purchase it. The diaper and two microfiber inserts; a small insert and a large insert. (these go inside the diaper) We use the large one now, and then stuff them both in the diaper at night for extra absorbency. Ill show you how to stuff the diaper in the video.
This is the outside waterproof lining of the diaper.
Here is the inside fleece lining- the bottom of the picture is the "front" of the diaper. As you can see- nothing but the soft fleece touches your baby!!
You can see the flap part towards the bottom - thats the opening of the pocket to stuff the insert inside.
This is the bum side of the diaper. A lot of pocket diapers have an opening back here, but I really appreciate the front flap, so you are less likely to have to touch any poop. Also, its great because the elastic part is COVERED with the fleece, so you don't have the PUL (waterproof material) rubbing against your baby's back, leaving a mark.
Here are the snaps- there are 2 rows to get a really good fit. The row that curves, is for the legs and the straight across rows are for the waist.
Another great fitting feature is this extra snap. Its used to over lap the flaps to get a really tight fit for a newborn, or small baby.
This is the sizing system. A lot of one size diapers have the button/elastic sizing which is nice, but I prefer this. Its great if your baby is right between sizes on the button holes- because with this, you can adjust a tiny bit at a time if you need to. That way you can achieve the perfect fit. It is also completely tucked inside of the leg gussets, so it won't touch your baby at all, and is still very easy to access.
Here is a visual of how different the sizing can be. Reminder: this is all the same diaper!!
The left (light blue) is adjusted to the smallest size with the leg elastics and the snaps. The middle (aqua) is what my son currently wears, (he is around 25 lbs) and the right (dark blue) is adjusted to the largest setting. The great thing about this is the smallest setting IS NOT bulky, and the largest setting still has a great rise and enough pull in the elastic to be tight and not leak. I'm not sure how they achieved this, but they did. Its amazing. I have heard some not so great things about other one size diapers not fitting well, so I was skeptical, but these are seriously great! :)
And again, SO SO SOFT!!!
Try it. Your baby will thank you. ;)
So now that you have seen how the diaper looks and works, let me explain better how to use them. Because this was my biggest concern when making the switch.
WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER YOU TAKE IT OFF?
I think this was a big one for me. I wasn't sure what to do with it once it was dirty. I read a couple things and decided a "wet bag" was the best option for me. I opted to make my own because they can get expensive and its a very simple project, but a ton of websites sell them. Basically a wet bag is a laundry bag made of waterproof material that you keep the dirty diapers in. I made mine similar to the ones that I have seen sold. It has an elastic opening at the top and a zipper going all the way across the bottom of the bag. Which I thought was genius and I definitely needed. Ours hang from the side of the changing table, and when I need to do laundry, I just unzip the bottom, shake all the diapers out of the bag, and into my washing machine. I toss in the bag as well and wash everything together.
Here is the wet bag I made. I actually have a few, that way I always have one thats clean.
***If anyone is interested in a tutorial for the wet bags, just ask!!***
The zipper goes all the way across the bottom, so you can easily unzip, and dump everything into the washing machine and never have to re-touch the dirty diapers!
Heres the top- just a simple elastic opening that is the perfect size to toss diapers into.
HOW DO I WASH THEM?
Another big question of mine (and a huge concern for my husband). But it is seriously easy!
Because my son has FPIES he cannot eat solid food right now, so he is exclusively breastfed. And breastfed baby poop is water soluble, so the ENTIRE diaper goes into my machine. I don't scrub, dunk, or spray the poop off. I simply pull the insert out of the diaper, lay it inside, and stick the whole diaper into my wet bag. It does not stink up the room, but I do laundry ever 2-3 days. (I am not sure about formula fed babies, because I only have experience with breastfed. But I would assume its the same, and the whole diaper goes in.)
Once my son is able to eat solid food, we will use 'flushable diaper liners'. (There are tons of different brands) But these babies are a life saver if you are like me and don't want to be scrubbing, dunking and spraying poop off of your diapers. It looks and feels very similar to a dryer sheet. You just lay the liner on top of the diaper, so it sits between your baby's bum and the diaper. They are great because moisture can pass through them and absorb into the diaper, but the solids stay on top. So once you change the solid poop, you can just take the diaper to the toilet, lift off the liner, and flush it! It removes the entire solid, so no poop is left in the diaper and nothing is going into your washing machine! (I can explain this better in the video)
First, I do a RINSE/SPIN cycle with COLD water and NO detergent
Then I do a HOT WASH/COLD RINSE cycle with an extra rinse at the end.
I like to rinse first so there is no staining and they are being washed with CLEAN water!! And I choose an extra rinse at the end to ensure there is no detergent residue leftover on the diapers. (that can cause them to hold in stink and stains.)
Depending on the weather, I use my dryer on LOW heat or I lay them out in the sun. You don't want to use bleach because it can ruin the waterproof lining. If you have staining or stink issues, you can lay them out in the sun and it bleaches them white again, so theres really no need for bleach anyway! :)
WHAT DETERGENT DO YOU USE?
You should use a diaper specific detergent when washing your diapers. And NEVER use a fabric softener or dryer sheet, because they will leave a film on your diapers making them non absorbent, and then leak. Obviously not a good thing when the point of a diaper is to absorb!
I live in Colorado Springs and we have hard water here. I heard about hard water making it difficult for cloth diapering mammas to really get their diapers clean and stain free, so I panicked. Then I found out about Rockin' Green Diaper detergent. I have the "Hard Rock" formula and I chose the unscented- "Bare Naked Babies". The other scents smell great before you use it, but once you wash, your diapers smell like nothing - which is good!!! I would have picked a scented one, but I chose the unscented in case my extremely sensitive baby reacted. This is all I have used and have never had any issues! I actually buy mine from a local cloth diaper market but you can also buy it online. They have different formulas depending on your water and you can get a water tester to figure out just which formula would work best for you. The owner Kim is extremely helpful as well if you have any issues or questions, which is always a huge plus and says a LOT about a company!!
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO WASH THEM?
I think this depends on a few factors. Mainly how many diapers you have, but also how old your baby is- because younger babies need to be changed more often. I like to change my son often, but I also own 38 of my beloved Charlie Banana diapers, so technically I could go a while without doing laundry if I had to. I usually don't though and do laundry every other day or every 2 days because I don't like letting them sit that long. But thats just me.
HOW MANY DO I ACTUALLY NEED?
Im sure you're wondering if 38 diapers is really necessary, and I can honestly tell you no, its not. I have heard a lot of different recommended amounts of how many diapers you need ranging from 12-36. I think it just matters how many you use per day and how often you want to do laundry. I could easily get by on half the amount of diapers I have, but I like having the option to not do laundry if I don't have to. :) And I will admit, I love the different colors and prints that they come in!!
HOW CAN I GO OUT WITH THEM?
I know quite a few mommies that cloth diaper at home, but not when they go out to stores. And it always confuses me. I don't think that it is any different/harder to do when out. The wet bag that I made and showed you earlier is similar to what I use when Im out and about. I made a few smaller versions with the same material and they just have one zipper across the top, with no other openings. They are waterproof, so nothing will leak into my purse or car which is great. Once I get home, I stick the little bag with the dirty diapers in my laundry room and then unzip it and dump it all into my wash on laundry day! (no different than what I am already doing!) Sometimes I will even have one bag with clean diapers and one with dirty diapers in my purse to keep them organized. Very simple!
EXPLAIN THE HYBRID SYSTEM.
This diaper also has the ability to become a hybrid diaper, which is a great feature for some! They sell special disposable inserts that tuck under the front flap and cover pretty much the entire inside of the diaper. (You would not be using the cloth microfiber inserts that come with the diaper when you use the diaper as a hybrid). When you change the diaper, you take the whole disposable insert off and throw it away, just like a regular disposable diaper. I have never used the diapers as hybrids so I am not positive, but I think the cloth part of the diaper works as a shell and can be re-used with another disposable insert. (As long as it didn't get soiled.) This hybrid feature is great for traveling on an airplane, or going to a babysitter that doesn't know how to use cloth diapers, or even to a daycare.
I want to end by saying how amazed I am with these diapers in particular, and the fact that my little man has not had diaper rash ONCE since I switched to cloth diapers! Which is truly a miracle for us.
Please comment if you have any other questions that I didn't cover in this post! I am more than willing to help you make the switch! :)
Also, I will post the video I made that shows you how to stuff, size and use the diapers!