While trying to fold some diapers today I found myself re-directing the infant child away from my clean piles, the laundry basket and the edges of the bed. I know I would’ve been more successful with her in her play station or on the floor, but I wanted her close so I could speak to her more directly. Instead of speaking I found myself thinking, “why can’t she crawl this great anywhere but on the bed.” Random thought, Cricket cuteness.
A while back I tried to write a post that de-mystified cloth diapering. Some readers, like Sister Scales-of-Justice (formerly known as Sister Older-Older) let me know that my explanation was a bit long (albeit thorough) and still left one feeling a bit confused. Fast forward to “now” where Wife and I are right back in newborn mode expecting Baby Garbanzo’s arrival. There is a bunch of cloth diaper cleaning and sorting going on in our house. To add to that, Brother Long-Arm-of-the-Law and his wife are expecting their first child in October. And they have committed to cloth diapering their imminent son. The following is an e-mail that we sent them detailing the products we used with Sweetie and will use with Garbanzo. I think the information is easier to digest and we included links!
“Online is probably the best for buying your supplies. The store that we attended a free cloth diaper class and purchased our first set of supplies was Cutie Poops and Bottoms (http://www.cutiepoopsandbottoms.com/) near Orland Square Mall. This store also offers “Diaper Trials” were you can try before you buy.
Cloth Diapers: Ultimately, we found that OsoCosy unbleached, Indian pre-folds (http://www.clothdiaper.com/cloth-diapers/Prefolds/Indian-Prefold-Diapers-Unbleached-dozen.html?gclid=CJ2X78OXm74CFchFMgod_2cARQ), used with a snappi (http://www.cutiepoopsandbottoms.com/Snappi-Diaper-Fastener-1-or-2pk_p_191.html) were the simplest and most effective diapers. Depending on how often you want to do laundry, for a newborn, we would recommend 36 pre-folds (infant size) if you want to do laundry every other day, or 24 if you want to do laundry every day. Pre-folds come in a packet of 12.
Covers: Blueberry and GroVia proved to be our favorite brands of covers. They are well designed and stand up to wear and tear. We prefer the snaps closures over the Velcro because the Velcro dies over time. Look for the double gusset at the leg opening – this detail helps keep the poop and pee in.
We would recommend only a couple newborn size covers; they grow out of this size fairly quickly. Most of our covers are “one size” – you just use the snaps that size the diaper as needed.
Diaper Liners: we never bought the disposable diaper liners; we bought a packet of washable fleece liners but only used them a few times. If poop is a concern, we don’t think a liner is going to prevent much soiling, but the disposable liners may make it easier to dump the poop in the toilet*. Just remember: there is a chance the liner will stay clean, but the diaper will get loaded. There is also a chance the liner will get loaded and buried so you will have to add excavation to clean-up. Good segue into a diaper sprayer.
Diaper Sprayer: There are a variety of styles. (http://www.cutiepoopsandbottoms.com/FLO-Diaper-Sprayer_p_537.html) This handy guy is the hose we have attached to the side of our toilet. It connects to your existing plumbing. This guy will wash your poop and pee into the toilet so you don’t have to try to wipe it off the diaper. But you may want to keep your hand soap stocked up because life happens, especially in the toilet area. These days the sprayer has also proved handy for rinsing out Sweetie’s potty bowl.
Cloth Diaper Soap: We tried 3 different brands of cloth diaper “safe” soaps. EcoSprout worked fine but we used another brand (Funk Rock) to help with ammonia build-up (EcoSprout was started by a work-at-home Dad in Naperville). Funk Rock has a variety of lines based on your water type, much the same result as EcoSprout where we also used their ammonia-busting soap. We are currently using Charlie’s soap with good results, no extra ammonia busting and clean diapers. Downside to this brand is some babies get red bums (but not our “hard-ass”!).
Dryer Balls: will cut down on drying time (still expect two drying cycles); we use the wool kind but we’re sure that the plastic ones would work just as well.
Diaper Pail: http://www.buschsystems.com/recycling-waste-container-bin-cart-products/odor-free-diaper-pail/ – Learn from our mistake, do not try to use a garbage can, not even a fancy one! Airflow in the diaper pail is a must to prevent ammonia build up. This brand has a “teddy bear cage” that holds a wonderful charcoal filter and a spot for deodorizing discs…well worth it. We recommend at least two diaper pail bags.
Cloth Wipes: Thirsties Fab Wipes are our favorite. They are super soft on one side and poop grabby on the other side (do the initial poop wipes with toilet paper). In the beginning we wet the wipe with warm water and used some EcoSprout Bottom Spray. Eventually we found that just using warm water was enough.
Wet Bags: We recommend at least three.
Cloth Diaper Safe Butt Balm: CJ’s BUTTer is our favorite. We recently discovered a variety of scents that are fun without being heavy on the perfumes. EcoSprout has a product too that worked okay, but we were sold on all of the natural goodness in the BUTTer.
Pocket, All-in-Ones and hybrids: meh. We found one (1) Velcro-closure, one-size, pocket-style diaper was useful for pediatrician visits. If you don’t want to buy separate inserts just use a pre-fold in the pocket. Doc liked the ease of Velcro; we liked keeping Sweetie in cloth for visits. Otherwise these were too much for our use, again a pre-fold and a cover does the job well.”
This is from our cloth diapering experience so far. I know the interwebs has all sorts of additional information and opinions out there and that can often complicate the cloth diapering option. Hopefully this simplifies things and helps you get started. From there, I say do what works for you and feels the best while giving you the best results. Cloth diapering is just another option with its own things to get used to, so don’t over think it. Good luck.
* A random tangent here, and my favorite overlooked diaper factoid. Many disposable diaper users ask how we deal with poop. We put it in the toilet, where poop goes, (not the garbage can). All of the folks using disposable diapers for “easy poop clean up” need to read the packaging, specifically where it states to remove poop from a diaper prior to disposing.
Two-part post here folks, and no pictures of Sweetie to be had. So sorry about that, but I felt like I haven’t spoken about the tools in the D-3 toolbox for a while. Just want to let you all know about a great product that we use, and where to get some.
So we all have to deal with diapers and that means dealing with butts. Sometimes that means a chapped heiny or possibly even some angry cheeks (hopefully nothing too extreme though!). We have tried a couple of different butt balms with Sweetie with mixed results. There are limitations since many products are not compatible with cloth diapers. We started with a particular balm and it was okay. For the most part, Sweetie’s butt was fine. It wasn’t impressive, it just was. One day when we were shopping we overheard a store employee gushing about this particular product. Besides being some magical balm that would keep any rear end safe and supple, it was also cloth diaper friendly. So we decide to try out CJ’s BUTTer. We’ve been with it for a year now and think it’s great.
CJ’s is made from all natural stuff. Shea butter and stuff like that. We’ve been so happy with it that I read the label once and didn’t double-check the ingredients.We started using it around the 8 month mark and it remains our go-to butt balm. Sweetie’s butt is happy, so she is too. By “happy” I mean clean, free of irritation and healthy. Now nothing is perfect, and we have dealt with a red bum a couple of times. But red like chapped lips, not red like angry-bumpy-scary (internet pics of diaper rash are scary!).
Ironically, just as I was ready to push the “Publish” button, Momma Z handed me a travel tube of CJ’s BUTTer. Turns out they tried CJ’s with Linda and did not have a good result. Momma Z did tell me that Linda wears disposable diapers, and she did have a rash when they test drove the balm. Who knows why it wasn’t great for them? Just remember that nothing is perfect – if you try CJ’s and it doesn’t work well for your little one’s bum, then STOP. Don’t use it just cause the Flagman on the D-3 website said it’s magic.
So where do you get CJ’s BUTTer? Well, of course there is the interweb, where you can find anything you need. We support a locally owned and operated store called BellyBum Boutique. The owner of the store is a mother of three children, all with special needs. So she started a store that covered all of the interests in her life; cloth diapers, nursing, early childhood health, special educational needs. Check out their website for more details. The store is close to our music class, so it is easy to stop in to pick up supplies. Besides CJ’s, we also pick up diaper covers, soap and the occasional specialty item, like a bulldozer fork.
So if you are near the Lincoln Square neighborhood, stop in the BellyBum Boutique to check it out. Get you some CJ’s BUTTer while you are there and make your little one’s butt a happy one. Enjoy!
One of the many things that we had to address when preparing for Sweetie’s arrival was diaper choice. Both wife and I were cloth-diapered and we turned out well, so we were inclined to go with cloth. Add the economic factors, the environmental factors and the health factors and we were sold. The decision was straight-forward and did not become complicated until we tried to buy our supplies because in the cloth diaper market place there are many options. So I want to take a minute to break down the cloth diaper “system” to try to save some of you Dads the frustration that I dealt with. (On a funny note, Sister Older-Older thinks it is hilarious that it is a now referred to as a cloth diaper “system” when they used to just be called diapers – how pedestrian.)
We went online to look at our cloth diaper options. I quickly become tangled in the terminology, trying to sort out a cover and a hybrid and a pocket and a soaker and so on. We eventually placed an order with a diaper boutique (again, S.O.O. thinks that is too funny) for a few different styles. We figured we wanted to try a little of everything. When we went to the store we were invited to a class to learn how to use the diapers. I was hoping for some clarity and explanation, which there was. But there were also comparisons and anecdotes and even a mention of the wool diaper movement which only muddied my understanding. Many people have asked about the cloth diaper system and we have explained it many times. And one day Wife and I were standing at the changing table and the explanation became clear:
There is a cloth diaper and a cover (see Photo 1). The diaper traps the waste. The cover is waterproof to prevent the wet diaper from touching anything else. Done. That is the story, everything else is extra.
One of the confusing things that I found in the online information was the different names for the stereotypical cloth diapers. They are also referred to as “tri-folds” or “pre-folds”. This is not a different type of diaper and makes more sense when you see the stitching on the diaper (there are two stitches running the length of the diaper, dividing it in to three panels). The options branch out quickly: bleached or not, organic, etc. And the covers are even more varied. Some have hook & loop tabs for closure, some have snaps. Some are sized others are adjustable. Covers can be “just” covers, but they can also be hybrids and pocket diapers also. I will leave it up to you to keep digging and asking if you want to go that deep in to diaper systems.
One side note here about pocket diapers. Pocket diapers are a cover with a fast wicking liner permanently sewed in (See Photo 2). The liner is open on one end so you can add “soakers” as needed. The soakers are inserts that wick or absorb moisture to dial in the diaper according to your use (like overnight). When these were introduced at the boutique they were also referred to as “Daddy” diapers. It was meant as a joke because historically Dads are bad about diaper changes. I get it and I know Dads who fit the image. Hey, I have already admitted I have an issue with feces. But I regularly use a tri-fold with a cover for Sweetie. I tried it, got used to it, and now it is routine. Dads – part of my motivation for writing this blog is to change the perception of Dad as a bumbling fool. If you and your partner decide to go cloth, don’t get stuck on all the options. Just choose a style and get used to working with it – make it routine so it is not the butt of someone else’s joke.
After multiple test drives we settled on unbleached, organic cotton tri-folds with an adjustable cover for our everyday use. This works the best for us. We do use them when we leave home and have invested in the supplies to carry the soiled diapers safely. We do wash them at home and we have the hardware for rinsing them before they hit the wash machine (more on that later). We have found that a pocket diaper, with hook & loop tabs, is great for doctor visits. The pediatrician is able to easily work with it for the exam since it is similar to a disposable diaper. We have tried disposable inserts and sometimes even use disposable diaperss. And I can use them all so all of our diaper options are “Daddy” diapers. Again, find what works for you and make it a part of your routine.
In trying to make the cloth diaper system accessible I know that I am over-simplifying it. If it helps, remember it as Sister Older-Older puts it: you have the diaper and the “rubber pants” (I know, “The what?”). I have tried not to go in to too much detail, so I did not talk about the “Snappy” bands (no more pins), wet bags or soap choices. I will get in to some of that stuff in other entries. I have already said it a couple of times, but like everything else in the parenthood adventure, this is about finding the routine that works for your family.
In general, our society prefers disposable diapers. They can be very quick and easy – our family even makes use of them. Wife and I decided that we were not going to use them all the time, that’s all. That was our decision. And as I mentioned, we bought different styles of cloth diapers from different systems so we could find what worked for us. Overall, I hope this is helpful to anyone out there trying to make a diaper decision and considering trying cloth diapers. The online information about this stuff can be overwhelming and make it seem like a big deal, but it’s not. It is a lifestyle choice, however, and worth the time to investigate. I suggest also talking with your local diaper boutique. The employees know what’s up and will probably give you more information than you expected. And of course, ask other parents. I can’t tell you how many times I land in a dirty diaper conversation. Unfortunately, in the end there is one crappy reality: no matter which route you go, you still have to deal with a dirty diaper.