Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cloth Diapering 101

Are you interested in cloth diapering, but don't know where to start? (I feel like I'm writing a paper. 'Draw in the audience with a question!') ;)

I have decided to make a blog post about the absolute basics of cloth diapering. Hopefully I can answer some people's questions that they may be too afraid to ask.

When I was pregnant with Kylee, I constantly had to call my sister and ask her what a pocket diaper was, PUL, and don't even mention a Snappi! Since we live 1000 miles apart though, this was always on the phone, and I'm a visual learner so I wasn't retaining the information.

Here's the basics:

Choosing the Right Kind

There are LOTS of different types of cloth diapers (CD's) out there. You just have to find what works for you. If you try one kind and hate it, that doesn't mean CD aren't for you, it just means that particular type may not be. If you have a CD store in your area, check it out! I don't so I had to do research online, and ask friends.

I asked all of my CD friends what their preferred method was, bought a couple of each kind of every one's favorites, and found what I preferred that way. I highly recommend buying used. Check out CraigsList, eBay, and even garage sales. You'll spend way less money (obviously) while finding out which method you prefer, and remember - you can always turn around and sell what you don't like for what you paid for them.

And please know there is much more information out there that what I know, but I am posting my knowledge to hopefully help at least one person.

Anyway, there are three basic types of CD: (click on the link for more pictures)

AIOs are just that. No stuffing or covers or anything, just put it on and go. I don't personally know anyone that uses these though so I don't either. This means that I don't have anything good or bad to say about them, and I also don't have a picture.

Pocket diapers have a liner than you have to stuff inside. I have a couple of these but Kylee is just growing into them so I haven't used them yet. However, I have been told they aren't as absorbent as prefolds, and I personally HATE stuffing them, and I only have two. I do have a friend, though, that swears by pocket diapers. She loves them. Again, you just have to find what works for you. Below is a picture of my pocket diapers. The purple one is stuffed, and the liner for the pink one is above it.

Next are prefolds and covers. (This is my preferred method.) You have to buy prefold diapers (just like the Gerber ones that are awesome for burp rags but they make much higher quality ones too.) I prefer Chinese prefolds, and below is a picture of one of mine.Next is a Snappi, which is used to hold the prefold on (instead of the old fashioned diaper pin method.) I'd show you a picture of mine, but I only have one, and Kylee is currently wearing it.

Then you need a waterproof cover to go over the prefold. If you hear someone talk about PUL, it is just what the cover is lined with to make it waterproof. Here are mine:

If you look, my solid color ones are fastened with Velcro, and the multi-colored one has snaps. Again, it's all in preference. Velcro does wear out, which is something to consider. Another vocabulary lesson: gussets are the extra piece of elastic lined fabric that is sewn in around the part that goes around the thigh. See the picture below:

Gussets help with holding in the moisture. I don't suggest covers that don't have gussets.

Dealing with the Dirty Diapers

There's two options: a wet pail, and a dry pail. I use a wet pail. I have a 5 gallon bucket that I put Oxi-Clean and water in, and throw the dirty diapers and covers in there to soak until I'm ready to wash them. I highly recommend a wet pail if you'll be washing with a front-loader like I do. Also, please keep the wet pail somewhere out of a children's reach. Think: drowning hazard. A dry pail is done by using a wet bag (fabric bag lined in PUL) or an actual covered bin. A bit of tea tree oil in the pail keeps the smells inside.

Washing CD's

How to wash them just depends on who you talk to. I suggest you really research yourself on what type of detergent to use. However, every CD mom will tell you a few of the same things on what to do: 1. Do NOT use a detergent with fragrance and stuff, because it contains soap. I don't know why that's bad, but I know it is. I think it messes with the absorbency of the diapers. 2. Do NOT use fabric softener...also messes with absorbency. 3. Do NOT dry your covers in the dryer - always line dry them. The heat will, over time, ruin the PUL layer and they wont be waterproof anymore. 4. If you have Velcro covers, make sure the Velcro is fastened so you don't make a diaper chain in your washer. I had to learn this the hard way, and also messed with the gussets on one of my covers and had to throw it away. It was a sad day.

There is much controversy on whether or not there are any regular store-bought detergents that are ok for CD's. But, there are lots of CD-specific detergents, so when in doubt, those are always a safe choice since they're designed for CD's.

For info on washing CD's in a front loader, check out my separate post on that subject.

Other CD things to consider that I don't think I'm knowledgeable enough to give my opinion on: *cloth wipes *disposable liners *fitted diapers *diaper services (Doesn't save you much money-if any-but is still good for the environment compared to disposables.)

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