Welcome to part 3 in my cloth diapering series. So far, we’ve talked about why you should try cloth and what your cloth diaper options are. Now what? What else is there?
Well, there are a few things. First, I want to break down a few more things that you will face when choosing your diapers. After that, I am going to briefly talk about the last bit of stuff you will want to think about getting if you are going to cloth diaper your kiddo.
I know this seems like a lot. Just remember that this is all of the extra bits, sort of a Cloth 102 section. If you are overwhelmed, that’s fine. Just walk away and come back later.
So, first, let’s talk about some options that you’ll come across when choosing diapers.
Cloth Diapers are a bit of a pain when it comes to sizing. You will see that you often have several options. Preemie (tiny), Newborn (itty bitty), Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Size One, Size Two, Size Three and One Size. Yeah. And just to make things more of a pain, there isn’t really a set standard so you will find that one brand of One Size will fit differently than another brand.
The easiest way to manage all of this is to look at the weight guidelines for each size. Pick the size that your baby’s weight fits in to. For those that want to start cloth from day one, you will need some Newborn sized diapers and then up, even if you go with One Sized. Why? Well, most diapers, unless specifically stating otherwise, start at around 8lbs. This means that they are just a little too big and bulky for those tiny little squishes.
Some diaper brands have really tried hard to make a one size diaper truly one size. I have personally been really impressed with Bum Genius, Charlie Banana and SoftBums for how small they can be, and yet how large they grow.
I sort of mentioned fiber a little bit in my last post. This is a way to really customize your diaper. Inserts come in a variety of materials, including blends, to cater to your individual needs. For those that are concerned, you can choose organic materials. For those that want to customize the absorbency and options of your diapers, you can choose to pick up diapers and inserts in different fibers and blends.
Generally speaking, from least absorbent to most absorbent, fibers range from microfiber (which is what comes with most diapers), minky (another man made material that is softer than microfiber), to cotton, bamboo and hemp. Microfiber is a manmade material that wicks away liquid extremely quickly but doesn’t hold as much as the natural fibers. Cotton is the most traditional and affordable of the natural fibers. Bamboo and hemp are super absorbent but can take a little longer to wick the moisture away. Also, hemp can get a little stiff, so make sure to give it a tumble in the dryer to help keep it soft.
Changing up your materials allows you to control what goes against baby’s skin, how much moisture it can hold (like for overnights or heavy wetters) or how dry baby feels after a pee (microfiber for the win). Obviously, they all do their job of absorbing what baby puts out, but it’s just another way that you can make your diapers work better for you and your lifestyle.
Ok, so now that you know about those options, how about we talk about the other stuff that you might need when choosing cloth diapers?
The Other Stuff:
Detergent. So, the thing with cloth is that it needs to be washed. Some people are really super precious about their laundry routines. Others, like me, not so much. What I recommend is that you choose a cloth friendly detergent (no scents, no softeners, etc… all of which can cause build up on your diapers which can cause repelling of moisture and stinkiness). You can go with fancy cloth specific detergents, like Rockin’ Green or Laundry Tarts, or you can try something like Tide Free and Gentle. Some detergents have sneaky ingredients, so avoid any of the baby specific detergents as they have softeners. What do I use? Country Save, as I am allergic to Tide.
Wet Bags. Because these diapers probably aren’t going immediately from butt to laundry, you need somewhere to put them in between washes that won’t make them gross or make your house stink. Enter the Wet Bag. Wet Bags are coated fabric bags that contain the mess, but allow air flow to keep stink to a minimum. They are washable and go right in the wash with your diapers. You can get them in a number of shapes and sizes, depending on where you want them or how you want them stored. Some people get a laundry basket and put a wet bag inside. Other’s hang them from the back of a bathroom or bedroom door. Whatever works best for you. I recommend having a couple big ones (so you always have one ready to go while one is in the wash with the diapers), and a couple small ones for diaper bags. They come in all sorts of cool fabrics so you can really make them fit your taste and your home. What do I use? A mix of brands. I currently love Planet Wise and Rumparooz/Kanga Care.
Dryer Balls. For those who love their dryer sheets, I have some bad news. Unfortunately, they also create a residue on cloth diapers. Not only can you not use them on your diapers, but we actually recommend quitting them all together because the left over residue in the dryer can still coat your cloth and cause repelling issues. So, what are you supposed to do to keep clothes soft and static free? Dryer Balls! Wool Dryer Balls are the big thing right now, as you can scent them with essential oils (lightly, otherwise you end up with residue agan), and they make fun safe toys for kiddos too. Laundry Tarts also has some that work great. What do I use? A mix. I have a couple Laundry Tarts old school ones that allow you to add scented sticks, as well as their newer blue ones. I also have a few wool balls (that usually get stolen by my son and used as toys)
Cloth Diaper Safe Creams. While cloth babies are reportedly less likely to have rash issues, I would say that rashes happen to everyone at one point or another. Unfortunately, a lot of the common creams on the market aren’t safe for use with cloth diapers. Any zinc based cream (opaque white creams) create a seriously bad residue which basically kills the absorbency of cloth. There are many “safe for cloth” creams out there, however I would warn that any cream used to excess will eventually create a residue on cloth. Some people opt to switch temporarily to disposable diapers when having to use cream, just to be safe. What do I use? I have tried a ton of different creams. Some of my favourite cloth safe creams are Eco Chic Movement, CJ’s, Substance, Pea in a Pod and Earth Mama Angel Baby.
Cloth Wipes. While I personally just kept using disposable wipes, I know some people find it to be a pain to use cloth and then still have to find a garbage to toss your wipes. You can either make or buy cloth wipes. Some people use them dry, others make their own wipe solution or buy some for easier clean up. Some people just use water. What do I use? When L has had a bad flu and a sore bum, I have cut up flannel receiving blankets to make my own. Otherwise, I use Pampers Sensitive disposable wipes because they can be used for EVERYTHING.
Snappis/Fasteners. For those of you that use prefolds, snappis and other similar fasteners have taken the place of the old school safety pins. Safe to use on baby, they hold your prefolds closed snugly against baby for easier diapering. Bonus side use: They are AMAZING for getting fuzz out of velcro. What do I use? Snappis.
Disposable Liners. Disposable liners are awesome for bigger kiddos, when poop becomes more solid. Basically, you put down the small sheet (that kind of looks like a dryer sheet) on the middle of the diaper where the business happens, and when baby poops, you can just toss the poopy liner and not have to worry about scraping or spraying the poop off the diaper itself. They allow liquids through, so they don’t inhibit absorbency of pee however this means they are useless for young baby poops, as they tend to be mostly liquid anyway. What do I use? Nothing. I have no problem scraping and shaking poop off diapers.
Other Liners and Boosters. You can get washable cloth liners to help protect your diapers from stains and for easier poop removal. Fleece liners are great for more solid poops as poop tends not to stick to them, which allows you to just shake them above the toilet and the poop falls right off. They are also a great option for those moments when you use a safe diaper cream but want to be extra sure that your diapers don’t get any build up. Boosters are for those that haven’t found the answer to their problems with different inserts. They allow you to add an extra layer to your diaper for extra absorbency. Great for older kiddos, heavy wetters, long trips and over nights. What do I use? I haven’t used any other liners or boosters so far, but I did pick some up for Baby M to try. I have a few hemp boosters and a couple Apple Cheeks fleece liners.
Diaper Sprayer. So, the thing with poopy diapers is that you need to scrape/shake the more solid bits of poop off the diaper before washing. A great product that has arrived on the scene to help this unpleasant task is the diaper sprayer. It’s basically a little hose and nozzle that attaches directly to your toilet. You use it to spray the poop right off the diaper into the toilet for easy hands-off removal before tossing the diaper in the wet bag. Woo! What do I use? I picked up a cheapy sprayer, but it turns out our plumbing and toilet at not sprayer friendly. I’ve heard the BumGenius one is great.
Stripping Agents. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, you end up with your diapers repelling or a nasty stink that your regular wash routine just can’t seem to kill. There are a few products out there that promise to strip your diapers of all residues. Some people swear by RLR, others prefer just adding vinegar to their routine. It’s really up to you. What do I use? Well, I picked up a bunch of cloth second hand for Baby M. Just to be safe, I decided to do a disinfecting soak. I used a bleach bath and picked up some RLR so that I can do a stripping if I notice any repelling. I have also heard that vinegar works great, which I also intend to try down the road.
There you have it. There are always new products popping up, but these are the ones you are most likely to come across. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a line. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful as you consider starting your cloth diaper journey.
The rest of the Baby Basics Series:
- Hospital Bag
- New Baby Checklist Part 1: The Basics
- New Baby Checklist Part 2: The Checklist
- Cloth Diapering Part 1: Why Cloth
- Cloth Diapering Part 2: What is it?
- Cloth Diapering Part 3: What else?
- Cloth Diapering Part 4: How do I cloth?