How to cloth diaper: A little guidance

I see a lot of parents on forums asking for advice on cloth diapering, and thought I’d add my 2 cents.

I started cloth diapering after I had my son. I have an 8yr old daughter, who I had at the age of 18, but I was a very uninformed parent. My sister was the last baby in the family, and she is 3.5yrs younger than me, so I had no experience with parenting or child rearing. Therefore, I also was not able to make informed choices, or even had the sense to begin researching them. I just assumed that if things were made for babies, that they were safe.

My friends- they’re not safe. Diapers cause infertility and illness, my kid’s baby shampoo has pot in it (actually they found out it was a false positive, but STILL, there’s probably cancer crap in it), there’s chemicals in formula like arsenic, shots are causing autism and God knows what else. Sweet Lord, it makes me want to run for the hills.

Or my apartmentstead. Now you get it, right?

So long story short, and about 4yrs of back issues of Mothering Magazine (thanks, Stacy), plus my Holistic Health certificate, and I decided I’m going to breastfeed and cloth diaper my son. And skip the deadly vaccines, kthanx.

But I’m POOR. I single parent both of my kids. And when I researched cloth diapers, they were so expensive. I decided to get prefolds- the square things that you tri-fold (overlap), and then pin and put a diaper cover over. I (and by *I*, I mean my very generous and gracious gram) made some covers out of a pattern I bought online, some PLU, and some flannel. I made a couple myself, but pregnancy had me wiped. FYI, the materials cost almost as much as buying cloth diapers.

So you can see why that was a fail, right? It cost just as much, was work, and truth be told, was just not appropriate for my heavy-wetting breastfed male baby. Yes, I tried hemp inserts. Fail.

Then I got some cloth diapers at the consignment shop, but had no idea what stripping was, or that they needed to be stripped. Many leaks later, I figured it out, but turns out, my son had narrow legs. Stubborn, I set these leakers aside for toilet training, because their 2-snap sides would make good pullups. These were Blueberry diapers, and though they retail for about $26/ea, I got them for $8/ea and they were in great condition.

The Blueberry diapers- colorful, but so are Fuzzibunz

I didn’t actually hit the sweet spot until I got some Fuzzibunz. Friends- there really is no comparison here. I’m so satisfied with this product that I’m not even going to talk about other diapering adventures. My aforementioned homesteading cousin literally has a diaper collection of a billion different types of diapers, and even SHE says Fuzzibunz are the best. They come in 2 types- the perfect size lasts from birth to toilet training, and the one size is formed per weight. If you have a narrow legged baby, I recommend the one-size.

The Fuzzibunz factory seconds- have pointed “tabs” and run slightly smaller

Yes, they’re slightly expensive, though not nearly as bad as other models that I’m not going to mention. A quick look at the site and you’ll faint at the care instructions, but fear not- we’ll talk about that. And how did I afford these little beauties? I bought FACTORY SECONDS! See, Fuzzibunz come with a warranty (kid you not), and unless they’re perfect, they are factory seconds, which don’t come with the warranty, but come with a lower price. I didn’t care- I’m not even sure if these will be used after my son. So I set aside my meager tax return, and BAM- I have a diapering system. In hind sight, had I known what I was doing, I probably would have bought them with the warranty, however.

The top is the Blueberry construction, and the bottom is the Fuzzibunz. Both have an insert.

So there are a few things you need to know when you cloth diaper. The first is that you must know how to care for them. You’re going to need a diaper sprayer– it connects easily to the outside of your toilet, and you’ll need it to spray off your diapers. You’ll also need a pail to deposit the wet and hosed off diapers in. I have a pail for the hosed off diapers, and a wet bag for pee diapers. You can buy both of these online. You’ll also need to make sure you have the right soap. Here’s a chart for some ideas, or you can use my homemade laundry soap recipe. Never use fabric softener on your cloth diapers. Fuzzibunz also says that you should not use bleach, and I concur because bleach is toxic.

Sometimes, diapers get odors. This is usually caused by diapers sitting too long or buildup. Wash your diapers at least every other day. Do not put more than 15 or so diapers in a load of wash. I wash my diapers twice, and on the second cycle, add a few drops of tea tree oil (for disinfectant) and a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap. The homemade laundry soap works great because it has Borax in it for whitening, and washing powder in it as a laundry booster. Don’t worry about whitening- diapers whiten naturally in the sun. The tea tree oil should disinfect if the odor issue is caused by mildew or bacteria, but if not, you might have to strip your diapers. Here are some ideas how to do that, but I prefer Calgon, and then I run the diapers through another wash cycle to make sure they’re extra free of chemicals. Like Calgon.

I also make my own wipes. I put a bunch of terrycloth baby washcloths in a glass jar with water and add a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap. A doctor once told me that soap really isn’t necessary, and come to think of it, if I put soap on my privates a couple times a day, I’d be raw. But I also don’t sit in my own filth.

Change your baby every 1.5 to 2hrs. This prevents leaks and diaper rash. Despite the age, babies should never be in a soiled diaper longer than that, and its actually the law for daycare facilities.

When you travel, bring your wipes in a small container or bag, and bring a small wet bag. You can hose off your diapers when you get home. If you’re going to be gone for a very long time, I recommend bleach free disposables by Seventh Generation. They’re made of organic cotton and are biodegradable. I don’t recommend them for long term use because they’re still trash, they come in a plastic package, and they aren’t as absorbent.

But they’re also really good for when baby has a rash and needs diaper cream. NEVER use diaper cream on your cloth diapers, because the purpose of diaper cream is to create a moisture barrier. Doing that to a cloth diaper would prevent the diaper from being absorbent. You can add a small cloth between the baby and the diaper, or use the disposables. “Cloth diaper friendly” diaper creams are a gimmick.

Swim diaper by Bummis

I also recommend these as swim diapers. At first, I was perplexed by swim diapers. I’m just going to say it- swim diapers aren’t to absorb pee, they’re to keep poo from getting into pools. If your child poos in this swim diaper, just rinse it off (make sure it gets a wash later). I often just send my son to the beach in his regular cloth diapers, as he doesn’t much immerse himself in the water.

And there you have it. My 411 on cloth diapering.


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