Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Best Cloth Diapers and Supplies to Buy
I always knew I wanted to do cloth diapers, to save money and avoid sending a mountain of disposables to the landfill. My husband and I both have sensitive skin, and we figured our baby would too, so cloth diapers were definitely the way to go.
I spent hours researching what kind to get and how to do everything right, and I think I made some choices, because I love the cloth diapers and would not go back to disposables. I love how they have worked so far. I started my baby in the cloth diapers at about 3 weeks old, when he was big enough and also done with really icky early meconium diapers. There is a trial and error period where you figure out how to wash and use the diapers properly, but if you are patient and persistent, this is a great system. It is good for the baby's skin, you have less chance for diaper rash, you will save money, and it's better for the environment.
Most people that ask me about my cloth diapers have the same questions...
Don't they leak? No, they don't leak if you wash them properly and they fit the baby (if you wash them wrong they can actually repel liquid). The new systems are nothing like the cloth diapers and plastic pants of the past. They are designed and fitted well. The microfiber liners are super absorbent, and the shells are PUL material, which keeps moisture in. Plus, you can get diaper doubler liners if you need more absorbency for a heavy wetter. The only time I had leaking was before I figured out my washing system, or if I went too long between diaper changes.
Isn't it Gross? I don't know how it's any more gross that what you deal with anyway. You may have slightly more contact with poop and pee, but I don't think it's that bad. Breastfed poop is water soluble so it rinses right out, and later on when it's more solid it comes right off. I use a dry pail with an open top in a closet and it's not noticeably smelly, even in summer. I wash every two days and use baking soda deodorizers, which helps with odors.
Isn't it a pain to wash them all the time? Except for when travelling, I don't find the washing routine to be too much trouble. Once you get in the habit, it's just something you do, and you get pretty fast. It helps if your washing machine has a pre-wash setting, and if you have a drying rack or clothesline for the covers. I suppose if you were working full time it would be more difficult, but I am home most of the time, so it doesn't upset my schedule.
What about rash? Diaper rash is far less common with cloth diapers, and if they do get rash it can be easily remedied by changing how you wash or adjusting sizes. The only times my baby had diaper rash was after I used disposables on him for vacation and when he was ready to move up the the next size adjustment and needed more room. If you do have rash, you're not supposed to used diaper creams unless you add a disposable liner, because they can cause the diapers to repel liquid. I was able to use a little olive oil on the rash overnight without any problems.
Aren't they bulky? The one size adjustable diapers are more bulky on a smaller baby, but they work great, and the cost savings and comfort benefit more than make up for any appearance problem. The baby doesn't care and I think they are cute with the different colors they offer. They can be work with just a shirt in the summer and look very cute and comfortable. The Flip system is probably the trimmest diaper option if that concerns you.
Aren't the fancy ones expensive?
You can do your own calculation here. I spent about $300 total on all my diapers and accessories, and compared the cost of disposables, I break even after 6 months of using cloth diapers. I will save over $700 if I use them for a year and a half. If I use them for a second child, I will save another $1000!
After reading countless reviews, I decided on the BumGenius brand of diapers by CottonBabies. They have great information on their website and you can sometimes get pretty good deals when they have sales or when they sell seconds.
Within the BumGenius line there are several styles to choose from. I went with a combination of the Flip and the BumGenius 4.0. I also picked up some used BumGenius 3.0 (older style). They are all adjustable one size diapers, which will allow me to use them from tiny baby up to potty training. I will outline the pros and cons of each below.
Snaps vs Hook and Loop
I chose mostly the snap style over the hook and loop because I felt they would last longer through washings, but I did get a few hook and loop to make it easier on dad and babysitters. I did learn a trick for tiny babies that makes the diaper fit better over the umbilical stump, and it works best with the hook and loop. You simply fold down the top and fasten with just the tabs (there is a youtube video I'm sure if you need more details). I heard in other reviews that bigger babies can figure out how to remove the hook and loop diapers easier.
BumGenius 3.0 and bumGenius 4.0
The 3.0 version is the older style, and from what I can tell it is slightly larger, which makes the 4.0 a better fit for smaller babies. The fabric on the 3.0 seems a little different, but I haven't noticed any difference in performance. I use the 4.0's for overnight, because I can stuff them with an extra liner so it lasts all night. It takes more time compared to the Flips to stuff the diapers after washing, and unstuff after use, but you get used to it. They are quicker than the Flips however, when changing diapers because they are all ready to go. This makes them more 'daddy friendly'. The microfiber one size liners are very absorbent, and easy to use with the snaps to adjust sizes. They also wash up and dry faster than the Flip liners.
Flip Diaper System
The Flip system was just released when I started shopping, and I thought it was a good option to try. The liner is separate from the PUL cover. The real benefit to the Flip system is that you can reuse the liner if you just have a wet diaper. This means less expense because you could potentially get by with 6 liners ($10 or so each) and a couple dozen liners ($3-4 each). With the 4.0 diapers ($15-18 each) you need a new diaper for each change. You can get even more economical with liners and Cotton Prefold Diapers as liners. I do like the Stay Dry Liners thought, they are very absorbent and soft. The liners are a little more difficult to get clean and dry compared to the 4.0's, but they hold more liquid. The Flips could also be more of a problem with wiggly babies, since there is nothing holding the liner in place besides flaps they are tucked into. The Flip also offers Disposable Diaper Inserts for convenience, which I think could be useful for travelling.
Both styles are great in different ways, and I'm glad to have both options in my stash. There are other options offered by Cottonbabies including an organic cotton diaper, and many other brands including Fuzzibunz, Thirsties, gDiapers, and more.
My next post will be about the best and most cost effective diapering accessories, including diaper sprayers, cloth wipes, pail liners, and detergents.