Lately, many moms have asked me, why cloth diaper? My reasons are simple. I'm not out to save the world, but my children's skin.
I found out the hard way that even using disposables part time in the beginning caused problems for my son. His skin is extremely sensitive and the newborn sensitive diapers from a name brand company caused a nasty rash on him. It looked like a combination between chemical burn and yeast. We treated this rash like it was yeast for over a month with no relief. Every diaper change caused screaming in pain. Finally, I decided to go cloth full time, no being lazy and using a disposable. Within a week his rash was completely gone. I was thrilled!
About a month or so later, I placed him in a loose disposable after a bath while I finished my shower. He was clean and dry when I did this. He sat in this diaper for less than 45 minutes and did not pee or poop in that time, but he developed an over 2 inch spot of rash just from bring in contact with the diaper. I was so frustrated at that point. Why would a product made for babies be so harsh? I called the company and complained. They sent me two coupons to buy more of their diapers. How is that a solution? They never even sent the package to return a diaper to them for further testing.
I gave away the diapers to a mom that could use them, including a case of wipes that we never opened. I warned her that the diapers had caused chemical burns and to toss them if that happened.
Since then we have been using cloth diapers. My next obstacle was a vacation where I couldn't wash my cloth. I hunted for months to find a disposable that my son could tolerate. Even the chemical free, plant based diapers cause a rash with him, but it took longer. We still changed him as needed or every 2 hours during the day, whichever came first. I was pleased with these diapers, but at $80 a month, it's not a realistic option for most families with sensitive skin issues.
So my love of using cloth diapers has continued. When I became pregnant with our second child I couldn't wait to buy more cloth! I was patient though and took advantage of Black Friday deals online. My cloth stash grew by 5 more covers. After that I found a cover on a local swap group for $8. I couldn't resist! I've also added a dozen newborn prefolds, 10 premium infant prefolds, and one snappi. For my son, I have also ordered three cloth diaper trainers.
When a mom asks me what diapers they should buy, it's a difficult question to answer. There are many styles of cloth diapers out there, and what works for one person, may not work for another. The best answer in my opinion is, get a diaper trial. Nicki's Diapers offers a great one. Then order one of each diaper that interests you. Try them, and if you don't like them, you wash them and send them back for store credit.
The styles of cloth diapers are as follows:
Flats - large flat fabric that you fold up to then fasten around your child using either a pin, snappi, boingo, or just use the cover to hold in place. This is the cheapest option out there.
Prefolds - similar to flats, but they are sewn so the fabric is in a rectangle with more absorbency in the middle. They still require some folding, fastener, and a cover.
AIO (all in one) - this is a diaper where the cover and soaker pad (absorbent part) are sewn together. Many are one size fits most. They generally fit babies from 10-30ish pounds. They are easy to use and many daycares will willingly use them. The downside is they take longer to dry than most diapers.
AI2 (all in two) - this is a diaper cover that has replaceable absorbent inserts. With these diapers you can purchase less covers and more of the absorbent pads. This is more economical as the cover is the expensive part. They generally wash very well, but some daycares are resistant to them. It takes practice to replace an insert and not touch it much. You always wash the cover after a poop. These covers are usually one size.
Pocket Diapers - these popular diapers are the most like a disposable in how they appear. You stuff the absorbent inserts between the water resistant shell and a stay dry fabric. You can adjust the absorbency by adding more inserts and different kinds of inserts. These diapers are generally well liked by daycares. You wash the whole diaper after a pee or poop. These come in one size or sized.
Fitted - this is a diaper that needs a cover. The whole thing is absorbent, like a prefold or flat, but it is diaper shaped. Many have snaps and some even have extra soakers you can add to them. These are usually sized diapers.
Hybrid - these are very similar to an all in two diaper. You can get sized or one size. These diapers have the option to use a reusable cloth insert, or disposable. These are popular with people because you can make a choice which you will use. The disposable inserts aren't cheap though, so I don't suggest using them all the time.
Then many people ask which is better, snaps or Aplix (Velcro). This is a preference. Personally, I like snaps. You don't have to worry about them wearing out and the fit is the same each time. Some daycares will only use aplix. You need to find out what is best for you and your family.
In addition to diapers, you will also need a diaper sprayer once the baby starts solids. It's is the easiest way to deal with poop. You spray the poop into the toilet and flush.
Cloth wipes are very nice to use. You can toss them in with the diaper laundry and you reuse them. You can use plain water, or a wipe solution with them.
Disposable liners are something many people like, but I don't advise their use. They catch the poop so it's easily removed and you flush them both. They are advertised as flushable, but they don't break down in water easily. My parents had a clog in their septic lines because of these, so we no longer use them. Many sewer companies also ask that you don't use them since they don't break up like toilet paper does.
Reusable liners are something I recently fell in love with. They are a piece of fleece that you lay on the diaper. The pee goes through and the poop sits on top. You take the liner, dunk or spray off the poop and wash with the diapers. This was great when traveling! They are also great if you need to use a cream that is not cloth safe. However, if you use them with non cloth safe cream, you need to wash them separate from your cloth diapers.
Cloth safe creams - Just because cloth has less rashes, doesn't mean you will never need a cream. There are several cloth safe ones out there, but be careful. Some include zinc in them which will eventually build up in your diaper and need stripping out. My favorite is u refined coconut oil. It's easily purchased,
inexpensive, a solid under 75 degrees Fahrenheit, melts easily in the hand, and washes out clean. It also has many beneficial properties to it.
Many people then ask about the water used to wash the diapers. Remember, water is a renewable resource. My wash routine is simple, warm water wash no soap, long wash with soap and Calgon to help my hard water and extra rinse, hang my covers and pail liner, wash and rinse until soap suds are gone. Then I tumble dry my inserts and wipes. I wash every 2 - 2 1/2 days with my toddler. With a newborn I'll be washing daily again, but that will slow down soon enough.