September 3, 2013

If I could cloth diaper all over again...

As a part of their series "If I could cloth diaper all over again..." Padded Tush Stats has invited me to share with you my thoughts!

First, let me give you a little insight into my life. I am a mother of two (an amazing three year old boy and an adorable 6 month old girl), and married to my fantastic husband/best friend for 7 years. We've been cloth diapering since our son was 3 months old (my idea, but hubby is gracious enough to go along with it as long as I do the washing). We both work full time (40+ hrs) outside the home. Both of our kids attend a childcare center while we work our 9-5's.

Given our situation and experience with all kinds of diapers over the years here's what I would do if I could cloth diaper all over again:

1. I would stick with disposables for the first 6 weeks to few months. I prefer one-size AI2's and AIO's (more on that later) and those didn't generally fit either baby until they were almost 10 lbs. Also, as a new mom (especially as a first time mom) I didn't need another new thing to put pressure on myself about. The points about needing to figure out something new or having laundry to wash are debatable (because disposable diapers were new to me, too, and my son generated plenty of laundry from blowouts in disposables).
   What I really did: this. I wanted to do a cloth diaper trial, but more towards the end of my maternity leave when I was feeling settled (and recovered from stitches!) and ready to take on a little experiment. So in the meantime we used the diapers from the hospital and the diapers gifted to us from our baby shower. And then some more diapers :) We emptied that diaper genie 2-3 times a week!

2. I would do a diaper trial. I'd look around for a trial that appealed to me (like those from Modern Cloth, Jillian's Drawers, and Kissed By the Moon) while I was still pregnant, and contact them to set up a trial for when baby approached 10 lbs. but also (hopefully) I'd still be home on my maternity leave to get acquainted with the process. I would get enough diapers to really try this full time (24 or more diapers, to get me through two days before doing laundry).
   What I really did: a mini cloth diaper trial. I was fortunate enough to live a short drive from the then-home-based Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique. Beth helped me choose a small sample of diapers to cover the basic types (prefold+cover, pocket, AIO) but I was only willing to fork out the cash for 4 diapers. Most diaper trial state up front that you get all or most of your money back at the end of the trial, so there is really no risk even in the event that you find you don't like cloth diapering at all. It's key to note that you really need a pretty full 'stash' of diapers to get a feel for the real diapering process. I only had 4, so that only got me through half a day, and then I felt like I was wasting water and energy(even with a small load) to wash those four diapers and get them dry to use again. And it seemed like I couldn't really fall in love with one type or another because of how infrequently I used them. Luckily I was still hooked on cloth and decided to move forward with it.

3. Stock up on your favorites. But not too much. After the diaper trial, I would look for upcoming sales or discount deals to get 20-24 diapers (many stores offer store credit and discounts from their trials). You'll need this many to keep on with the routine you developed from your trial. I stress favoriteS because you and your partner may like different types of diapers - get both if you don't want to have to change all the diapers. You may like one type for at home, another for out and about and still another for naps and nighttime. Get a small variety.
   What I really did: added a few here and there when there were deals ands sales. At one point I did buy 10 of the same diaper through a website with a pretty good deal. They were our favorites for a while, but I am finding that with baby number two they aren't (or at least right now they aren't...).

4. Know ahead of time that you WILL want more. It just happens. Your second baby is a girl, so you need more pink and feminine prints! Baby is now walking or having solid poops, so a style you used to like now isn't the best choice. A new diaper or print comes out that you just HAVE to try or need for a special event or holiday. Figure out where to sell off or trade in or donate your least favorites.
   What I really did: slowly add to my initial collection of 4 diapers. Painstakingly slow. It is hard to pony up that much money all at once, but retrospectively, I knew I was going to use cloth, and could do the math to justify it. I still add here or there, but have promised my husband I will only do so if they are free... from winning a contest or using store rewards points).

5. Get a few 'extras'. Get some CJ's butter in your favorite scent (Irish Tweed for a boy, and I am still deciding my favorite for a girl - probably lavender). Get a few wetbags (see below for my picks). Cut up a receiving blanket to make 16+ cloth wipes (we dont' send these to school, so this is plenty for evenings and weekends). Get at least one swim diaper for each size, but buy these as you go, since you won't know how big your baby will be each summer. My favorites are the bummis swimmi and the Little Bee Co Aqua Bee. But even a spare diaper cover works, too (just beware that chlorine may wear on the PUL, and ocean water may discolor anything white!)
   What I really did: pretty much this. I went with only one medium wetbag and one pail liner until my second baby was born, but now I have a couple more. I still use one for water day at school for my toddler or to keep a spare set of clothes in the car for my mostly-potty-trained toddler.

Maybe you were expecting me to say, "I would buy x diaper" so then you could go buy it. OK, then. After having tried more than 13 different types of diapers, I feel like I do have some favorites. If it were up to just me, I would probably buy 10-12 Softbum Echo's or Grovia AI2's with 15-20 or so extra inserts (so 25-32 total inserts). And I would be done with diapers (unless I found I had a heavy wetter, in which case I'd add a few bamboo inserts for nighttime. Also I would get two Planetwise medium wet/dry bags, and one large hanging wet/dry bag (ours hangs just right off one of the bedposts on the crib, near the changing table). I'd also cut up a receiving blanket to make some cloth wipes (I did finally do this about 6 months ago - but I could have been saving tons of $$ if I'd done this sooner!)

If you are asking my husband, he would just as easily use disposable, but if he had to choose a cloth diaper, he likes the TotsBots EasyFits the best. He doesn't like to mess with matching pieces together, and likes that he knows how to easily add an insert to it for nighttime.

And if I was a SAHM (and/or only used cloth at home) I'd go with prefolds and covers. They were intimidating to me at first, but now I find them really simple (read about them here). And they are cheap! I recommend everyone keep at least three prefolds and one cover around... just to have.

If you want to more about what diapers I send to daycare see this post: Cloth Diapers for a Working Mom: What I send to Daycare.

** This post contains affiliate links **j

Cloth Diapers for a Working Mom: What to Send to Daycare?

Thanks for asking, " What kind of diapers do you send to daycare?"

I have all kinds of diapers, but only so many total, so I eventually have to send whatever I have on hand. However, when they are all clean and I can choose here is what I like to pack in baby's bag:

1. AI2's - these are my favorite diaper to use, period, at the moment, but I really like them for daycare because at school they function as an AIO (see #2), but at home, I can just snap out in the inners and snap in new ones. Boom. Ready to go for the next day. [This is for wet diapers. Poop diapers usually require that the cover be washed, too]

2. AIO's -  these are all one piece and function most like a regular disposable diaper. I feel like this makes the transition for my baby's caregivers easier (the are changing lots of other disposables over the course of the day) and there is nothing to get lost or confused. They are also easy for me on the back end to just toss in the wetbag at home or wash.

3. Pockets - I send these when all the other options are dirty. I think pockets are bulky for daytime and kind of a pain. At home, I prefer a prefold/cover combo to pockets. But I think they are easier than prefolds at daycare, so occasionally I'll send these.
my favorites: little bee co (love their mission!), Rumparooz

What else I send:

cloth-safe diaper cream - i only send a sample-sized jar. my kids don't seem to use much, and i am sure to give her a good slather in the morning with her first diaper. I can easily refill the small jar from my bigger one at home. But I think its fine to send whatever kind you prefer (spray, etc.) as long as its cloth safe. I like CJ's BUTTer (especially in the Irish Tweed scent!).

a wet bag - actually we send a medium sized wet/dry bag that seems to hold 4 or 5 diapers. We take it home each day with the dirties and send it back the next day with clean-ies. We have two of these in rotation (and 1 large bag at home to collect all the diapers until wash day). I like the ones from Planet Wise.

back up disposable diapers - I think this serves three purposes. a) there are extra special days where my baby goes through more than the 6 diapers I send (especially when teething!) and these are easy to just keep at school so I can make sure most of my diapers are in regular rotation. b) the kids get to do special art projects sometimes and school, and usually are only in a diaper or have on a smock. event though the materials are usually washable, I'd rather risk a 'sposie just in case. But also c) I think it lets the teachers know I am not THAT crazy (no offense to anyone that disagrees with me!) that I think disposable diapers are the devil (however the disposables I do send are eco-friendly... (and these Honest diapers are SUPER cute).

* when baby starts having solid bowel movements, you may choose to use disposable diaper liners (I like the smaller version of these TweedleBugs brand). If so, I recommend you pre-line the diapers you send with them. The goal is to make this process as easy as possible on the caregivers as we want their attention on the right things (safety, etc of all babies in the room).

What I DON'T send:
prefolds/flats + covers (unless I put one on as the first diaper of the day at home. Beware of the snappi though. We've been skipping it lately, but I know it can be tricky for those who aren't familiar with it, and I have seen little cuts occur with them). As I said, I really like to use these at home, but I don't think they are a good fit for daycare.

regular diaper cream. NOT EVER. Unless you have a really bad diaper rash or your doctor has prescribed it (in which case you are using disposables along with it), just don't even go there and let there be confusion about what to use with your cloth diapers. Regular diaper cream can ruin cloth.

Side note, some feedback from the occasional "grandma-care" is that she prefers velcro diapers because the snaps are harder for her to work with and hurt her hands.

A great cloth-diapers-in-daycare resource:

j* this post contains affiliate links *