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A Year in Cloth Diapers

Feb15

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Hey Amy,

I’m pregnant with my first baby *squeee!*

Originally we planned on putting money aside each paycheck to stock up on diapers, and later in the pregnancy actually stocking the house with them. (My friend wrote me a list of how many of what sizes to have. yay!) but recently I have spent late nights- until my eyes feel like they’re peeling out of my head- researching what cloth diapers we might choose. (I read about the cloth for a long time before we got pregnant. mentioned it to my husband and that went out the window. But since I have shown him a video and the benefits, and the PRICE. He is all about letting me make that decision.)

I know that people all have their preferences. I read through your three or four articles about your cloth nappy experience and bumGenius over Fuzzi Bunz. BUT Fuzzi Bunz now has a new diaper – and it seems to cover all the things that you preferred about bumGenius. *proceeds to scratch eyes out- aaah what if I pick wrong?! what if I hate them to begin with?!*

I don’t know if it makes any difference on the choice of WHY you go for cloth diapers, I’m all about the fact that it’s ohmygod those disposables are expensive! and because I like the idea of little to no rashes on their sweet little buns.

Also, do you use disposable wipes? Do you have an amazing washing machine? I’m limited to a European washer/dryer combo. Oy vey. which are small and.. not like the best things in the world. On average, how many diapers will a newborn go through a day? One cloth diaper website is telling me to expect only five diaper changes, but that seems like too little?

Thank you!
I seriously am having dreams about diapers now…

Okay, breathe! BREATHE! Welcome to the absolute worst part of cloth diapering. I know, because I was there. The awful, overwhelming, eye-twitching comparison shopping and conflicting advice and four hundred slightly different diaper styles and colors and package deals and then there’s the DETERGENT! WHAT IF I BUY THE WRONG DETERGENT? AAAaaeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiii!

So I’ve now been cloth diapering for a full year now. I’ve lived and learned and loved and grown as a person and all that. My opinions currently look something like this:

1) My Fuzzi Bunz were prone to leaks because they were too big. I’d purchased Mediums, per their size chart. Ezra was 15 pounds, and the diapers seemed to fit fine on the tightest snap setting. After a few months, the leaking problem mysteriously stopped. The only thing that had changed was Ezra’s weight. While I would describe him as pretty average-sized, his thighs are not particularly thunderous, so it seems like he wasn’t really ready for the Medium size until he was closer to 20 pounds.

2) The Fuzzi Bunz snaps are holding up better than the bumGenius velcro. I will likely send the BGs off to someone crafty on Etsy and get them converted to snaps later this year. This costs a couple bucks per diaper, plus shipping and your time and all of that. (This is the ONLY wear and tear complaint I have about any of the diapers — after a full year of constant use and a bajillion washings, everything else looks practically new, save for a little staining on some inserts.) Part of our problem is that my husband never freaking remembers to use the laundry tabs before washing the diapers, no matter how many times I remind him, oh my GOD. This means they often emerge from the wash entangled and connected, which certainly doesn’t help the lifespan of the velcro.

3) I was thoroughly disappointed with Gro Baby diapers. I wanted to love them, oh, I really did. They are adorable diapers. The idea is that although a single diaper has a higher price point (around $25 for one cover, insert and booster pad), you can reuse the covers and only change the insert during the day. Well. Except that after you unsnap a urine-soaked insert…the cover SMELLS LIKE PEE. I don’t know if I have a Major Pee-er or something, but there was just no way I ever felt good about reusing that cover more than two changes in a row. And forget about poop. Poop will ALWAYS spread beyond the insert and get on the cover, even with a liner. So basically…you really need just as many of these diapers as with any diapering system, which means the higher cost per diaper is a dealbreaker. Plus, the inserts take longer to dry.

4) Washing cloth diapers in my mother-in-law’s uber-fancy stylish-looking high-efficiency washer is a pain in the butt, and I prefer my ancient top-loader. Cold soak, hot wash, two rinses. Half scoop of Charlie’s Soap. Occasionally I wash the inserts separately with a smidgen of bleach to combat any staining or stink build-up.

5) We use cloth wipes, as well. If you do cloth wipes, I recommend splurging on a warmer. (We have this one.) It keeps the wipes warm and wet, making them not very different from disposable wipes at all. We also use the bumGenius Bottom Cleaner spray.

6) Cloth diapers rule. Still. Again.

So! What does all this mean for you, dear panicked questioner? First, fear not about your washer and dryer — they’ll be just fine. Likewise, YOU’LL be fine with whatever diapers you go with. There will be pros and cons and stuff you like and stuff you don’t. The new one-size Fuzzi Bunz are probably great! The sized ones are too! So are bumGenius! I don’t really recommend the Gro Baby but whatever! I’m sure other people have had great success with them!
Are you having a shower? Find a cloth diaper site that offers a registry and toss a few of each brand on there! When people ask what you need, politely request a gift certificate for your nappy fund. Then fill out your collection from there. I think five changes a day for a newborn is indeed too low — more like eight to 10, honestly. (They poop EVERY TIME they eat, and they eat every couple hours, so…yes. Plan on 10 a day, at first.) Five changes is what you can expect from an older baby — that’s about where we are now. For maximum cost savings, you can buy secondhand diapers, or skip the fancy pocket diapers and do prefolds with covers. We always keep a small package of cheap store-brand disposables (I like Target Up & Up) on hand in case of emergency, like a broken washer or travel or NO POWER FOR FOUR DAYS. I’m a die-hard cloth user, but I’m not a moron.

Let’s face facts: diapers are expensive, no matter what option you go with. Cloth diapers have the higher upfront investment (and endless choices and accessories) that can make them seem more daunting than they actually are. Just buy some. If you’re doing too much wash and need more, buy a few more, of the same brand or a different one. You’ll probably have a favorite, but that doesn’t render your less-favorite diapers to be useless and unusable and DIAPER DISASTER. (We still use that Gro Baby diaper, though not overnight.) If I were preparing to cloth diaper a newborn, I’d probably go for the same half-FB and half BG set-up, both in the one-size styles. I just like them both, for different reasons and purposes. It’s kind of like debating between Huggies and Pampers. Everybody has their preference and loyalty, but in the end, they’re all just freaking DIAPERS.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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52 Responses to “A Year in Cloth Diapers”

  1. Natalie Feb 15 at 12:17 pm Reply Reply

    We did a diaper service for the first three months which was FANTASTIC for the newborn bazillion-diapers phase, but for baby #2, we’ll probably just buy an extra couple dozen prefolds, then switch to the more expensive pockets when we’re only changing a half-dozen times a day. (At 7 months, we still use prefolds during the day along with the pockets and they work perfectly if you can change baby frequently.)
    Although the premium BG & FB diapers are great, there are also a ton of less expensive brands out there that do a great job. I bought bebebums (which may be closing down shop??) at about $13 each and they’ve been GREAT. A friend of mine bought comfyrumps which are amazingly priced & have been working wonderfully for her.

  2. Olivia Feb 15 at 12:38 pm Reply Reply

    We were so lucky to be given (for free) a set of 25 fuzzi bunz. I am so happy that the cloth diaper choice was take out of my hands.
    We have size Small and started using them when my baby was about 4 weeks old (just because we were newbies and didn’t feel ready) and 9 lbls. She is now 10.5 months and almost 18 lbls, and the diapers still fit on the second to smallest snap setting. I try to check her diaper every two hours or so and that keeps leaks to a minimum.
    And remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We use disposables overnight (I’m lazy and don’t want to get up; I also think double stuffing makes the diapers too bulky), and for long days away from the house.

  3. Jesse Feb 15 at 12:40 pm Reply Reply

    re: wipes, I *really* don’t find a warmer to be necessary. We literally just run it under warm/hot water and be done with it. Sometimes I get impatient waiting for the water to turn warm and just use cooler water… it doesn’t seem to make any difference to our baby.
    When we’re out I just pour water from a water bottle onto a wipe.

  4. Elizabeth Feb 15 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve just discovered Blueberry Diapers. They are one size with snaps. They are pretty bulky, but they are super absorbent–we haven’t had any leaks with them. (They are very spendy, though.) I do like my FuzziBunz, and they’ve held up well (used on my first baby, my friend’s baby, and now I have them back for my second). I did buy a couple of their one-size for this baby, and I’m not super impressed so far (although I do like that they’re not so bulky), but maybe when my baby is a little bigger I’ll like them more.
    Jillian’s Drawers lets you sample several different kinds of diapers. I’ve never tried them, but I hear good things.
    Oh, and the apartment where I lived when I had my first baby had a HE washer/dryer, and I preferred that to the old top loader in my current place, so maybe it depends on the person and the specific washer?
    And maybe I’m just not a die-hard cloth diaperer, but definitely have baby disposables to use during the first couple of weeks. Even though my first baby was almost 10 pounds, the FB didn’t really fit her until she was a couple of weeks old. This baby was only 8 but we still switched over to the FB at 2-3 weeks. We had some leaking issues at first, but now at 6 weeks those seem to have gone away. Plus, easy though they are, it’s nice not to have to deal with the wash those first couple of week. And seeing how much garbage the disposables create makes me more glad to be using the cloth.

  5. beth Feb 15 at 1:00 pm Reply Reply

    When we first started with cloth diapers, we had a washer that was literally old as dirt. (Came with our house that was previously inhabited by an elderly woman who had died several years before.)
    Anyway, that washer ruined our diapers a little bit. They still work very well (I use all bumgenius) but many of the the inserts are a dingy gray color and some of them have grease streaks on them. A few of the covers are also dingy.(It also didn’t help that I had neglected to get an additive free detergent for a few months, Doh!) Before and after we upgraded our washer, I tried MANY times to strip them and get them clean to no avail. But like I said they still work.
    If your washer/dryer is small that shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s old, teetering on super old? It might be a good idea to get a new one.

  6. THANK YOU for this post, Amy!
    I’ve already scoured your previous diaper posts, and have decided to go with BumGenius for our first baby (due in early June). But then I read about the GroBaby ones, and felt all “What-if-Amy-likes-those-BETTER?” So now I feel very comfortable in my decision (again).

  7. Ginger Feb 15 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    I found that prefolds and covers were the best for a newborn. They just allow for the tinier size of a newborn, without spending a ton on the pockets or all-in-ones until you need them. I just never got a good fit with my newborn–who was long and skinny–with FB or BG until he passed a higher weight.
    We also splurged on some Kissaluv 0′s for grandparents and such to use with the baby. They’re a little spendier for something that will only be used for, max, a couple of months, but they are super easy.
    Now, with a whopping 5 months of cloth diapering under my belt, I suggest one of the trial programs that some places have–they give you a bunch of different kinds of diapers for a set time period, and that way you can see what works best for YOUR kid. Without the whole OMG what if I choose wrong!!!! thing.

  8. Cynthia Feb 15 at 1:45 pm Reply Reply

    I would recommend before buying any diapers check to see if any local cloth diaper retailers have a diaper trial offer! It allows you to try out several different diapers on your child and decide what is best for you. Everything can be different based on what detergents, washers,size of your baby, and how often or how much work you want to do. We love MotherEase Sandy’s bamboo diapers but they require a seperate cover. Lots of people hate this, we love it! It’s a good idea to try before you buy and then you should love what you buy from day one.

  9. Anna Feb 15 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    Detergent question, Amy!
    You say you use “half a scoop” of the Charlie’s soap. Charlie’s soap doesn’t come with a scoop, though if I remember right it says 1 tablespoon per load. So are you using 1/2 tablespoon?
    Clearly my life depends on if I’m using the right amount of detergent or not.

  10. Megan Feb 15 at 2:11 pm Reply Reply

    I was so there just a few months ago! I planned and planned and read and read…and decided to go with prefolds, snappis and xs thirsties covers because that was really the cheapest option. There are two issues with this that you can’t account for ahead of time: your sweet wonderful, sack of sugar baby and the postpartum zombie monster that you become.
    I found that I was completely overwhelmed right after my baby was born. I had him circumsized and trying to get the prefold on just right while he was screaming about having his diaper changed…and while trying to keep from hurting either the circ or his umbilical stump was just too much. Also, it seemed like I just hovered over the changing table all day as he would pee through a prefold sometimes before I could even get the cover on. So, I stopped and switched to disposables while he was little.
    Recently I switched back to cloth mostly because I was tired of spending money on disposables when I ended up with poop on my lap EVERY SINGLE TIME he went to the bathroom. This time I have a combo of BGs, Happy Heinys, Knickernappies and Rumparooz. So far, I like the HH the best, but I haven’t really given the Rumparooz a fair shake yet. Another thing you can do that is similar to the Gro Baby is to get some gdiaper covers and stuff them with prefolds. It is sort of the same concept of just changing the insert (rather than the whole diaper) and works really well for little babies. We also use cloth wipes, but I just fill an insulated thermos with warm water each morning and just wet the wipe when I need it.
    Bottom line: cloth may be hard with a brandnew baby. There is no shame in using disposables until your baby fits a little better into the one size diapers. Also, you are going to feel just terrible after the baby comes, so if you do find that cloth is initially overwhelming, just try it again once you feel more like a human. I felt like such a failure when cloth didn’t work at first for me, but now with a fat, delicious, hunk of three month old it is working better than I could have hoped.

  11. kenandbelly Feb 15 at 2:18 pm Reply Reply

    Okay, so as someone who has used cloth diapers on both sides of the Atlantic, I just have to say that the European washer/dryer combo means that you’re going to need waaaaaaaaay more than 5 diapers, especially around newborn. If your European machine is like ours and takes 4+ hours to run, your baby could easily go through five diapers in the time it takes a rinse/rinse/wash/dry cycle to finish. You’ll need to start out with more than someone with an American machine will. So… at least 20?
    Also, European machines will just not be able to keep them as white as American ones. Be extra militant about your detergents.

  12. LOL, I know just what you mean! Settling on a system is the hardest part, and some of it depends – as you found – on the baby’s size and shape. Cool post. Cloth rocks, getting ready to diaper my 5th baby in them.

  13. Laurie Feb 15 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    I cloth diapered for a little over a year (until i went back to work) and I loved loved loved Cricket diapers. They have snaps (no velcro) and they worked great. I never had any leaking. If day care would use them I would have definitely continued.

  14. Margie Feb 15 at 2:59 pm Reply Reply

    I also agree that whatever you choose will be what works for you. That said, I’ll give a shout out for the sized Fuzzi Bunz! We used some adorable little Muttaqins newborn for when the baby was brand new because they had a snap down for her cord (which we found used on diaperswappers.com). Since around five weeks or so, though, we’ve been in Small FB, and now Medium FB. We double at night, use cloth wipes and tap water, and are super happy. We use Rockin’ Green soap in our HE machine.
    One note: if you get into this and notice that your diapers are starting to repel, the best fix I’ve found for buildup and stinkies is one I yoinked from diaperswappers.com, which is to put everything in a plastic tub, cover with vinegar, then add a scoop or more of oxyclean and let it sit overnight and bubble and whatever else it does. I had to do this recently and it was magic.

  15. erin Feb 15 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    kenandbelly THANK YOU! so much…
    my european washer/dryer is horrendous. and, as you mentioned 4+ hours to run a cycle, and always meaning that i still have to hang things to finish drying.
    that’s so helpful. :)

  16. HereWeGoAJen Feb 15 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    The makers of BumGenius have come out with two new kinds of diapers. The Flip system seems like it solves some of the problems of the original BG3.0s (like snaps instead of velcro). I think if I were starting over, I’d go with those, but I am still thrilled with my BumGenius diapers.

  17. rkmama Feb 15 at 3:39 pm Reply Reply

    We are at the one year mark of using cloth diapers as well and have had a wonderful experience with bumgenius. I very much agree with Amy as to the wear and tear of the velcro, though. We do religiously use the laundry tabs but they just wear out after so many washings and start to fray and get fuzzy- still very usable but I can see how adding snaps in the future may be a good idea. We have 1 fuzzi bunz which we really like too (only one because we already had more than enough diapers but I NEEDED a red one to match my sons red converse shoes :)).
    Almost everyone I talk to has a different experience and opinion on which diapers work the best, but in the end they all really like cloth diapering so you just need to jump in. You’ll figure out what works best for you…good luck!

  18. Heide Feb 15 at 3:48 pm Reply Reply

    We had a front-loading washer/dryer combo, and they take FOREVER to dry things, so we used pre-folds, with various different brands of covers, so we could air dry them. Saves a lot on the electric bill, too. However, they consistently leaked at night, so we ended up switching to disposables for night time only. Everyone else is right: buy a few different kinds of infant-sized ones, see what you like, and then get more … and then the baby will grow out of them, and you’ll need to size up. Ebay.

  19. JCF Feb 15 at 4:24 pm Reply Reply

    A couple of tips if you have a less than optimal washer/dryer situation:
    -Rockin Green detergent. It is made for cloth and made to be used with only one rinse. I have to use a communal washer that isn’t great, and this is the best detergent for minimal washing.
    -Get a diaper sprayer to attach to your toilet and spray off the dirty diapers, even at the newborn stage. I know they don’t need to be washed off, but again, with a washer that takes forever, you can probably cut the pre-rinse step out if you do the pre-rinsing yourself.
    One size diapers do not fit newborns, even though they claim to start at 7 lbs. Newborns are just too skinny, and like Amy said, too big diapers will leak. I had an 7 lb. baby and an 8 lb. baby and both could start with the one size Bum Genius at about 6-8 weeks, once they plumped up a bit. I highly recommend getting newborn prefolds with XS Thirsties covers, Kissaluvs 0s with XS Thirsties covers, or XS Fuzzi Bunz for the newborn stage. You’ll probably be happy with any of those options, it just depends on how much you want to spend and how simple you want things.
    12 diapers a day, plus a few extras for while you are washing (especially if your washer takes a long time and you have to hang dry) is a good rule of thumb for newborns. If you want to wash every other day, get 24 plus a couple extras. If you want to wash every 3 days, get 36 plus a couple extras.
    Good luck! You can do it!

  20. Kathleen Feb 15 at 4:41 pm Reply Reply

    Funny, I was just thinking about all of the past posts because a year in I’m now at phase 3, buying hemp inserts to contain the copious amounts of night time pee my child apparently produces (note- an $18 investment, but my 20 diapers paid themselves off four months ago..). And trying new detergents (whee) because planet isn’t keeping up with toddler pooh/pee odors…
    Anyway – I echo the previous thoughts: get a sampler, although what fits well at first and what is great later on might be different, so multiple types in the house aren’t a bad thing. I have bumgenius 3.0s, happy heineys, and recently added Gdiaper covers (super cheap off of babysteals.com) with some bumgenius flip liners (per Amy’s post on traveling with cloth). Love all of them for different reasons.
    And NONE of them fit for the first 2 months. Child looked like he was being swallowed by diaper. He was too short, too skinny (esp. the legs…). Embraced the newborn disposables until they started leaking every fluid possible, tried the cloth again, and everything fit and I love the cloth!

    • Fabian Mar 12 at 9:53 am Reply Reply

      i use a w/a fuzzibunz pocekt diaper as a cover. it’s very bulky but i can’t find a diaper cover w/snap buttons the touch tape scratches my son’s belly. i don’t really understand the pocekt diapers either- i think you’re supposed to change the whole diaper maybe the separate insert allows for more customized leakage protection more efficient washing drying? you’ll go thru at least a dozen diapers/day with a newborn. if you get 1-2 dozen prefolds use your diapers as covers you should have enough to only wash diapers every other day: )

  21. Isabel Feb 15 at 5:27 pm Reply Reply

    You know I couldn’t NOT throw in a shout out to gdiapers. While I’ve never used the traditional cloth diapers, I still consider gdiapers in that category.
    Anyway, we’ve been stocking up on them since about 2008. Anytime we get a coupon in the mail for them, we buy another pack. I *hope* this plan works out for us.
    Oh, and thanks to Megan for letting me know it’s okay to use disposable with a newborn. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to deal with cloth in the beginning!

  22. Sally Feb 15 at 5:46 pm Reply Reply

    I am currently washing my FLIP diapers…hope hope hoping that we’ll use them and love them. I am 36 weeks pregnant. Someone recently told me about this trial offer at Jillian’s Drawers. They send you a ton of diapers to try out and you pick the ones you like. You only pay $10 plus anything you decide to keep. Here is a link http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/products/clothdiapers/tryclothfor10/tryclothfor10

  23. Lisa Feb 15 at 6:36 pm Reply Reply

    ditto on the Jillian’s Drawers. They send you 15 or so different kind of diapers for about $110. Its a trial period of 3 weeks, and you can keep all, some or none. If you decide you don’t want to do cloth diapers, you can send them back minus the cost of shipping ($10) (or you can keep the ones you like and send the other back). So for only $10 you can try just about all the popular ones out there. And, if you’re like me and really want to be a cloth diaper person but realize that you just aren’t (just like I really want to be the kind of person who uses Envirosax but in reality am the person who buys Envirosax and always forgets them in the car)…you can send them back, no harm to your wallet.

  24. Beatriz Feb 15 at 6:53 pm Reply Reply

    We use BG in daycare, prefolds on the non-daycare days, and BG at night. Prefolds are much, much easier to care for (including removing the occasional diaper cream, which do not come out of the BGs), and not very hard to use once you get used to it, but I can’t imagine using them at night. With the BGs at night we add extra inserts, which is bulky, but we don’t have to change the diaper during the night at all.
    In the rare occasion there is a leak, I know it’s time to strip the diapers. It took me a while to realize for the first time the diapers had an incredible soap build up; at first I kept increasing the amount of soap because I thought that I was not putting enough in and that’s why the diapers smelt, until I finally opened the machine during the last rinsing cycle and saw the huge amount of soap in the water. I literally ran eight more rinsing cycles until there was no soap left, and the smell/leaking /rash problems were gone.
    Same problem with the velcro of the BGs. I started turning the diapers inside out because I ran out of ideas but that’s extra, unpleasant work and I still get some chains of diapers. Other than that, I love them.
    Lastly, I also don’t see the point of diaper warmers. We used to keep a thermos with warm water to moisten the wipes until we forgot and realized our daughter couldn’t care less. When we go out we take moist wipes in a tupperware. I actually hate it when we have to use the disposable wipes, I always get the feeling they don’t quite clean properly, and I don’t like the smell.

  25. Laura Feb 15 at 7:45 pm Reply Reply

    OK, this may seem like a dumb question, but I can’t seem to figure it out!
    I think we’ve decided to go with prefolds and covers for when the baby is tiny to give him or her a chance to grow into the one-size diapers. If you use a prefold with a cover, do you need snappis? Or do they fit in there, as long as the cover is well-sized?

  26. mir Feb 15 at 8:47 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t try laying the prefold in without snapping until my baby was too big to snappy the newborn prefolds… I’ve NEVER EVER EVER had a leak (prefolds are muy absorbent) BUT they aren’t the best for containing runny breastfed poo. A good cover (thirsties) should handle it and now that she’s on solids it’s not an issue BUT leaky poos made the kissaluvs 0s worth the money (stopped every poo). When she got older and was only pooing once a day (at most) then putting a prefold in wasn’t such a bad thing since there was only a small chance she’d poo through it and so what? Toss the cover in the wash — it’s probably time anyway.
    Long story short– I feel better snappying the prefolds. I imagine it protects the cover better but likely makes no functional difference for a good cover (again, thirsties how I love you). I’m going back to prefolds since the kissaluvs hold onto the solid poos a little too well…

  27. mamaJay Feb 15 at 10:20 pm Reply Reply

    We’re still in the trying phase, and I’m obsessed with researching cloth diapers!!! Thanks for this post. Here is my question:
    I will have to go back to work and I’m not sure that I will be able to wash the diapers every other day. Will I need to buy so many that it will not be cost effective? IS it a ton of work? It sounds daunting.

  28. JCF Feb 15 at 10:53 pm Reply Reply

    @Laura–You don’t technically NEED a Snappi or pins with prefolds and covers, you can just trifold the prefold and lay it in the cover. However, newborn poo is crazy explosive, and poo would get on the cover EVERY TIME if we didn’t use a Snappi. At that rate, you need so many covers to get you through until washing it isn’t terribly economical to use prefolds. If you Snappi or pin and get the legs snug (with a little practice, you can do it!), you’ll save the cover from getting dirty the majority of the time. Now that my kids are older and on solid food, I usually trifold and forget about the Snappi, but I couldn’t stand it when they were tiny.

  29. Leanne Feb 16 at 1:55 am Reply Reply

    Echo the previous posters who said that one size diapers don’t work well on newborns. I started with a bunch of BG’s, thinking I would love them and they were too big for my 8.7 lbs chunky baby. I ended up switching to Thirsties XS all-in-ones. They were (are!) Amazing!!! I also had a couple xs HH (tiny heiny’s, lol!) And liked those as well.
    Anyways, “one size” diapers tend to be too big for newborns and often get too small for bigger kids before they’ve potty trained. Thirsties has addressed this with their new Duo pocket diapers… They come in 2 sizes, each with 3 snap downs. So the smaller size would fit from birth and eventually you would move up to the bigger size. Makes for 6 different settings on only 2 diapers! So there’s something to think about, since you aren’t going crazy already :)
    Top tips I’ve got from cloth diapering since birth:
    -get more diapers than you think you need (at least 12/day) especially for the beginning.
    -buy used and sell when you outgrow (diaperswappers.com, craigslist, etc)
    -baby wash cloths make great wipes… I have 2 tsp baby soap in a foaming bottle with water (no wipes warmer here!)
    -it is ok to change your mind! If you start with one kind and don’t love it, try something new. You will still save money over sposies!
    Oh… And be prepared to get addicted :)

  30. Kate Feb 16 at 2:37 am Reply Reply

    @ mamaJay – the average cost of diapering one child in disposables is supposedly $1500-$2000 so it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which cloth diapering isn’t cost effective. That being said you’re going to need to be careful which diapers you buy if you can’t wash them every other day. For example the bumGenius are supposed to be washed within 48 hrs of use (I think to keep the uric acid in the urine from breaking down the waterproofing). I suggest you contact the people at Jillian’s drawers and/or Cotton babies to explain your situation and ask them what they recommend.
    You may have done this already but since you’re going back to work the other big thing to consider is your childcare situation. Some (actually a lot of) daycares won’t do cloth at all; others will only work with certain types (usually all-in-ones).
    I’ve been cloth diapering for about 8 months now and it’s really not that much work once you figure out what works for you and you get the hang of it.
    Good luck!

  31. BG Mom Feb 16 at 7:02 am Reply Reply

    Just had to say that I used the BG3.0 One-Size for almost a year and loved them. The velcro has started to go, but we’ve worn those diapers hard, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Cottonbabies.com sent me (free!) replacement velcro kits, which require only very minimal sewing skills. However, haven’t bothered to fix the velcro, yet, because I got the new Flips and am in love. Flip with one insert (I like the stay dry) during the day and two inserts at night is my new, no-leak, not-too-bulky gold standard. The initial cost is almost the same as the one-size BGs (though you can buy fewer covers if you’re comfortable reusing – I change the cover every 2 pees or every poop), but it’s a lot cheaper to replace an insert if you ruin it than a whole diaper.
    (For what it’s worth I have one one-size Fuzzi Bunz (Bun?) and don’t like it. The fleece inside got pill-y very quickly, plus I can’t stand the way the lining sticks out the back and has to be tucked in. Also, my baby is CHUBBY with a round belly, and I have to put the waist on the smallest setting, so I can’t imagine how they would fit a smaller baby.)

  32. Cloth Diaper Ignoramus Feb 16 at 7:35 am Reply Reply

    Sorry, I have a million questions. I am very interested in cloth diapers for our second child, but very confused. Anyone in the UK/Europe who will understand – we have a nice, but small front loader washing machine, no dryer. Is it still reasonable to try cloth diapers? I figure they probably air dry pretty quickly… ? Would you buy 20 of the smallest size to start? And then what detergent do you use here – would Fairy Non-bio be ok? Do you need to add anything else?
    Also, what do you do with them after they’re used and before you wash them? Are the liners disposable? Do you keep them in a bucket somewhere until laundry time? Isn’t that kind of… smelly? If you’re out, where do you put the used ones? … Ok, sorry, I think that’s it.

  33. Lauren Feb 16 at 10:28 am Reply Reply

    I’m currently in the early research stages (not due until 9/8!), but I was wondering if anyone here used cloth diapers with coin-operated washers. I live in a co-op, and the only washers/dryers in the building are coin-operated, at $1.25 a pop. Would it get too expensive (and be too much of a hassle, as it’s 6 floors down to the laundry room) to try cloth diapers? Would a diaper service be better (and ultimately most cost- and sanity-saving effective)? Thanks!

  34. Courtney Feb 16 at 11:45 am Reply Reply

    I just blogged about this . . . I agree with Amy, the GroBabies are cute in theory but the poop always leaks onto the cover, making them way less cost-effective than they claim.
    We did a diaper service the first four months (while I was on maternity leave) and it was great. No stress, no mess; we did use Snappis on the prefolds because otherwise DS leaked a lot. We had thirsties covers in x-small and that worked from 6-12 pounds or so.
    Now we use one-size and have a bunch of different diapers. I also thought I *had* to have them all picked out, one brand, before the baby was here . . . didn’t happen. We have BG 3.0s, which have velcro; not a big fan of the velcro but these are great at night with two inserts since we have a heavy wetter. We also have the BG organics, which have snaps, but be careful because these didn’t fit until about 8-9 pounds. We ALSO have the BG flips – these are OK, but there is some leaking onto the covers.
    One brand I haven’t heard anyone talk about is Smartipants, which is what we’ve filled out most of our stash with. They’re one-size, all-in-twos (they come with microfleece inserts), snaps instead of velcro, you supposedly can just do a regular hot wash/tumble dry on them, and they’re cheaper than BGs! My only issue is the colors aren’t as cute.
    Right now, we do Flip at home during the day, BG 3.0 with two inserts at night, and Smartipants/BG organics for daycare since they’re easiest. GroBaby, sorry to say, is our diaper of last resort.
    Ignoramus – you throw them in a diaper pail, just like you would disposables. Newborn poop doesn’t smell so it’s not an issue; with older baby poop you’re supposed to flush it down the toilet. Then you just dump the whole load into the washer. And you want enough so that you’re not doing laundry every day – at least 2 dozen. Amy had some helpful CD posts earlier last year, and I just posted a few to my blog as well that run through the basics.

  35. Olivia Feb 16 at 12:52 pm Reply Reply

    @ mamaJay, I have 25 fuzzi bunz, and wash a full load about every 3 days. I know a lot depends on what your schedule is like and what kind of washer/dryer you have, but it really isn’t a lot of work for me. Total time washing and drying is about 2 hrs. So if I put them in the wash when I get home from work at 5:30 p.m., I’m folding diapers by the time we finish dinner.

  36. Megs Feb 16 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    I have used prefolds for over a year now, and love them. I have Bummies Superbright covers, which I like because they have side gussets that really help contain messes. We have had very few leaks, and certainly way less than disposables (we use these when traveling for more than a couple days, and have had numerous blow-outs). I never used snappies with the prefolds, but it sounds like they can be helpful in the beginning at least (which was when ours leaked occasionally). I just tri-fold the diaper and set it in the cover.
    One question – I was recently given some used BG, but the waterproofing appears to be not so great (they have leaked on us bad a few times already). Do you know if there’s a way to re-waterproof them, or are they just done with life? I’m thinking some kind of spray… Thanks for any help you can give!

  37. Stacy Feb 16 at 1:19 pm Reply Reply

    I am in Europe and use a front loading HE washer. I press the 40degree button, decrease the energy to 30degrees, and skip ahead to the rinse cycle. 30 minutes. Then I do the 95degree button, drop it to 70degrees, and add an extra rinse. 1 hour 34 minutes. I hang all the covers to dry, and tumble dry the inserts for 40 minutes. I do this 2x per week. I have 12 pre-folds, 3 covers, and 10 BumGenius and rarely have to resort to disposable during the day. We use 1 premium disposable at night.

  38. Wade Feb 16 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

    I know this is a cloth diapering thread, but just for the record, that $1500-$2000 number for disposables assumes that you are buying them in small packs at the grocery store, where the diapers run about 50 cents each. We’ve never run out of disposables because we buy them at Costco, where they are 15-20 cents each. A big box of diapers that lasts us 3-4 weeks is about $40, and as she gets bigger and needs fewer diapers, the number of boxes we need in a month will go down.
    The calculations also assume that your labor has no value. If you figure washing your own diapers takes one hour a week for folding, stuffing, etc. and you value that time at $10 an hour, add $520 a year to your cost projections.

  39. Susan Feb 16 at 2:29 pm Reply Reply

    Second shout out for gDiapers – they are almost as easy as disposables what with the flushable/trashable insert, though you can also buy gCloth inserts (or make your own out of fleece and microfiber, which is what I did). I bought my first set of smalls used off the gDiapers Yahoo! group.
    We use Huggies overnights because my son is a champion pee-r – and even then we sometimes have leaks.
    Laundry tips: I keep a bucket in the nursery closet half full of water and OxiClean. Dirty cloth inserts and wet liners/covers go in there until laundry day (poopy liners soak in the toilet and the poop gets flushed). gs come with a swishstick, which is handy for rinsing liners in the toilet (clean hands!).
    I velcro my covers closed and toss them all into a zippered pillowcase cover, which prevents them from sticking to each other/other laundry items.
    I line dry everything (easy to do in 0% humidity CO) to extend the life of the fabric (particularly fleece, which melts ever so slightly every time you put it in the dryer).
    I use Dropps laundry pacs which are TRULY AMAZING (and eco-friendly) and get out all kinds of stains
    For stained liners, I hang them to dry in the sunshine – I didn’t think that could possibly work, but it does!
    I discovered Kushies makes a flushable paper liner for cloth diapers, which means that poop stays (mostly) on the liner, not the insert, so there’s less poop to wash off the liners.
    I make my own wipes – mix 1 T aloe vera gel and 1 T olive oil. Add a tsp. castile soap, then 8 oz warm water. I have a plastic tub from 7th generation wipes, and Scott paper towels (the smaller select a size) will fit almost perfectly folded in half. Pour the mixture over half the papers towels, add the other half, pour the rest of the mixture over and let it set for a while to soak into the towels. The paper towels are strong and durable, yet can be flushed with the g inserts.
    Finally, it is a good idea to have a stash of disposables handy – I’ve found Nature Baby Care, which are Swedish and contain no petrolatum and are much better for the environment in other ways than your Pampers or Huggies (though Huggies are making an effort with their Natural Care organic cotton disposables). Nature Baby Cares are available on diapers.com, target.com, and at some Babies R Us stores (or on their website).

  40. Jessi Feb 16 at 3:23 pm Reply Reply

    Amy, I’m so happy you wrote a follow-up on this! I was wondering how it was going for you. I’ve been using them for about 7 months (on my 8-month-old). He’s worn Kissaluvs size O (GREAT for newborns, can’t say enough positive things about this diaper), tried a FB and now use it occasionally (same fit problem. He’s 20 lbs. and the smalls NOW fit without any leaks.), but BG’s are our go-to diaper. I also have a bunch of inserts and doublers – some I sewed to fit with my Gdiaper covers.
    But lately we’ve had some stink issues. So I got a sample of Rockin’ Green and so far so good! I was using Charlie’s but was never really impressed with it. (btw, my bag of Charlie’s came with a scoop – it was at the bottom of the bag.)
    I actually got some used BG’s from diaperswappers.com and while the diapers were in great condition, the velcro wasn’t. If you know how to sew, it’s not difficult to replace the aplix.
    But really, start off simple and find what works for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated. And us cloth diaper moms LOVE to talk about diapers!

  41. Courtney Feb 16 at 3:55 pm Reply Reply

    @Lauren – I’m in a building with coin-op (well, card-op) laundry and it’s actually $1.75 per wash and dry – $3.50 per load total. And if you do an extra rinse first, it’s another $1.75, so it really does add up. If you’re looking at cloth diapering from a purely financial standpoint, a service might be the way to go.
    That said, we decided to buy our own, rather than continue the diaper service, for two reasons: 1) AI1/AI2s are a lot easier and less messy than prefolds, and 2) daycare wouldn’t deal with the prefolds. We have enough now so we only have to wash them twice a week, and it’s really just one cold wash of diapers, one regular wash where we throw in other clothes, and one dry. So not that much extra work. Plus my husband does all our laundry :-)

  42. kakaty Feb 16 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

    I cloth diapered (as much as we could – daycare refuses to use them) until potty training at about 2 1/2. Now, I’m 8 weeks away from baby #2 and can’t wait to use them again and that $300 investment nearly 4 years ago will really pay off. Luckily, we got all the covers in genderless colors and patterns.
    When I was prego with our girl another cloth diapering mom suggested that I use newborn sized disposables at first and ease into cloth. I loved that advice and got 6 each of Fuzzi Bunz (love!) and Happy Heinys (which I wanted to love but hated because of the velcro) in the small size. That way I wasn’t overwhelmed with the decision of WHICH! BRAND! TO! CHOOSE! and dealing with the whole issue of figuring out washing schedules and if I even liked cloth diapering and all while also dealing with life as a first-time parent of a newborn stress.
    I loved using cloth and ended up getting a full stash of 18 FB diapers each in small and med. By the time she outgrew those we were potty training. I got all the mediums used and saved a ton of $$ without giving up anything.
    Start small – keep your options open and you’ll figure out what system works best for you.

  43. JCF Feb 16 at 11:51 pm Reply Reply

    @Lauren–We also have communal washers/dryers, and have used them to wash cloth diapers since our first was born 2.5 years ago. It really isn’t that big of a deal, for the most part. If your setup is like ours, and you can do multiple loads at the same time, it is just as easy to throw in an extra load while you’re washing something else. We definitely don’t save as much as if we had our own washer, but it is still financially worth the extra work!

  44. Susie Feb 17 at 3:04 pm Reply Reply

    We use prefolds and Thirsties covers, and I love them. Ditto to what people said about the Snappis… they helped before my daughter was on solids, but now at 8 months, we don’t bother.
    For the newborn diapers – we found someone who *rents* newborn size Kissaluvs: http://www.nellsnautralbaby.com She’s local to us, but I think she ships anywhere. Last year, she also had some limited Bum Genius All-in-One rentals, so we actually did that. Anyway, we kept them for two months, then used the deposit money to upgrade to a prefold package. It was fantastic.
    Also, we do disposables at night – we have enough sleep problems in our house as it is, and changing her wasn’t helping.
    I heart cloth diapers!

  45. La Rêveuse Feb 17 at 4:26 pm Reply Reply

    We used BG 3.0′s with my daughter, and I hated the velcro. Even with using the things Amy’s husband didn’t, they always came undone anyway, and the velcro shredded and had to be repaired and replaced. The company will send free replacement tabs, but you have to sew yourself if they are older than a year. They did replace my covers once when they had shredded and it was under a year.
    I bought some of their new ecobums to try. LOVE the snaps. If they put the snaps on BG’s, I’d be there. Ecobums worked well, though only when she wasn’t throwing a tantrum (you can’t force them on.) I am holding them to use with BB#2, due May. If I continue to like those, I’ll buy more because they are really cheap. #1 is training now, so doing pull ups. I hate buying them, but she can’t snap herself, and having a “big girl” thing does seem to help a little.
    Excuse me, I have a lot of velcro tabs to go sew on my old BG’s before the kid shows up. :)

  46. Anyabeth Feb 18 at 6:11 pm Reply Reply

    I am staggered by the idea of five diapers for newborn? We had twenty and that was enough to get through a day and night. Less than that is a lot of laundry? I mean they poop every two hours.
    We used Kissaluvs for the newborn period and they were brilliant. Then I sold the set and bought a mix of Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius. Love love love. And we also have the velcro wear out. But Cotton Babies will send you a velcro repair kit for free and new tabs made them work like new. Brilliant.

  47. hermowninny Feb 18 at 8:43 pm Reply Reply

    We cloth diaper our son and we have the bum genius organic AIO and then some wonderful ones that we found from a woman on etsy (abt $10 per dipe). Generally you can a way better price from a WAHM, and you will find her customers are loyal and leave great reviews that will really help you decide. Also I highly discourage the use of velcro it wears out too easily go for the snaps, they may add a little to the price of the dipe, but are so worth it in the end.

  48. Chelsea Feb 19 at 2:20 pm Reply Reply

    Well, I haven’t started cloth-diapering yet, because I’m 3 weeks away from my due date, but I’m still working on what my “system” is going to be. I’m thinking Fuzzi Bunz one size later on, prefolds during the day for now, and disposables at night (since I already have some from my baby shower). I live in an apartment, and when I asked Stephanie at Abby’s Lane what she’d recommend, she said a lot of her customers recommend the “Wonder Wash” (also known as the Sputnik-3). My boyfriend and I got one for Christmas and have been using it to pre-wash our baby’s clothes, and we really like it.
    Anyway, I also wanted to mention: for those of you with dryer issues: I highly, highly recommend a “spin dryer” which you can get at the same place as the Wonder Wash (I don’t want to advertise here, but a quick Google search should find it for you). The spin dryer gets out way more water than a regular washing machine’s spin cycle. I have a few fleece sleep sacks that I washed and then “spin-dried” last night, and you might have noticed that fleece holds water, and wringing it dry is nearly impossible. The spin dryer got it almost completely dry, and it takes about 2-3 minutes. We just got our spin dryer yesterday and we kept walking by the drying rack and being way too amazed at how dry it was. Kind of sad, but it really works, so I thought I’d pass that on (and I promise you, I’m not an advertiser. Just a nerd :p)

  49. Lauren Feb 22 at 3:36 pm Reply Reply

    @Courtney & @JCF: Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad to know it’s doable…now the next step is convincing the husband :-)

  50. tizinu Feb 22 at 7:50 pm Reply Reply

    On the BG velcro issue:
    Although I understand the longevity of the velcro being a huge issue in determining whether or not you go with BG velcro or snaps, I will say that the velcro is much easier (and more forgiving) to take off and put on the baby. It was easy to convince the husband, the grandparents, and the nanny to use because it’s so similar to disposies. It’s way easy to put them on and take them off at night when it’s dark, you’re tired, and you just hope the baby doesn’t have an explosive poo. And it’s way easy to angle the baby in the diaper with velcro like disposies, to get the best fit of the diaper.
    And I know that snaps are easy, I’m just saying the velcro is easiER and if it’s a matter of getting a free velcro kit from cottonbabies to replace tabs after a year, or fussing with snaps in the middle of the night, I choose velcro. It’s just something to keep in mind before you take the leap! :)

  51. Steph Feb 24 at 10:17 am Reply Reply

    Oh I know the feeling of angst and fretfulness at picking out cloth diapers! We’re nearly 9 months into our adventure and I have learned a lot. After much much research, we initially went with BG one size (the 3.0s) and we randomly got 2 FB one size diapers as a gift. Total, we started off with 25 diapers and that was PERFECT for washing every other day in the tiny newborn stage. Since then, I admit I am a little disappointed in the lasting power of the BGs because the velcro is really wearing and I ALWAYS use the laundry tab, but I ALWAYS have a jumble of diapers coming out of the washer. That is annoying. I like the snaps on the FBs. If I could do it all over, I don’t know that I would choose BGs again because some of the leg elastics on a few of the diapers are getting noticeably stretched. They do sell replacement kits for both the velcro and the elastic for like $1, but I’m not sure I would be able to replace it all with my limited sewing skills.
    Recently I heard about and bought a Softbums diaper and I think I would like to gradually build up my stock of those for the next child. They don’t involve pockets, and they are one size, but they have little pull tabs to tighten or loosen the legs and it is WAY easier and more accurate and I get a much better fit. Also, they are not pocket diapers, so there is not extra stuffing or preparing after washing, which is nice.
    I agree with whoever said that the velcro is certainly EASIER than snaps for dads, grandparents, etc, but it wears so quickly. My BGs would certainly not make it through a second child without replacing it.
    Nighttime I have absolutely no problems with leaks if I use a diaper doubler and even though it’s bulkier, it’s easy and worth it and our boy sleeps through the night (generally). I did have a few nighttime leaks before I learned the trick of gently pointing his penis down when I put on the diaper. I have a certain color of diapers that I reserve as the “nighttime diapers” so I just go ahead and double stuff those ahead of time and those are the ones that are having the most elastic problems (obviously b/c they are thicker).
    Agree that for the first couple of weeks, just do disposable. Especially for the first baby when EVERYTHING is new and you have to be careful of the umbilical stump, possible circumcisions, etc. Adjust to lack of sleep, breastfeeding (if applicable), hormones, etc and then tackle the diapers when the umbilical stump falls off.
    Also agree that one sized diapers are just too big for newborns. They say 7-8 pounds, but it is impossible to get a tight fit. However, I have to admit that I do think the softbums would fit a newborn because the leg holes get TINY on the smallest setting.
    Other random tips:
    –instead of drying, I line dry. Especially during the summer, the sun would bleach everything and the diapers were always sparkly white, no matter how much poop had been on them. Now in the winter, I still put them on a drying rack overnight. It saves electricity from the dryer and it helps preserve that velcro a little bit.
    –for wipes, just buy a couple of packs of cheap baby washcloths. I keep them in a tupperware container in a solution of 1 Tblspn vinegar to 1 cup water. Not warm, but doesn’t seem to bother E. Then you just wash the “wipes” with the diaper loads.
    –for poops, I use the flushable diaper liners. They are not AS necessary (IMO) with the breastfed poops that will wash right out anyway, but once they start solids, these are awesome. They look like dryer sheets, but you lay them in the diaper, they catch the poop, and then you just flush the whole thing. So no spraying or scraping involved and they are super awesome!
    –be sure to get a couple of the diaper bags (i.e. Planetwise reusable wet bags) for traveling, something I hadn’t thought through. They are awesome and you just wash them after using them.
    –something else I had much angst over was the actual diaper pail–wet, dry, how to do it? What has worked for us is just a tall regular trash can from Target WITH A FOOTPEDAL (SO IMPORTANT, your hands are full of diaper and possibly baby). I also bought two mesh laundry bags and I put the bag in the trashcan and when I’m ready to do laundry, I just pull out the whole laundry bag, empty into the washer, toss the bag in as well and wash. Obviously I bought two so I can use the clean one while the other one gets washed.
    –I work and daycare won’t use cloth, so we only do cloth at home. I literally take him in in cloth, change him there, and when I pick him up, I change him back into cloth. When he was at home full time the first 4 months, we washed pretty much every other day. Now that he’s older, he uses less diapers and we can go every 3 days if he’s home full time, but really I wash twice a week since he only uses 2-3 a day during day care days.
    Oh, that was too much, I’m sorry. No one has asked me for advice or how the cloth diapering is going so I’ve been saving it all up! You will totally get addicted and you will be pleasantly surprised at how EASY it is and how AWESOME it feels to not be contributing to landfills every time you change the babe. I had so many worries and it will definitely be a learning experience, but definitely worth it!
    Good luck!

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