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Cloth Diapers

A Year in Cloth Diapers

By Amalah

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 (now called GroVia) cloth 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.

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 cloth 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 (now GroVia) but whatever! I’m sure other people have had great success with them!

Are you having a baby 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 (now called GroVia) diaper, though not overnight.)

If I were preparing to cloth diaper a newborn, I’d probably go for the same half-FuzziBunz and half BumGenius 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.

Published February 15, 2010. Last updated October 29, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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