At a family wedding, one of David’s infinite number of cousins asked me about how we’re liking cloth diapers, and brands I recommend. I had a lot of thoughts about this, and figured I’d put them here too in case they are useful to anyone else.
First of all, I am happy we’re using cloth diapers – they’ve worked really well for us. And don’t want you to read anything else about my parenting style in to the decision to use cloth. I like them because they are cute and cheap over the long run and I don’t mind an extra load of laundry every 3 days and in 6 months Jess has only had two bits of really mild diaper rash and they don’t seem to have blowouts. No poop up the back, no poop in the hair, no ruined clothing! Really, it’s almost as easy as using disposables, but thousands of dollars cheaper in the long run, and that’s important to me. The side benefits about cuteness and the environment and the lack of blowouts and all the rest are great, but for me, the $800 ish I spent up front is good value over several years with probably a couple of kids. Also, we have not found a noticeable increase in our water bill.
Amalah is my personal guru of cloth diapers. Her posts on Alphamom and her own site were very helpful, if somewhat overwhelming. I ended up buying a bunch of different diapers, mostly from her suggestions and some from sales, and have loved some and hated others.
Generally, I have liked the sized ones more than the one size fits all sizes, but you quickly come up against cost, as having to buy a few sets of different size diapers adds up. We have a combo of sized and one sized fits all diapers, although now that she’s bigger (16 pounds) the OS diapers fit pretty well, so it’s less of an issue, compared to putting a 9 pound baby in the same diaper. I mean, the snaps meant it fit, but it was so jumbo she looked like a beached turtle. Because of that, we didn’t really start using cloth until she was over 11 pounds.
We mainly use all in one / pocket style diapers, as opposed to old school prefolds/fitted diapers and a plastic cover, although we have a few of the later and they are really handy to have around. Especially when you’re behind on washing diapers – one cover can last all day as you just switch out the prefolds. And prefolds are super cheap, so that’s a bonus. All In Ones are the easiest, what with it being a shell with a sewn in cotton/fleece/minky layer and often place to stuff an absorbent pad. (Some of them have attached pads, some separate. I don’t notice any real difference in the time it takes to put them together or in the way they work.) They fasten with snaps or velcro and work like the ease of a disposable. No diaper cover required. Our daycare is fine with using them, too.
I have two favourite diapers (and god, does it feel weird to have that statement be true. I guess I really am a parent now.). The first is FuzziBunz Perfect Size diapers. Jess wore the smalls until ~15 pounds, and then her chubby thighs dictated a move to the mediums. They fit really well, and because they are sized, they don’t have the bulk issue. They absorb well, the liner falls out in the washer so you don’t have to touch it when it’s dirty, the colours are cute and they fit well under clothes.
My other favourites are the Scottish made TotBots, in part because they are so adorable. I mean, the London ones are covered with little drawings of Tube map and little Buckingham Palace guards and blacks cabs. Also fairy tale diapers, like Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Piggies. Squee! They’re sold out everywhere, but will eventually return, and I plan to buy at least 4 more. They’re soft minky fabric instead of the stiffer fleece most other diapers use, and so they are less bulky even as an all in one diaper. The velcro seems to be lasting well, and the fit is great. And oh so cute.
First in the diapers I like category are Swaddlebees Simplex / Blueberry Basix All-in-One Diapers. (Same company – name change or something.) I like them – they fit snugly and have lasted far longer than the other sized diapers. I bought them on sale, and they’ve held up. There’s not fleece inside – unbleached organic cotton instead, so they often come out of the dryer still damp. I have them in plain colours, because they were on sale, but they do come in some pretty cute patterns.
I also like (but not love) using prefolds and covers. I started with cheap Indian unbleached prefolds, some Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and some Weehuggers. I liked the Weehuggers but Jess outgrew them fairly quickly, compared to the the Thirsties which still fit at 16 pounds. I’ve since bought a couple more Thirsties in the medium size (in girly prints) and a couple of Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, but at 16 pounds, Jess isn’t quite fitting them yet. I’ve also bought a couple of fitted diapers: Bamboozle Stretch Bamboo Fitted Diapers by Tots Bots. They are awesome, and I plan to buy a few more. Really easy to use, like the All in Ones, except for needing to add a cover. (Honestly, prefolds aren’t hard or anything. I just fold the diaper in threes and stuff it in the cover – I haven’t figured out any of the special folds or how to best use a snappi (now used instead of pins.) It’s just easier to use a one piece diaper with velcro. I’ve already made this complicated enough, why add more?)
I’m not a big fan of the BumGenius Freetime diapers. I mean, they’re fine, I guess? I use them for nights, stuffed with a thick insert and bamboo insert, and she’s fine for 12 hours. But the inserts don’t fall out in the wash, which means you have to pull them out before washing, and frankly, I like cloth diapers because of how rarely I have to touch gross stuff, so that takes kind of ruins it for me. I mean, they are fine, and the Einstein print is pretty awesome, but a resounding MEH from me otherwise.
Diapers I hate? Flips. Hate them. The liner always moves around when you’re trying to put it on, because it’s not attached to anything. They technically function fine, and other people seem to like them, but I’d rather use a prefold and a cover than this weird hybrid. I will sell them to you for cheap if you want them!
Beyond the diapers, I bought a small wetbag for the diaper bag, and a large one and an Ikea pail with lid. We use cloth wipes, because why not, at this point? We use a combo of fancy cloth ones and cheap infant face cloths I got as a shower present. As she’s not yet mobile, we leave her on the couch (aka the change station) while we wet the cloth in the sink, but eventually probably we’ll use a spray bottle to wet them. Calgary has the hardest water ever, and I use Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent. After 4 months of daily use, the diapers had built up a bit of ammonia smell, so I soaked them in Strip it by The Laundry Tarts and dried them in the sun and I haven’t had the problem again.
If you buy nothing else, buy a cloth swim diaper! Swim diapers are basically just there to stop poop from leaking in to the water – liquids drain right through. A 10 pack of swim diapers is like $10. A swim diaper good for like, a year, is $15. And they are cuter. I bought a matching tankini top, and she doesn’t need anything else. (Not that we didn’t buy a pink ruffled swim suit, but this gives us options!)
Of course, we still have disposables around. No way in hell I will I deal with cloth diapers on a week long road trip. And sometimes she starts to look a little red (especially in this transition to food / transition in poop phase) so we’ll cover her in diaper cream at bed time and use a disposable. (Most diaper creams destroy most cloth diapers. It’s not been worth my while to buy a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, for the one or twice a month this has happened.)
So those are my thoughts. If I was to do this again, from scratch? I would use a diaper service for the first couple of months, instead of buying newborn diapers. I would then buy adorable covers and a small pile of prefolds and fitteds. I would buy a bunch of one sized Totbots and sized Fuzzibunz diapers, and some Blueberries for variety and fun patterns. A three pack of the bamboo liners for nights. Maybe a trio of the BumGenius for nights, because they’re large enough to take lots of liners. Yes to the cloth wipes and wet bags and detergent and swim diaper. And then, I’d still probably buy a few news ones over the months, because damn if there are not some adorable patterns out there.
I only bought from Canadian stores, in large part to avoid paying duties, and cheaper (or free!) shipping. The three I used and have been very happy with are Peekaboo Bottoms, GorgeousBaby and Calgary Cloth Diaper Depot, but there’s lots of others, with various deals on shipping and sales.
Anyway, that’s about the sum of my feelings. (I can’t believe I have 1600 words to say about cloth diapers. Motherhood is strange!)