Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cloth Diapering - The "How" and Breaking Some Stigmas Attached to Cloth Diapering

In my last post, I talked about the "why" behind our choice to cloth diaper. Today, I'm going to talk about the "how" and hopefully try to break some stigmas attached to cloth diapering. Again, as a disclaimer, I am by no means a cloth diapering expert. I only have experience with one kind of cloth diaper. I have done a lot of research in making my choice and believe it to be the best choice for my family, but I certainly wouldn't say it's the only way to cloth diaper or even the best way for any other family. This is simply what works for us.

When I was doing research about cloth diapering before Maggie was born, I was totally overwhelmed. Have you done any research on cloth diapering?!? Ugh. The volume of information is enough to make anyone decide that they are just going to use disposables. It is impossible to read all the information that exists. Once I accepted that truth, I was able to set my mind at ease. I am an information gatherer and so I read blogs and talked to mamas and talked to Matthew and researched the various cloth diapering options. I found Lindsey at breakdown of her experience with cloth diapering three kids extremely helpful. This post, specifically, was the most helpful. After reading and doing extensive research, I read reviews of different cloth diapering products on, and I recommend reading user reviews of any cloth diaper you are considering. They're invaluable as long as you can be discerning. If a user is ranting, I generally don't take their review seriously. However, if there are several users ranting about the same thing, I compare their complaints with user reviews on other sites. If there's truly a problem, you'll know. There will be complaints about the same thing on every site. 

After doing all my research, I chose bumGenius 4.0 One Size Snap Pocket Diapers (right.) 

I chose bumGenius because of their amazing warranty, high quality construction, and that I could use the same diaper from birth(ish) to potty training. Anyway - all that information is background info about how I chose which diapers were best for our needs as a family. 

Once I got my diapers, I followed the instructions that came with them for preparing them for their first use. My instructions from bumGenius said to prewash in hot water with a "small amount of detergent" 3-5 times before their first use. I did this and didn't use my diapers for awhile (they still didn't quite fit.) The bumGenius website says that diapers reach their full absorbency after 10 washes. About 2 months lapsed from the time I washed the diapers and when we started using them. They seemed perfectly absorbent right away. I didn't notice a significant change after 10 washes. 

bumGenius says that their diapers fit from 8 lbs. to 35 lbs. We tried one diaper when Maggie weighed around 8.5 lbs. It leaked horribly. I read on several cloth diapering blogs that a lot of times, the diapers don't fit well until the baby weighs 10 lbs or more. We definitely found this to be true. Once I tried a diaper on Maggie when she weighed 10 lbs., we had absolutely no leaking. That's my biggest happiness about the bumGenius diapers - we have had no leaking! Even with huge poops at the end of a 3 hour nap when the liner is already saturated, no leaking. I will say, when we have Bean, we will be using disposable diapers until all the nasty newborn poop is gone and is replaced with breastmilk poop. The black, tarry poop stains everything big time. I'd rather not have my diapers stained from the get-go. 

Once we started using the diapers, it was easy. We changed the diapers just like a normal diaper - about every 2 hours or so (sooner, if needed.) If the diapers were wet, then into a wet bag they went. For the dirty diapers Maggie had when she was a small baby, I just put them in the wet bag. I didn't dunk them. No diaper sprayer was used. I just tossed them into the wet bag and the washing machine took care of getting all the poop out. Once she started solids, if the poop was solid, into the toilet it went. I did dunk the diapers in the toilet to get any big chunks (gross, I know! Sorry!) off. A lot of people I know who cloth diaper think a diaper sprayer is a necessity. For them, it may be. For me, I wouldn't choose to spend money on a diaper sprayer. I can dunk my diapers just fine and not be any more grossed out then I would be if I were changing a diaper.

Like I said in my previous post, I wash my diapers at least once a week. The bumGenius website recommends washing diapers every 2-3 days, but I honestly don't have enough diapers in a load at that point to justify washing. My diapers have been fine washing about once a week. I have no funky odors and no staining. Any bacteria situation is taken care of monthly, when I use 1/4 cup of bleach on my diapers. Since I have about 40 diapers, I only wash about half every week. So my diapers only get used every other week. This has made a big difference in their wear, as many of the reviews I read of the bumGenius diapers complained about the elastic in the legs stretching out after having the diapers for less than a year. bumGenius will replace the elastic for free if you are still within your warranty period, so this wasn't a huge deterrent for me in buying these. I do know that it helps, though, that I am able to use my diapers about once every 2 weeks, though. Less wearing and less washing.

I wash my diapers as recommended on the care label on the bumGenius diapers. I wash my diapers in a cold wash cycle first. After that, I add a 1/4 to 1/2 a scoop of bumGenius diaper detergent to a hot wash cycle. Then, I double rinse. I have a setting on my washer that does a double rinse. Once a month, I pour 1/4 cup of bleach into my bleach dispenser on my washer during the second wash cycle (the hot wash.) I triple rinse the bleach load because I don't want any bleach residue left on the diapers. Once the diapers are clean, I take them out of the washer and depending on what part of the year it is (I dry my inserts in the dryer in the winter/if it's raining outside) I take them to line dry, either upstairs or outside. I have a drying rack that I use. I have absolutely no stains on any of my diapers by following the methods outlined for cleaning the diapers according to bumGenius. Like I said earlier, I choose to use bumGenius cloth diaper detergent for my diapers. Here is a list from about diaper detergents that won't leave any residue on your diapers and won't void your warranty.

I know I'm a little crazed in avoiding voiding my warranty. But honestly, if I'm going to spend about $18 a diaper, I want to protect my investment! Plus, one of the biggest reasons I chose bumGenius diapers was because of the amazing warranty that they came with. Here's a list of things that void bumGenius' cloth diapers:

- the washing instructions haven't been followed
- the diaper has been altered
- water temperatures have exceeded 100 F
- a detergent containing additives (enzymes, brighteners, whiteners, dyes, perfumes, essential oils) or natural soap has been used
- use of fabric softeners
- any caustic substance
- diaper rash cream was used

You can find the list of care/instructions/FAQs here on bumGenius' website.

Most of the things on the list of things that void your warranty are easy to avoid (who's going to use a caustic substance anywhere NEAR their baby?) However, the one on the list that caused the most problems for me was the diaper rash cream. Maggie doesn't get crazy diaper rashes usually, but we found out she had a corn allergy because she got a crazy bad diaper rash (like blisters bad.) What did I do? During that time, I used disposable diapers and loaded up on the butt paste. However, she does have some flare ups every now and then (because corn is in seriously EVERYTHING) and for those times, I just use coconut oil. It is wonderful for her skin and has anti fungal and antimicrobial properties, so it's great for the diapers, too. :) That usually clears things up pretty quickly.

As for a few of the stigmas associated with cloth diapers - I haven't found many that hold up when tested. The two biggest stigmas that I've encountered with cloth diapers (or had myself before I used them,) are:

- Cloth diapers create so much extra laundry that it will be overwhelming to keep up with it all.
- Cloth diapers will cause a baby to have more frequent diaper rashes because the diapers aren't as absorbent as disposable.

To address the first stigma - this was honestly the thing that made me think twice about cloth diapering. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to handle "all the extra laundry" that nay-sayers say that cloth diapering creates. Honestly, it's one, maybe two extra loads a week. Seriously not a big deal. The amount of diapers that I have helps, but even if I only had 24 diapers, it would still be about 2 extra loads a week. In the scope of my laundry, cloth diapers are a minimal amount of the laundry that I do.

As far as the more frequent diaper rashes go, I've actually found the opposite to be true. I can use the cloth diapers with no problems. Even on days when Maggie takes a longer than usual nap (3.5-4 hours,) her bottom isn't red or rashy when I do change her diaper when she wakes up. With disposable diapers, about the only way she can use them for a long period of time is if I load up the butt paste before I put the diaper on her. Otherwise, she has a rash after using the disposable diapers for a short time. I learned this by trial and error. We visit my parents frequently (they live in Kansas City) and we use disposable diapers while we are there. I began to notice that Maggie's skin looked a lot worse when she wore disposable diapers all the time and as a default, I began to put butt paste on her bottom every time I changed her diaper. I finally figured out that I could use the disposable diapers on her with no adverse affects, but I had to also use the butt paste as a barrier between her skin and the disposable diaper. Disposable diapers have tons of chemicals in them and one of them must irritate Maggie's skin. It doesn't really matter what kind of disposable diapers they are. They all have the same affect. She has had far fewer diaper rashes using cloth diapers.

The length of this post is overwhelming, I realize. Cloth diapering doesn't have to be, though. It can be as easy as disposable diapers. There are a lot of other nuances about cloth diapering that I haven't covered, simply because I don't have experience with them (like a travel size wet bag, for instance.) We've really enjoyed our cloth diapering experience, though, and in conjunction with the money it's saved us, it really is worth looking into! 

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