Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cloth Diaperdom

In the spirit of the recent Earth Day and some folks' desire to grow evermore "green", I wanted to pass along some personal cloth diapering insights... I wrote these to a friend who was considering the switch awhile back. The description below provides the Gasperini-Ville approach to cloth. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments! Also, I'd love to hear from users of other brands of cloth so as to have full representation across the board. Do yours leak? Are they user-friendly? Are they comfy for the kiddos?

Thanks and happy diapering!

Overall, I would say cloth diapering is WORTH the initial investment and the diapers are just as good as disposables. We have gotten into a good routine with the diapers and now it barely feels like we are doing anything different. After starting two years ago in April, it has definitely been a great choice for us.

First of all, it is totally normal to feel overwhelmed and over-informationalized about these crazy cloth diapers. There is tons of info out there on the WWW and yet, I found very little of it to be really informative. I also hated that cloth diaper discussion pages were laden with acronyms and fancy terms! I never had any idea WHAT I was reading! Better to ask friends with tried-and-true experience!

Secondly, leaking is a possibility, especially if you don't have the right kind of diaper and insert for your little one. Cloth definitely requires a greater frequency of changes since you don't have the chemical polymers for absorption. We have found success with Fuzzi Bunz, a very popular brand of cloth diapers. I've found the cotton next to the skin makes the babies feel pretty dry. They are expensive, but in the end save you $$ if you use them long enough and for more than one child. We had friends who were ditching the cloth thing (she couldn't handle the smells and excessive laundry, but is now thinking of going back!) and we bought their used stash of smalls, med. and large fuzzi bunz along with their Hemparoo inserts. Joey Bunz Hemparoos are awesome organic hemp cotton inserts that are 7 layers thick and great for absorbing LOTs of pee. The FB are pocket diapers, so I usually place one of the Hemparoos in it and away we go. I also like them because the inserts are relatively thin. FB will come with their own inserts that can be used as doublers, but don't hold nearly as much liquid and are thicker. The diaper will definitely leak if you only use the inserts provided by FuzziBunz. Once the kiddo starts walking, the thinner the insert, the better. Even two Hemparoos is pretty thin when all is said and done.

I use the FB/Hemparoo combos during the day and a disposable at nighttime. We used to go 24/7 with cloth, but would drive the kids and us crazy, stuffing 3 hemparoos into the nighttime diaper and making them look like little Sumo wrestlers. It wasn't worth my sanity! Now, I just buy a box of disposables and use them for our diaper bag, trips, and nighttimes.

As for storage of the Bunz between washings, I found a Rubbermaid flip top garbage can that seals well and holds in the wonderful cloth aroma! I have it right by the changing table and toss both the FB and the Hemparoo together into the bin (after separating them). Then, when it comes time for washing, I just dump the whole bin into the machine, run a cold rinse cycle and then a High Power Wash cycle with Tide Free on Hot. This seems to be enough to remove everything and the smells. We finish with a Warm dryer cycle and extra towel, which dramatically reduces drying time. I used to air dry my FB covers, but found that the dryer did little harm to them.

We also use disposable wipes and I have a separate garbage can for those. I just change it regularly and we usually keep the smell way down. GG is pretty particular and hasn't minded it at all.

As for how many diapers you should initially buy--I would start with 10 as you can usually get through 2 days with such a supply, though you could always add a few if you needed more. You'll go through more diapers with a little one, so you might want to start out with 12 or so. All in all, though, I think cloth diapering babies 6mos and younger is a no-brainer and the BEST way to go. Everything is completely organic and requires LITTLE work. You can just dump in the hamper and go! When he starts on solids, you'll have to do a little toilet dumping, but overall, I make my washing machine do the heavy-duty work!!

Check out eBay if you want to find some used FB diapers. I actually bought a bunch of my Hemparoos from there--I'm going to wash the inserts anyway, so I didn't mind getting them if they'd already been used. The Hemparoo inventor sometimes lists ones with defects (like a missed stitch) and they are a wonderful bidding item. I have a few of those and they were sig. cheaper. Hemparoos run around $4/ea.

There you have it--probably more information than you ever wanted, but enjoy!


Melinda said...


Thanks for posting this. I love cloth diapering. My kids are sensitive to plastic and although I have found brands of disposables that don't give them instant diaper rash, I still like the thought of that warm, clean cotton on their bums.

We use the old-fashioned cotton prefolds with bummis covers, and yes, it is cheaper, even considering the fact that I have to pay to wash them in our building basement. We have a good routine and I have never found cloth diapering to be overwhelming, although I did have to go to battle with some nasty ladies in my building about washing them here. If anyone needs information about bacteria and laundry, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am unfortunately an encyclopedia on this subject. My husband refuses to discuss washing diapers with me ever again!

I also recently tried out a friend's G-diapers, the new bio-degradable, flushable diapers. They are really cool, but pretty expensive to use all the time. So I think we'll stick with cloth, which gets more cost-effective with each baby!

Right Said Red said...

We are cloth diapering too! At the moment I am still in survival mode (new baby), so we are doing about 50% cloth--as I am always behind on my laundry when in survival mode.

Cloth diapering is so easy when the baby is less than 6 months old. You have less blow outs and you don't have to dump toddler poop into the toilet. I actually travel with cloth for a little baby, as I'd rather not risk the blowouts that ALWAYS happen with disposable diapers!

Overall, you save a lot of money by switching to cloth, plus you help the environment. I was very intimated to get started, but once we did, I actually started to enjoy it! Now, I'm not so sure that I enjoy anything related to diapers...but who can really enjoy changing toddler poop?

Like B-mama we use disposables at night and for trips.

We use fuzzi bunz, and after trying 5 different types of cloth diapers, I like these the best.

Happy Diapering ;-)

k said...

Hi guys, we cloth diapered for the first year plus...stopped when grad school and toddler poo made things a bit overwhelming. I would second everything b-mama said...although I actually prefer the micro-fiber inserts the fuzzibunz come with...but I do have some hemp.

If you have a skinny baby cloth diapers rock because they help hold their pants up!!

When Jack was tiny tiny I used kissaluvs fitted diapers and cover of some sort, I found that for the newborn "blow out" poos they provided a little extra coverage and he was so small that they fuzzibunz didn't fit well for a month or so. We'll see if they next one is bigger I may go straight to FB's.

I will also put in a plug for traveling/vacationing with cloth. If we went anywhere longer then a weekend we usually had access to a washing machine and for shorter trips I just brought along my wetbag and then packed it for the trip home. We traveled a TON when Jack was little and after one airplane trip with mega-blow outs and no clean clothes left, well I was quickly moved to travel with cloth.

Just as a plug I love Inga at She is great for answering questions and if you live in the NJ/PA area you usually get your orders next day!

Oh and I have a diaperbag from Happy Tushies and I sent her fabric that matched the nursery...SO CUTE! ok so cute for a bag holding stinky diapers, and it really doesn't smell.

Now that we are using disposables I will say...the stink from them in the garbage is WAY worse.

"H" said...

Interesting info! For this naive mom-to-be, what's a "blow out" and why are cloth diapers better at preventing them?

Right Said Red said...


Congrats on your baby! I wish you an uneventful pregnancy and a smooth transition into motherhood!

A blow-out is when a baby poops and it goes into the diaper and then either up their back OR out through the leg hole of the diaper. Either way, it is a big mess and newborn baby poop stains and ruins lighter colored cloths. Some disposables are better then other at preventing blow-outs...but I've had the best luck with cloth. Something about the softness of the layered cloth fiber that prevents the poop from going everywhere ;-)

Anonymous said...

Especially if you're washing your own diapers, consider using cloth wipes as well. You just throw them in with the diapers when you wash. You can find some really cute ones on ebay or just cut up some old tee-shirts. It sounds extreme to some, but it's actually really easy and no more work - and very helpful to the environment.

Another advantage to cloth is that kids tend to potty-train earlier, because they are used to the sensation of wet vs. dry diaper. This was certainly true in our case.

B-Mama, you can totally do three kids and cloth! Rock on!

Ken said...

Fuzzi Bunz are awesome! We use them as our night-time and out and about diaper. We don't mind the "Sumo" look that stuffing them with 3 inserts (sometimes 4!)creates and they are the best cloth diaper we've found for preventing leaks. For those trying to save money on the inserts, you can just fold diaper rags instead of buying the inserts. What I actually did was fold them and then sew along the edges so they didn't have to be folded in the future. That changed the insert price from $4-$5 to about $0.50.

The only problem with Fuzzi Bunz is that they have to be "assembled" (putting the insert into the diaper) which is a bit of a pain. Add in that they're on the expensive side and we decided to go with a two brand strategy and use Bumkins around the house. They're not as good as the Fuzzi Bunz for leaks but they are very easy and the way they're constructed makes it easy to get the poo out.

Along those lines, those who can stand infant poo but have trouble when they get a little older and it starts getting solids in it, don't lose hope. I think the easiest time is when they're towards the end of diapers as the solid poo just drops out and doesn't have to be rinsed at all. It's the middle portion when it's half solid-half goo that is the tough spot.

Finally, we did the math on it and although the savings are small with 1 child, it's the 2nd and 3rd that really make them the cost-effective way to go. As such, having diapers that last multiple kids is important. We found both Fuzzi Bunz and Bumpkins to be very good in that regard (we tested about 4 other brands and had much worse luck).

Anonymous said...

yrxAlthough my "babies" are in middle school, I definitely remember the diaper years. While I didn't do cloth diapers, I did use cloth diaper rags. At the time, Costco sold the nice, large hotel-style white Martex washcloths in packs of 24 for aprox. 50cents apiece.
They wash/bleach easy, I could usually clean even a really yucky bottom with one washcloth, and best of all? Over a decade later I still have a whole basketful of perfectly useable washcloths!

Anonymous said...

Science fiction fans may prefer to call a blow-out a "warp core breach". It conveys the seriousness of the situation and the need for immediate, co-ordinated action : )


Anonymous said...

I love Fuzzi bunz!!! I started with them over two years ago because my third daughter would develop a rash with anything that wasn't cloth...apparently her father was the same way as a my mother-in-law informed me :)

anyways, i wish i would of started with the first. once you get into a routine the transition becomes second nature.

one BIG plus i have found with the cloth diaper is that children sense they are wet and want to be changed immediately. this helps in potty training. my third daughter is fully potty trained even through the night and she is only 26 months old.

i love cloth!!

Ann said...

Yea B-Mama! I was wondering if any of the girls on here used cloth. I love cloth diapering!! I think people who wince at using cloth aren't aware of ALL the options that are available today!! I use to wince, but it has evolved so much! I am using cloth right now with my fourth and I just wish I did sooner!
I started out with Blueberry diapers and I really like them. I have their all-in-ones and their pocket diapers. I have NO leaks at night if I use a stuffable all-in-one and stuff it with a micro-fleece/hemp doubler. =) That is my receipe!
I do have a fuzzi bunz on order to try as well as a bumgenius 3.0. I am excited to try some fitted diapers and covers from thirsties too...I hear they are good for chunky thighs. (which - let's be honest - that's my child!!) So glad to hear that everyone likes the fuzzi bunz!
I just switched over to cloth wipes as well. I bought some flannel (7.99) and cut/sewed it into squares to fit into my wipe box. I think I made over 50. I am using warm water and a spray of Diaper Potion Lotion from Kissaluvs. Very easy/nice to toss right in the wash with your diaps. I also have some flushable, bio-degradeable liners that I use if I anticipate a "blow out". They are by ImseVimse and I think it was like 10.00 for 100. (and you can cut them in half because they are HUGE!)So 200...and they last quite a bit since we only wear them if "we know were in for it" - lol! They make a mess a lot easier.
As far as urine diapers - I just put them in a can with a washable liner and I don't cover it. Someone told me that sometimes the smell gets worse if you close the lid??? But I do wash every 1-2 days...maybe that is why it doesn't smell?? And I TOTALLY second the poster who said that the stink from sposies in the garage is 10x's worse!! Oh I hated that!! *ugh* My main motivation was economical, but I feel very "green" at the same time. And little L seems super comfy. =)
Thanks for the post!!
Way to go ladies!!!

B-Mama said...

Great thoughts all! I'll maybe try to get a good friend and user of Bum Genius to do a post soon and review the diapers. I'm so curious how they're working!

Katherine said...

I recently tried using a cloth diaper: a prefold folded with the sides underneath the middle in a thirsties velcro cover.

My daughter leaked and it woke her from her nap. I haven't tried again yet. I don't know if I did something wrong or not. She is almost 6 months and had the diaper on about 3 hours. Do they need to be changed sooner than that? Did I put it on wrong? I'm easily intimidated especially with a teething infant - don't need more naps interrupted by leaks - teething is bad enough.

Autumn said...

We use Clovers, Goodmamas, Loveybums, Baby Beehinds and Rumparoos (plus a few lonely ones) with no leaks. Clovers and Loveybums are my favorites. Both are very similar aside from clovers being side snap and LB front snap. They are soft, absorbent and cute. Rumparoos are a diaper I think everyone can love. They are a pocket diaper so could be trim or bulky depending on what you stuff it with. I use a prefold and it's still trim. When it comes to fitted diapers it's all about the cover. I prefer wool. I love my Luxe soaker and Sugar Peas side snap cover. Both awesome covers for day or night. I have a cloth diaper blog in addition to the blog ID I'm commenting with. It is
I have posts with my favorite diapers of each system.

Right Said Red said...

I change my cloth diapers every 2.5 hours or so...if I wait too long they do leak. It might be either that you waited too long or that the type of cloth diaper you were using wasn't ideal for your child's build. In addition, I have found that some cloth diapers leak more than others...and that is why we use fuzzi-bunz (very little leaking!)

Anyway, I am about to order more inserts for my cloth diapers. I *think* I will oder Joey-bunz hemparoos...but I have a couple of questions. Should I order the large for use with medium fuzzi-bunz? I think I ordered medium the last time and they were not long enough. Will large be too long?

Second, has anyone tried the new "premium" joey-bunz that are apparently thinnner (only 4 layers as opposed to 6 layers). Thoughts?

I will be using them with fuzzi-bunz...

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

I wanted to answer Katherine's question about how often to change the baby with a cloth diaper.

It all depends on the child and how much they wet...but a good rule of thumb is to change them every 2 hours. cloth is definitely not as absorbent even if you are using the most absorbent insert out there.

Another good rule of thumb is to put 2 inserts inside the diaper for nap time and bed time so you do not run the risk of disturbing the nap or night time my case i used the fuzzi bunz doubled up at night and i have never had a problem with leaks we could go the whole night.

hope this helps.

4ddintx said...

This conversation has me reconsidering my abandonment of cloth (much to the chagrin of dh). I'm a low maintenance prefold and cover (snappi or even pins!) sort of gal, but it's worked for us for almost 10 years. I've fallen off the cloth bandwagon with baby #5 due to the need for a more efficient washer and dryer, but I can manage since it's warm enough to hand dipes outside now.

If you have a REALLY heavy wetter (I did with dd#4) a disposable is sometimes the best option for night. If I put enough absorbency on her so she wouldn't leak, no pajamas would fit, her bottom was so large! I figured that I wasn't saving time, money, or the environment by washing her bedding 5+ times a week and just gave into the sposies for nighttime. So, everyone's mileage varies on that sort of thing.

Ann said...

b-mama - I'd love to hear what your friend has to say about bum Genius. I used my first fuzzi bunz today and can see why everyone likes them!! What insert have you found works the best with them?? For day time. Or you rs-red...

B-Mama said...

Ann, the only insert we've used with the FuzziBunz(at the rec. of a good source) was the JoeyBunz Hemparoo. I was also given at some point some "Little Lambs Doublers" which are hemp and are also awesome! I will get on having my friend comment on the BumGenius soon!

Ann said...

Awesome - Thanks!