confessions of a cloth diaper convert

As the mom of six, I’ve shocked a lot of people in my lifetime. But I have to say, when I told people I was switching to cloth with our sixth baby, there were many an audible gasp, followed by a head shake and a shoulder pat.

It’s okay. I’m used to being called crazy. I do it well.

Several of you have left comments and emailed me about making the switch, so I thought I’d dish with an honest look at how it’s going. Plus, you’ll hear about the organizing bag I’ve come to love.

It’s easier than you think. No really. Perhaps, in full disclosure, I should tell you that laundry doesn’t scare me. I HAVE SIX KIDS. So, the washing machine and I? We’re pretty much BFFs. The extra loads of diapers haven’t really cramped my style. I typically do a load every other day. Once we figured out the styles of diapers we liked (I’ll tackle that in a sec), then my mom and I hit the store and the internet to stock up on our favs. Can I just tell you how fun it was to go cloth diaper shopping with my mom? She was amazed at how much they had changed since I was baby. That’s right, this bum was cloth diapered. My mom. The original hippy. Either that, or I was 70s kid. I digress.

It’s harder than you think. There are like 8-bazillion things that come with cloth diapers these days and I felt super overwhelmed at first. My best advice? Take a class. I mean it. We are blessed with a Baby Earth here in Austin and their one-hour class really helped me wrap my brain around this thing called cloth diapering. {not paid to say that, I just gained so much from the class} There are tons of overviews on YouTube and Pinterest. Pick a couple, read them and then stop googling. You will be at the computer for weeks if you don’t. The class touched on types of diapers, washing tips, a suggested purchase list, how to use all that stuff and how to actually fasten the diaper to your kid’s bum!

Wait. Because I’m not planning on having a dozen more kids, we opted to not purchase any newborn-sized diapers. We just did disposables until Gianna was about five weeks old (and about 8 pounds) and then we went all in. The weekend of her baptism, no less. Hey, I go big or go home. For us, that was the right amount of time to get over the newborn hump and feel energized enough to tackle a new adventure.

Disposables are not evil. When we took our week-long family vacation, I toyed with the idea of cloth diapering – for about three seconds. We left cloth at home and used disposables. Yes, I could’ve searched out washing machines, but no, I did not need that stress. I will say, I was pretty darn happy to come home to cloth because Gianna had more leaks and blowouts with disposables than we’ve ever had with cloth!

Compromise is necessary. Because Scott is the middle-of-the-night diaper man, his one request was to make it easy. So, at night we use either pockets or all-in-ones. They are the cloth version of disposables when it comes to changing a diaper. During the day, I’m pretty much exclusive prefolds/covers. If your man isn’t having the cloth, perhaps you can strike a balance. Our system seems to be working for us.

The stash takes work. When I first looked at cloth, the store recommended that I choose a couple of each diaper and try them out before I committed to a specific kind. Turns out, I like them all, but in this order: prefolds/covers, pocket and all-in-ones (AIOs). I’ve since added a few more, tried out a few brands and experimented some. If I had to choose a favorite? Rumparooz covers. Those are awesome. And, I’m not a huge fan of Bum Genius Elemental. Right now, my stash is 12 prefolds, 8 covers, 8 pockets and 4 AIOs. We’re still newbies in the cloth diapering world. Talk to me again when we introduce solid foods!

Organization is key. I’m Type A and people like me need order. Enter, the large Baby Bag from Lily Jade*. I was expecting it to be a little sturdier, but I had the perfect sized basket to insert it into and since then, it’s been a keeper. The large pocket in the middle holds my covers and prefolds. The side pockets hold baby wash, snappis and cloth wipes. This basket is my daytime cloth diapering caddy, so I store the other diapers in our bedroom. So far, I am really loving it.

lily jade_063

lily jade_068

Did I mention that I make my own bum wash, too? Don’t keel over. It isn’t that hard. 2 cups of water, 2 T. olive oil and 2 T. baby wash. Mix and then pour into spray bottles. Mine are from the travel section at The Container Store. I have a smaller one that locks that I store in the diaper bag.

Let little hands help. The kids have been awesome helpers. Honestly, when they go back to school next week I will be wandering the streets I’ll be so lost. They’ve been outstanding diaper washers, folders and go-getters. Very soon, they’ll be changing those cute things.

Avoid the crazy. So, who knew that people camped out on the Internet and engaged in bidding wars for diapers? Y’all. That’s nuts. To be clear, these hold poop and pee. The main goals here are to reduce landfill waste, reduce the pocketbook hit and be a little greener. Paying big bucks for something like a diaper is crazy talk. I don’t buy it. <— see what I did there?

Figure out a wash routine. My best advice? Ask the locals. You can troll the Facebook pages and Pinterest boards like I did, oooor, you can just ask  your local cloth diapering mommas what works for them. They wash in the same water and know what works and what doesn’t. For us, it’s a wash in warm with no detergent, followed by a hot wash with detergent and then a quick rinse in cold. I’ve been using Rockin’ Green and so far, so good.

A few items to note. We have not left Gianna with a sitter yet, so I’m hoping that tutorial with the babysitter goes well. We will likely stick to pockets or AIOs when we leave her in someone else’s care. She’s still breastfeeding so the diapers aren’t horrible. She hasn’t been sick yet and she’s not too squirmy. Bottom line? I still have lots to learn in this cloth gig. But so far?

I’m loving it. And I never thought I’d say that.

*I received a free Baby Bag in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are 100% mine but as always, I only share the products I adore.

18 Comments

  1. Verdina on August 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

    As I told you when you were contemplating this move, I had to chuckle a little because when my babies were born (1965 & 1966) the only choice was diaper service or do-it-yourself. And, we moved into a house when my younger one was 3 months old and we couldn’t afford a dryer. So, it was up and down the basement stairs and outside to hang every day. What fun! (I did lose several pounds, and that was a good thing).

    Memories!

  2. Katie on August 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I have mixed feelings still about ours (probably doesn’t help that we just had our first real cloth diaper blow-out all over my skirt 🙂 …but at the same time, we’ve had a lot more disposable blowouts). We are pretty much the same–we started our little girl around 6 weeks (so only four weeks ago!), and we have 12 prefolds w/ 6 covers, and 11 pockets. I favor the pockets, the prefolds seem like a bit of a pain for me… I’ve wondered if I’m folding them right–any recommendation of a youtube video/tutorial on how to do prefolds and covers?

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      I think I just googled “folding prefolds” and found a great one on the different type of folds. We use the “newspaper” and it’s working for us. I know there are lots more, but why mess with what works?!

    • Karen on August 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      You might be doing this already, but using a Snappi cuts way down on blowouts. Also, if diaper is wet, it’s more likely to blow out.

      • Kathryn on August 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

        I started using snappis a few weeks ago and I love them!

  3. Stacie on August 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I started cloth diapering for the first time with number 9!!! He was born April 21, 2014. We started as soon as his cord fell off (about a week). He was 8 lbs. 10 oz. at birth so my one size diapers fit well right away. I am doing about the same as you… I use prefolds and flats with covers and keep a few pockets stuffed for when my husband changes the diaper. Washing has been a cinch! I do rinse out all the diapers before putting them in the pail whether they had pee or poop… just seems like the right thing for me do. It is fun to talk cloth diapering, I don’t know many personally who do it, or if they do they are quiet about it. We went for a day trip to an amusement park and used disposables, it was the only time he has gotten a rash!

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Funny you say that, because the only time Gianna got a rash was when we used disposables, too. It was during vacation. As soon as I switched back to cloth, rash gone!

  4. Bridget on August 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Kathryn! I am also a cloth-diapering mama (of twins!) and I wanted to give you some tips about your wash routine based on my (limited) experience:

    1. You don’t have to wash in hot or warm. I soak/wash/rinse in cold, because I use pockets and the PUL was starting to disintegrate/pull away. Keep that in mind with your expensive pockets/AIOs. Prefolds are extremely durable and are prob OK, but the covers aren’t. My diapers are sparkling clean breath time, even with 15-month-old solid-eating poo.

    2. I had an issue with mold while hang-drying my diapers, so I now add 1/4 c Oxiclean to the soak cycle and machine-dry the inserts, as they get the wettest. No more mold! The Oxiclean makes them super-bright and clean, too.

    That’s my two-cents. Love your blog!

    Bridget

    • Bridget on August 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      *sparkling clean EVERY time

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Oh, that is good advice. I’ll have to give that a try, Bridget. Mold hasn’t been an issue for us. The Texas summers dry my diapers up pretty quick. I usually machine dry the inserts, elementals, wipes and prefolds.

  5. Karen on August 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I love cloth diapers and I love that you love them too! My third babe is 3 weeks and we are using the same set of prefolds that I used for #1 and 2 plus my niece. So they are on kid #4 and good as they day I got them. (Just a thought for the folks who are just starting out…). I have 3 dozen newborn (orange edge from Green Mountain) and yellow, and two dozen red edge.

    I use prefolds for about the first 4-6 months and then switch to sized pockets/Flips. Pockets (and anything with PUL can make it through about 3 kids depending on how carefully you treat them, avoiding heat in the wash and the dryer is super helpful for that.

    My first kiddo was a super awesome pooper, nice and solid and we kept her in cloth until age 3 when she pee trained. My second has these horrid BM’s (no food problems, that often gets suggested) and so we switched him to disposable around 18 months when we and daycare couldn’t handle it anymore.

    I live in california where our water is as hard as can be, I just throw them in on a regular wash and rinse cycle with Rockin Green and Oxyclean. We used Charlie’s at first but developed ammonia smell in the inserts after about a year.

    If they get a little stale smelling, maybe about. 2-3x a year, we let them soak in Bac-Out which solves the problem.

  6. Chrissy on August 13, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    We loved ours too! I don’t fit the mold for your typical “Earth Mother” but my little red head was sensitive and we loved the money saving and that they cut down on the amount of waste. We stuck with Flips instead of switching around and I found that one of their organic inserts with a regular insert was enough to get her through the night. Now that we don’t need them I miss her big nighttime diaper booty. I still think La is amazed that we made it, but she was always less rashy with her cloth. I made my own diaper rash cream too, so if you ever need that recipe let me know.

    • Kathryn on August 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      For the sake of all my readers, post that recipe Chrissy!

  7. Laura S. on August 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I just started cloth diapering my first who’s now 6 weeks old! I’ve been going through a lot of frustrating trial and error, but think I’ve finally started figuring out stuff that works, except for avoiding the information overload part :). What are your favorite covers? All I have right now are Thirsties…

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Rumparooz, hands down. They’re pricier (I only have 2) but I love them. I have Thirsties and a few Flips. Both are great. I have one Bummis and it’s probably my least favorite, but it does the trick.

  8. natalie on March 3, 2015 at 9:07 am

    When considering the cost of the diaper, energy from washer/dryer use, purchasing extra detergent, is cloth diapering still significantly cheaper? I wouldn’t mind trying this, but I will be a working mom and baby will be in daycare. I would love to be a SAHM, but we can’t afford it 🙁 great blog!

    • Kathryn on March 4, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      After diapering six kids, yes, this is cheaper for our family. I already do 10-12 loads of laundry a week and so the extra 3 I do for diapers isn’t a huge difference in terms of our water/time usage. I do buy special detergent, but getting it on Amazon (free shipping!) isn’t that expensive. I buy one bag ($15) every two months. Not bad. I can only speak of its ease as a SAHM, not a working one. But there are tons of websites/blogs out there of moms who are working and cloth diapering. So, I’d reach out to them. Facebook has some great pages, too, where you can ask every question under the sun. Some people really love their cloth diapers!

    • Karen on March 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      We are in CA, I can tell you that washing and drying cloth diapers is a drop in the bucket compared to the water (and hot water) used for our grass/yard watering. So no, it’s not much of an expense there. And whether it’s cheaper than paper dipes really depends on how much you plan to spend for each option. Inexpensive cloth diapers are definitely much much cheaper than Seventh Generation or Honest, but probably not as much savings compared to Target brand. And expensive cloth diapers, well, are expensive.

      I used CDs for two of my kids at daycare. The centers I spoke with were hit or miss with regards to whether they would take them but all the home daycares I spoke with were fine as long as they were easy to use. I sent a days worth of pocket diapers and a dry bag and picked up the bag at the end of the day. It is definitely an extra step though when packing and unpacking the daycare bag. Good luck!

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