In discussions with fellow new moms, I've found that many want to try cloth diapers on their babies, but don't know where to start. This article is adapted from a conversation I had with a friend who wanted to help a relative get started.
What brands have you tried? I used Bummis newborn system (covers and tiny organic pre-folds) for my daughter's first two weeks of life, then switched to the Flip hybrid one-size system when she was big enough to fit into them, at about eight pounds. I also tried the GroVia all-in-ones but found them to be harder to put on and harder to clean with a diaper sprayer. But I know someone else who was perfectly happy with them. Another friend of mine really liked Fuzzibunz.
What problems do you have with cloth diapering? The biggest problem I encountered with cloth diapering was that my HE washing machine wasn't getting the diapers clean, since it uses less water, causing less friction and scrubbing action. Also, if the diapers are not cared for properly, they can begin to stink even after washing. Thankfully it is fixable and preventable. Cloth diapers should ideally be washed every two days to avoid bacterial growth which breaks down the fibers of the fabric. Soaking the diapers in detergent before washing will prevent the ammonia smell from lingering. I trick my HE washer by pausing in the middle of the gentle cycle to let the diapers soak fully for an hour or so before washing.
What are the benefits of using cloth? Beside the fact that cloth is cheaper than disposable in the long-run, they are made of non-toxic materials which is better for baby. I am contributing less waste to landfills. Cloth diapers hold moisture differently than disposables and therefore encourage early potty training. Plus, I never have to rush to the store just because I ran out of diapers!
Do you have leaking or diaper rash problems at all? They don't leak if they fit right and if you use cloth-friendly rash creams. Most store-bought creams cause cloth diapers to become less absorbent. Coconut oil is a good alternative, or specifically cloth-friendly creams such as CJ's or LuSa Organics Booty Balm. We had rash problems at first only because we were first-time parents and didn't always change our baby's diaper immediately. Now that she tells us when her diaper is wet, we can change it promptly.
What detergent to you use? I have used BumGenius, Tiny Bubbles, and Rockin' Green. I found that many mainstream and even some "earth-friendly" detergents are not good for cloth diapers. Anything containing fragrances, dyes, whiteners, brighteners, or enzymes should be avoided.
How often do you "strip" the diapers? In the cloth diapering world, stripping is the process of washing the diapers with blue Dawn dish soap and chlorine bleach to get the ammonia smell out and to improve absorbency. I have never done this, because I don't want to bleach my diapers. Instead, I soak the diapers in Rockin' Green detergent and hot water, treat them with Funk Rock according to the directions on the package, and then wash as usual. It only seems necessary to do every few months.
Where do you go for more information on cloth diapering? I follow a few pages on Facebook and follow along on discussions to find out about what other people are doing with cloth diapers. Good pages to "like" include Dirty Diaper Laundry, All About Cloth Diapers, and product pages for specific brands. Read this article for more help on getting started!
"Like" Lisa on Facebook at New Moms.