Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cloth Diapers!

I’ve had a lot of ladies ask me about cloth diapers, so I thought I’d write out a little guide. If you’re not interested, please don’t read any more! It’ll be quite boring.

Tova started wearing newborn disposable diapers. We used the package given to us by the hospital until they were all gone. Then we had purchased some Seventh Generation newborn disposables to use until Tova’s umbilical cord fell off. Well, the Seventh Generation diapers fit terribly. They’re too small and don’t cover the area above the leg – just the tab goes over and cuts into the skin. So I don’t recommend those at all. When her cord fell off, we started using gDiapers. The size small is a good size for newborns. However, we found that gdiapers were too much trouble. If you want more info on why they’re too much trouble, just ask.

Then we started to use our cloth diapers. We had two FuzziBunz size small, two Happy Heinys one-size, and several bumGenius one-size diapers. The FuzziBunz and Happy Heinys both have too large of leg holes for a little one. Eventually, she’ll be able to use them, but I don’t recommend buying either because you’d have to buy something else to use until your kiddo’s legs get chunkier. We LOVE the bumGenius diapers and highly recommend them. They are one-size, which means you can use them from newborn until about 35 pounds. They have snaps on the front to decrease and increase the sizing. Here is an information page on them.

We chose to use cloth diapers for two reasons. 1: they’re cheaper than buying disposables. You’ll spend most of the money up front and then do laundry for the duration, but in the end, it’ll save you about a thousand dollars. 2: disposable diapers take an estimated 500 years to disintegrate. Here’s an interesting quote: "AGM [absorbent gelling materials – used in disposable diapers] is linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys. Environmentally, these diapers require as much water, energy and fuel to produce as any other single-use diaper." They’re also made of chlorine, which you probably don’t want on your baby’s body 24/7, and plastic, which isn’t biodegradable.

Ok, to get started, you’ll need about 2 dozen bumGenius 3.0 one-size cloth diapers. We have 17 right now and plan to buy some more. 17 gets you about a day and a half before you have to do laundry. That means you’re doing a load every day. The best plan is to get enough to do laundry every other day and have a few left clean to hold you over until you get around to finishing the laundry load. You can get them HERE and HERE. They’re also available individually at Target stores sometimes – they’ll be at the end of one of the aisles in the baby section. is a great site and store. Their bumGenius product page is HERE. Their cloth diaper 411 page HERE.

You also want to buy cloth bottom wipes HERE. We have three dozen but we’re going to buy more when we buy more diapers. So I suggest 4 dozen. They also have new bamboo ones, and I tend to recommend bamboo. Bamboo fabric is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties, is to some extent antibacterial, is highly absorbent, and is a sustainable product.

You’ll want several bottles of the bumGenius bottom cleaner to use with your cloth wipes. Keep one in your diaper bag. Spray your baby’s bottom and use the wipes to get it nice and clean. I also find that this reduces diaper rash, because you don’t leave the bottom wet, like you do with disposable wipes. You can also just use water.

Your baby will still get diaper rash – and you can’t let diaper creams get directly onto the diapers. So you have to buy fleece stay-dry doublers. You don’t use it as an insert. You put it in between the bottom and the diaper. Not only does it allow you to use diaper rash creams, it keeps a lot of the wetness away from the skin. These are also good as your baby sleeps longer at night and needs extra absorbency.

Other items you’ll need:
-diaper pail liner
-13 gallon trash can with lid (and foot pedal)
-All Free and Clear laundry detergent (**your detergent can’t have any dyes, softeners, perfumes, etc.)
-Nellie’s Dryer Balls (**use these in the dryer – remember to not put any dryer sheets in the dryer!)
-Wet bags for your diaper bag (to put dirty diapers in until you get home)

We bought 6 extra newborn inserts, but I don’t think they’re necessary.

Now that you have everything, here’s what you do: wash and dry the diapers separately from the inserts with one-fourth the recommended detergent on any temperature setting. After you wash the diapers separately, you can wash them with other fabrics (the inserts and bottom wipes), so you’ll never have to separate them again. Wash the inserts (I just threw them in with Tova’s regular laundry).

When those are all clean, snap the diapers to the “small” size if they aren’t already. (You don’t need to unsnap these to launder.) Then put in the inserts. Store them by your changing table. Use the cloth wipes with either water or the bottom cleaner and put the used ones into the diaper pail (your 13 gallon trash can with the pail liner inside of it). For the diaper, you can spray it with an odor remover or not. We bought it, but won’t buy more when we’re out. We don’t think it’s terribly necessary. You’ll be doing laundry every other day, so there won’t be a strong odor. Then remove the insert and drop the diaper and insert in separately. I keep some antibacterial hand sanitizer at my changing table for after I pull out the insert. You won’t get very dirty, I promise. And if you think you will, save the diaper for later, when you can go to a sink to wash your hands.

Don’t put anything other than diapers, inserts, cloth wipes, and maybe odor remover spray into your diaper pail. No water or anything like that!

When your diaper pail is full and you’re running out, take the full pail liner to your washing machine. Put the opening into the washer and shake everything out, then flip the liner inside-out (it’ll be dirty inside, so be careful or wash your hands afterward) and put it in. 1: Use a quarter of the recommended amount of detergent for the load size and do a cold rinse. 2: Use a quarter of the recommended amount of detergent for the load size and do a HOT full wash. 3: Use no detergent and do a warm rinse. They should be sparkling clean. Then put them in the dryer on a warm cycle with the dryer balls or nothing at all. But you’ll have static if you don’t use the balls. (Hint: turn the pail liner right side out before you put it in the dryer. The dryer balls tend to get caught up with it.) Then just stuff the diapers with the inserts and start again.

It’s a great system and I hope you do it and stick with it! Let me know if you have any questions!

love, k


Jessica said...

What a great post Kallie! I hope it inspires more people to use cloth diapers :) I know I'll be coming back to this when the day comes.

Melissa Crouch Stewart said...

I have to admit that I did not read the whole thing, since I have no baby, however,

KUDOS for encouraging the use of cloth diapers, and for sticking with using them yourself! Hooray for caring for God's creation in little ways.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like an awful lot of work! More power to you, though!

Heather said...

Hi Kallie,
I am a friend of Heather Conkin, and she referred me to your blog since I am expecting my first child in 6 weeks and I am wanting to go the cloth or hybrid diaper route. I was considering the gdiapers, but noticed you said they were too much trouble. I am very interested in the details of what your experience with the gdiaper was. I am going to research the bumgenius ones more now too. Thanks so much! Great info on the blog!

d & k Buckmaster said...

Hi, Heather's friend! I'm glad she sent you to me!
I have a follow-up post on this, too, here:

The gDiapers seem like an amazing thing. And they could be. But they're just not quite there. My main complaint is that the disposable insert is incredibly uncomfortable. After being used to fleece lining, the scratchy paper is very irritating to Tova's skin. Also, the removable liner rubs in the crease between the pelvis and leg (where it's supposed to be). In the beginning, when baby poo is watery, the g does nothing to stop it from getting over the entire diaper, and everywhere else. You'll have to wash the entire thing all the time, though you're only supposed to have to wash the liner. And since you won't buy many covers, assuming you'll only need extra liners, it'll be a constant chore to add on top of everything else. Also, the edge around the liner holds moisture (and poo particles). So if it's just a wet diaper and you throw away the paper and put in a new one, the diaper isn't completely dry, which adds to diaper rash (urine isn't a great thing to have on your skin all day!) There's also no way to keep the disposable insert from bunching, so poopy diapers are always a bit of a mess. They now make cloth inserts, but that will only help the skin sensitivity, and you'd have to do more of a hybrid diaper wash, with a diaper pail. has some new options, which are much like gDiapers. I'm a bit skeptical of them for the same reasons I don't enjoy using gDiapers. Flip and Econobum are the new products. I haven't used or seen either, so my reservations come from looking at their diagrams and comparing to g and bumGenius (what we use and love). Looking at the flip, I think the seaming will be much better than the g (tighter). But the snap closure concerns me, as velcro is hard enough with a tossing baby. Also, the liner would bunch, so I see you having to replace them every time, just like bumGenius. These are one-size, which is better than gDiapers (which you have to keep buying as your baby outgrows them). If you plan to use the flip system like bumGenius and wash each after use and then buy the disposable inserts for vacation, I see this being a good option. But the only way to keep the insert from bunching it to you a diaper where the insert is inside the diaper, not laying on top.

We just got back into town from a weekend away and I took all of our cloth diapers (washed them just before we left) and also our gDiapers. My mom babysat Tova and tends to like using the g's (I think mostly because she helped buy them, along with my MIL). After taking Tova on a walk around a festival, she noticed that they had rubbed her skin too much, especially coupled with heat, and stopped using them.

So overall, we love bumGenius diapers. The only complaint I have about them is the velcro not staying new, but that's to be expected. Let me know if you have any more questions!!


Heather said...

Thanks, Kallie!

This is such helpful info! I do have two more quick questions. First, do you use anything in conjunction with your wet bags when you're away from home to eliminate odor issues, or has this even been an issue? Second, have you used anything similar to the bumGenius diaper sprayer? If not, do you simply empty the soiled diaper into the pail and launder from there? I was just curious if it was necessary to empty the diapers of any waste before laundering. Thanks again :) I only have 6 wks left before my due date, and I feel like I'm running so behind!

d & k Buckmaster said...

You're welcome! I enjoy talking about this stuff here because I found the blog posts with someone's experience were the most helpful for me when I was researching diapers for Tova.

I haven't found that there are issues with odor, pretty much in general. When we go out, I use the little water proof zipper bags to put all the dirty stuff in. When we get home, I empty the bag into the diaper pail and put the bag itself into the regular wash. For out of town, I just take the diaper pail bag out of the trash can, twist the top, and fold it over. I did buy a bottle of the Odor Remover spray, but I've barely used it. It's good to have on hand if you have a particularly smelly diaper, but it's not a necessity.

I haven't used a sprayer or anything. This issues depends on a lot. Tova has been breastfed the whole time, so her poop was watery until about 6 months old when I started giving her some solids. Watery poop can always go right into the wash (and it smells almost sweet, so no bad odor). My understanding is that formula fed babies have smellier poop from the get-go, and I'm assuming it's also a firmer consistency. Now, if Tova has a poopy diaper, I fold the dirty one over and set it on top of the diaper pail. I change her diaper, and set her down to play. Then I take the diaper to the toilet. It's it's pretty solid, it'll usually just plop into the toilet. If it's a bit more sticky or piecey, I'll use toilet paper and grab as much as I can. I flush and then go put the diaper in the pail as usual. I don't like the idea of dunking or buying the sprayer because then I have to take a wet diaper from the bathroom into the nursery and hope it doesn't drip everywhere. Also for poop, there are disposable liners that you can buy. It's a really thin piece of woven paper that you lay on top of the diaper. I bought some of those and won't use them any more. They're just as scratchy as the gDiapers. I use them to grab up poo sometimes now.

Feel free to ask more questions. I'll try to answer them asap so you can hurry and order everything! You'll have plenty of time, so don't worry. You really don't end up figuring anything out until after the baby arrives anyway! :)

Heather Smith said...

Hi Kallie,

Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I have been using the bumGenius onesize diapers since Elijah was about 4 wks old. I absolutely love them and have turned several friends on to this fantastic alternative to disposables. Even my mom has been raving about it to her coworkers and friends who are having babies. I just wanted to say thanks for putting this info out there, it was a great help to me! I am so happy with our investment and Eli hasn't had a single instance of diaper rash! YAY!

dk Buckmaster said...

That is so wonderful! Thank you for letting me know. It's great to see so many people taking a leap and trying out cloth diapers and loving them! I'm so glad I could help! :)

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