My Experience with Cloth Diapers

There are lots of articles online about the benefits of cloth diapers and the pros and cons of cloth vs. disposable – this is not really going to be one of them. If you are looking for an article about why you should (or shouldn’t) use cloth diapers here are some great starting places:

Today I just want to share with you about my own personal experience with cloth diapers.

Before my son was born my husband and I did our research and decided that we wanted to use cloth diapers. I was excited about using cloth diapers. But, those first few months after my son was born I felt really intimidated by them.

When my son was first born we were in the states staying with family (you can read about my birth story here). At the time I only had two cloth diapers. One of them was a bumGenius One-size all-in-one and the other was a pocket diaper.  I remember looking at my cloth diapers and feeling totally lost and unsure how to use it. Somehow in the process of suitcases and staying with other people I lost the instructions they had come with. I tried them out a time or two, but I just felt unsure. So, I bought organic disposable diapers. I felt sad about it, but I just didn’t want to deal with figuring out the cloth ones.

When we came back to Prague my dear friend generously gave us all of her old cloth diapers (since they weren’t planning on having any more kids).  The one’s she gave us were fitted cloth diapers with covers. She took time to show me exactly how to use them – she even let me watch her put one on. She also walked me through how to wash them and care for them. It was exactly what I needed. She made it so easy for me. From that point on I was sold! I love my cloth diapers.

I love that I don’t have to spend a fortune on disposables, I love that I don’t have piles of dirty diapers I have to take out to the trash. I love that I’m not filling up the landfills with diapers. I love that I’m just putting natural cloth on my son’s bottom.

So, here are some thoughts about the three different kinds of cloth diapers I’ve tried and what I think about them:

  • Fitted diapers with covers: This is what my friend gave us. I actually really like that these ones are sized. We started with the small and now he’s wearing the medium size. I like that because I feel like they actually fit him a little better. They also don’t seem quite as bulky as the other cloth diapers because they are made just for his size. Also, because the diaper and cover are separate it gives me the option to put the diaper on without the cover if I want – which I really like. I’m sure you are asking yourself why I would ever want to have him wear just the diaper and not the cover, so I’ll tell you. I like that when he’s just wearing the diaper I can tell right away when he’s gone to the bathroom which makes it so that I can change him right away. I’ve found this to be helpful when he’s had a diaper rash because he doesn’t stay in the diaper for too long. It also lets me know when he’s going, which helps me to become more in tune with his coos and signals. We have considered ECing, but I’ve never really got up the guts to do it. For me having just the diaper without the cover on him feels like a step towards ECing and I like that. One thing I don’t like as much about these one’s is that you really have to make sure that all of the diaper is tucked inside the cover or it will leak – it’s not that big a deal and definitely isn’t hard to do, but now that Thad is bigger and moving around so much I sometimes miss little bits of the diaper sticking out from the cover and then we end up with leaks.
  • Pocket diaper: I like this one a lot too but for different reasons. I feel like these one’s are the least likely to leak – but maybe that’s just in my head, I’ve never really tested it.
  • bumGenius All-in-One: Right now this one is my favorite and I would love a few more of these. Now that Thaddeus is mobile and crawling he hates staying still long enough for me to change his diaper. I have often put diapers on him while he’s in a crawling position instead of on his back and the all in one makes doing that so much easier. It doesn’t take as long to just throw this one on him and Velcro it as it does to put a liner in the pocket diaper and then put it on him or as it does to put the diaper on him and then put the cover over it. So, for right now this one is great. I do feel though that when he was littler this one didn’t fit quite as well and was really bulky, but now it seems to be fine.

Questions a reader recently asked me about cloth diapers:

"Did you do all cloth ones or cloth ones with flushable/disposable liner in the middle? Do they have such a thing?"

They do have disposable liners and we have used these some. We didn’t use them at all at first, but I do sometimes use them now. I particularly use them in the mornings since I know that is when Thaddeus will usually have a bowel movement. Using the liner at that time helps minimize the mess a little bit.

As a side note that is sort of related to this but not really, I also use cloth wipes and I LOVE them and have actually found them easier when I’m using cloth diapers. When I’m at home I just keep the cloth wipes in a little bowl with some water and a bit of baking soda and/or salt so they are ready to use when I want them. If we go out I throw a few damp one’s in a zip lock bag and put it in the diaper bag.

"Do you still use regular diapers when you’re out and about so when you change it you can just toss the diaper when you're not at home?"

I actually use cloth when we go out and it’s not hard at all. You should get what’s known as a wet bag. Basically it’s a zippered bag that has fabric on the outside and a leak proof lining on the inside. You just put your dirty diaper and wipes in the wet bag and then throw it in your diaper bag no worries. The wet bags are also washable so every once in a while, when it seems they need it, you can throw them in the wash as well.

One exception to this is when we are traveling. I use disposable diapers when we travel. It’s just so much easier when you are at hotels and staying at other people’s homes.

"If you use the cloth diapers do you always do a separate laundry load for them? Do the old one just stick around for 3-4 days till you get enough to do a full load?"

Yes, I always wash them in a separate load of laundry. I wash them through a cold rinse without soap (basically as a cold rinse to keep stains from setting to badly) and then wash them through a warm/hot cycle with soap. I usually hang them to dry. Often I do a load of diapers every third day or so. In the mean time I keep mine in a bucket, although you can also get diapers pails made just for cloth diapers. It’s usually recommended to keep them in some water and a little vinegar to avoid stains from setting into the diapers. The covers for the two piece diapers don’t need to be washed after each use – as long as they are just wet/damp you can just hang them up to dry and use them again. After a few uses they will start to smell a bit and then they should be washed. I wash covers about once a week. I will say this in addition, cloth diapers are a little messier than disposables, but they aren’t nearly as messy as you may think. Sure, you will have to touch soiled diapers, but all parents end up with their child’s waste on them at some point or another, whether they use cloth diapers or not. You just clean up well and it’s not that big of a deal.

"Do they leak more than the regular diapers?"

Well, yes. I think they do. But, if you change your child regularly then it’s really not a big deal and you don’t really need to worry about leaks at all. I will say though that in the past few weeks I have started to use disposable diapers on my son at night because he will always leak out of the cloth diapers at night. If I put him in a cloth diaper I need to change him three times during the night in order to avoid leaks and that wakes him up a lot and breaks up his sleep which isn’t good. So, I will usually put him in a disposable diaper before bed so that I don’t have to think about it during the night. This has worked really well for us and we will probably continue doing this at least for the time being. Alright, well, hopefully that is helpful for some of you out there considering cloth diapers. Using cloth diapers is a mixed bag with some pros and some cons, but overall I have never regretted using cloth diapers, I will use them again with future children, and I would highly recommend using cloth diapers to any friend who is pregnant.

What are your thoughts on cloth diapers? Have you used them? What did you think of them? What kinds of cloth diapers were your favorites?

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman