Cloth diapers: How to wash them so they are actually clean

I have been cloth diapering for over two and a half years now.  I have cleaned my fair share of diapers.  So this advice is legit.  DSC03088 I will first start off with saying that I have well water and I have a top loader Our water is full of iron and minerals and who knows what else.  Therefore, I had to try a lot in order to get the perfect wash routine.  And as for a top loader vs. a front loader — don’t you need water to get things clean?  I don’t understand how the “energy efficient” washers work — and in my experience, at my mother in law’s house, they don’t work all that well.

What didn’t work: Allen’s Naturally and Rockin’ Green (yes, even the Funk Rock).

What I am using now: This is not a “recommended” brand, but it has gotten my diapers cleaner and brighter and whiter than they have ever been.

Tide Free and Gentle!

DSC02241 Here is my down and dirty routine:

  1. The child goes in the diaper.  If it is pee, I throw it in my hamper with a diaper pail liner (I use a white trash can that has a foot pedal).  If it is solid, I dump it into the toilet or use some toilet paper to scrape it into the toilet, then it goes into the hamper.  (A diaper sprayer did not work from me, it sprays the stuff all over = gross.) 
  2. Once my diaper pail is full, I bring the diaper pail liner down to the basement and throw it all in the washer (I have a beloved top loader (I really don’t know how a front loader, energy efficient washer gets these diapers clean!!)  I cold rinse.
  3. I hot wash, cold rinse with 1/8 cup detergent – a little goes a long way!  (I only have the option to cold rinse, but I would hot rinse if I could!  Then I might cut one of the rinses!)
  4. I hot wash, cold rinse with nothing.
  5. I dry in the dryer (gasp!) on low.

DSC02247 “Stripping” your diapers once every month or two should be part of your regular routine — this is because your diapers may be getting leaky due to build-up or they just may need a good sterilizing:

  1. Add 1/4 tsp dish soap and 1/4 cup bleach to your hot wash, cold rinse with detergent
  2. Continue to hot wash, cold rinse until there are no more suds in the washer.  (About 5-8 times.)

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 Happy diapering and washing!
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Cloth diapers: What I’d buy if I could do it all over again

Tomorrow, April 20th, is The Great Cloth Diaper Change!!  Saving the world, one cloth diaper at a time!!

I have been cloth diapering for over two and a half years now. I can honestly say that I love it as much now as when I started.

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See?!  I now have a boy and girl stash (two children in diapers, for me, did not mean washing twice as much, so I had to buy a pink, pink, pink stash when my daughter was born!)

I began my cloth diaper journey with diapers bought even before I was pregnant. Crazy, right? Well, I thought that I was being prepared — because they were on sale. I bought many brands, all different kinds, super cute ones.

And they all worked, but as I grew more experience with cloth diapers, I realized that not all brands or diapers are created equal. For example, many mamas will tell you that the organic cotton will protect your baby’s bum from rash. It was the opposite for my sensitive-bottomed little guy, so out went all of organic cottons diapers and in with the stay-dry polyester.

So I ended up having to sell a lot of what I had. This isn’t too difficult, just head on over to DiaperSwappers.com and try to navigate your way through that mess :/ The site is wonderful, but it is difficult to understand at first. I sold all that I didn’t want, though, so it was nice to get (most) of my money back.  You can also buy gently used diapers on this site which is great if you want to take a test run or buy a whole stash on super sale!  Please let me know if you have questions and I will try to help you!

So on to what I wish I would have bought, had I known then what I know now, at the beginning.

If you’re looking for the lowest price, then prefolds and covers are what you’ll need.  You’ll need at least 4 covers per size (from x-small to large — about $12 each+) and about 24 prefolds ($1.20 each).

But prefolds are not convenient.  I don’t like them.  But I do use them for baby naked time and changing poop time, but that’s it.

If I could do it all over again, I would purchase 24 of my hands-down favorite diaper….

Blueberry Simplex.  (The brand is formerly known as Swaddlebees.)  This diaper has an organic cotton soaker , is very absorbent, and has an attached stay-dry insert that can go on top — where your baby’s bum touches.  (No stuffing the insert in the diaper!)  So you can choose cotton or polyester for closest to you baby!  Blueberry has adorable prints for boys and girls (a must!).  I love this because of the convenience (much less folding time) and they are not too bulky.  I’m sad to say I only have one, but I will be buying more when I find a good deal!

I should add that all of the below are One-Size diapers, which means that you can snap the diapers to become smaller, medium, large, as your baby grows (8-35 pounds)!  This truly is the way to go (versus “sized” or “perfect” diapers).  The exception is the newborn stage because most of the diapers really aren’t a good fit until about 10 pounds, in my humble opinion.

Also, you may choose between snap or velcro (hook/loop) closures.  I favor snap because the velcro sticks to everything in the washer/dryer!

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And the second brand that I love for convenience (no stuffing!) is Freetime by BumGenius.  This runs a close second to my beloved Simplex for the simple reason that it is a bit more bulky than the Simplex.  But!  I use this for my night-time diaper for my baby girl and it works great!  No leaks so far, and she is almost 7 months old!  There are so many great colors to choose from and BumGenius is a brand that you can trust.

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Pocket diapers are wonderful.  You can stuff them with as much absorbency as you need (i.e. a microfiber insert — what it comes with — and one or two hemp inserts for night time).  But!  The stuffing becomes monotonous!  If I could do it all over again, I would have bought all Simplex and Freetimes (All in Ones).  (Below is a BumGenius one-size 4.0 — which is the most recent version — I also love, yes, the Blueberry pocket diaper!  These two diapers make up the vast majority of my boy and girl stashes!)

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The only downside to All in Ones over Pockets are that they are a bit bulkier:  (However, the Simplex are the same thickness as a regular pocket!)

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I have discussed prefolds above, but below is another option, fitted diapers with a cover for water proofing.  Many people have success with this.  I tried this, but hated it.  The fitted diaper gets soaked with pee and your baby is then very, very wet.  It made my son rashy and it just seemed uncomfortable to him.  I see how this might be helpful for potty-training, but my son is still in diapers and knows when he’s going, announces it, and sometimes makes it to the potty, so by the time they are potty-training (my son is two and a half), the feeling wet part is not as important.  Though, as a side-note, cloth diapers definitely help your child potty-train quicker, or so I hear.

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And there you have it.  My humble opinion for what you should get if you are just starting out.  The BumGenius Freetime diapers are $19.95 each, but there is always a “Buy 5, Get 1” sale going on (BumGenius pockets are $17.95 each).  And the Blueberry Simplex are a bit pricier at $25.95.  You are saving so much money on diapers, even if you splurged on all Simplex.

If you got the above BumGenius sale, you’d be spending $400 up-front for a whole diaper stash of 24 diapers.  But you’d spend an estimated $3000 on disposables if your child wears them until he’s three.  That’s a lot of savings!

What is your favorite cloth diaper?

What brands did you have to go through before you discovered your favorite one?

There are many places to try to find good deals on diapers: Kelly’s Closet and Diaper Junction offer rewards and coupons all the time.

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My must-have baby items

There are a lot of “things” that everyone says you simply must buy in order to have a child. While I was pregnant (two years ago!), I searched high and low for the must-have items that I simply could not do without.  I opted to look for deals but decided to not skimp out when it came to the bigger things. Obviously, all you need is breast milk or formula, clothes, diapers, and blankets.  But some of the more expensive stuff has definitely been worth the money.  Here are my top picks.

  • Cloth diapers. Please consider saving money (you will spend about $300-500 on a cloth diaper stash used for all your children versus $3000 per child in disposables). Also, this is better for your baby. Have you heard about the chemicals that are used in disposable diapers? And lastly, it is best for the environment as well. 27 billion diapers make it to landfills each year. Yuck. Cloth diapers are cute, easy, and fun!  Why choose cloth diapers?
  • Baby carriers. I began with a Moby (stretchy wrap) and the Ergo baby carrier.  I cannot recommend them both more highly. A Moby costs about $40 and the Ergo is a bit more pricey (Boba and Beco are also great options for a structured carrier – not the Bjorn – which do not hold the baby’s spine correctly!) I now have three woven wraps (these will last much longer than a stretchy wrap, as they can hold the baby’s weight much more evenly and you won’t have to readjust with use) and three ring slings in addition to my Moby and Ergo. I love the versatility of learning new carries with the wraps and the ease of use of the ring-slings. Every time we shop, my son is in a ring-sling and we talk about our shopping trip together. There are so many beautiful fabrics out there there that are strong enough to hold an 8 to 40 pounder! TheBabyWearer.com is the best place to begin learning about all the different types of carriers. This site also has a wonderful ‘for sale or trade’ forum where you can find excellent carriers for much less than the retailed price.
  • An organic mattress. Your baby will be asleep more than he/she is awake and you want that air to be as clean as possible! My friend, Erin, wrote about this more extensively and said it best here.  She references this thought-provoking article.
  • Glamourmom nursing tanks: I got my first one when my son was already around five months old.  Boy, do I wish I’d had these from the start.  It is important to get fitted because I am a size I completely would not have expected, and they have many different kinds for women of all shapes.  They are pricey ($39-47), but I wear one almost every day, you can wear them alone or with a shirt over them.  They are well-made and built to last.  No dreaded after-baby-tummy showing!  Discreet and “modest” nursing is possible in one of these.  Love it.
  • Summer Infant video monitor: This was my splurge.  My sister-in-law raved about them, and once I saw it in action, I decided that it wasn’t an excessive purchase. I use this every day. Even now that my son is well past a year old. I love seeing him move in his sleep and making sure he hasn’t jumped out of the crib.
  • A good stroller. I chose to get the UppaBaby Vista. And though expensive, I can justify it by saying that I only ever wanted to buy one stroller in my life. I didn’t want a car seat stroller and a jogging stroller and a little stroller and another one after the first three broke down. I found a great deal on this (google around!) and this was a gift that I am oh-so-grateful for. The following features are what are important to me:
    • Car seat snaps in
    • Sturdy on our dirt road
    • Tall enough for my husband and me (adjustable height)
    • Easy to maneaver (it is big — but not too big — and it is narrow enough if I needed to bring it into a store, which I never have because I carry my baby with me when shopping.)
    • Big enough compartment underneath for all my organic veggies that I get every week (this is the biggest space I have seen on any stoller – there is tons of room)
    • Baby can look forward or backward
    • Jogg-able
    • Can become a double stroller (with a $99 attachment later on)
    • Easy to fold and put in my Honda’s trunk (yes, it is a bit more bulky than a small umbrella stroller)
    • And on and on. I love this stroller. The other one that is very similar (a tad more bulky, but has more options when you buy the second seat) is the Baby Jogger City Select.
  • The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (and at least a hundred more board books). Literacy begins at day one. Reading to your baby is a wonderful bonding and learning experience!
  • Aden and Anais swaddle blankets and Swaddlers: Check out The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp (both the book and dvd) and you will understand why swaddling is so important! Both the blankets and the ready-made swaddlers came in handy. I also will add that the “receiving” flannel blankets, though so soft and handy for burp-ups and the like, they will not swaddle your little one unless you have a preemie on your hands, so splurge on a couple of these – you will not regret it!
  • Calendula oil.  This stuff has cured all my breast ailments.  Everytime my son bites me or I feel sore, I put this on my nipples and the next day I am as good as new.  Calendula has also been proven to prevent yeast (i.e. thrush!)  This is a nursing mom’s lifesaver!

There are a lot of other “commercial” items that I thought I was too cool for.  But, it turns out, these all really help if you want to set your baby down or travel. Some items can be found clean and safe at garage sales.  So here is my list of other items that are best found second-hand, from a friend or a garage sale, if you are on a budget.

  • Swing (day one): this was a lifesaver when I had to pump those first six weeks, and is also nice if you want to take a shower!  A bouncer is also convenient to have so the baby can have changes in scenery while you’re doing laundry, dinner, dishes, etc.
  • Play pen (day one): i.e. Pack’n’ Play for travel, change of scenery, getting your child to sleep in multiple places
  • Play floor gym (around three months): there are so many different kinds, but it is so wonderful to watch your little one swat at something for the first time!
  • Exersaucer: (around five months): yes, the dreaded, huge, over-stimulation saucer, but there is about a two month window, at least for my son, that he loved it and I was able to cook without a sweaty baby on my back with my baby carrier.  I’ve never tried a Jump-a-roo.

A couple suggestions for what don’t you need:

  • All the gadgets and gizmos. Really think about whether an item will last when registering – be smart about it! Do you need 4 cute animal washcloths? How about that wipe warmer?  Or a travel pod set?  Or a floor mat for kitchen messes (just clean the floor!)?  There are so many gimmicks out there, and I have certainly bought into many of them, but buyer, beware!
  • A huge plastic tub for your baby. Instead, I bought a baby sponge (about $4.99) that laid in the sink, and gave him a bath in our sink for the first two months. Then, we did buy one of those bath seats to put in the tub. This system worked for us.
  • Baby shoes. I don’t know if I need to put a public service announcement out on this, but babies don’t walk. Don’t waste your money. As they get older, they will pull their socks off, so a pair of Robeez or Bobux or Shoofoo may be necessary. (Actually, a 6-12 month pair of these should be added to the “must-have” list.  These are all my son wears, unless we are going out and it’s muddy or snowy — they don’t stifle a child’s natural movement in their growing feet!)
  • A lot of “cute” baby clothes. You really just need a lot of onesies and sleepers (preferably gowns or zippers). Pick out 3-4 really nice outfits for going-out occasions, but if you’re like me, you won’t be going out all that much in the first three months!

I hope this list has given you some ideas and helped you navigate through the “baby industry”! This list is only for the babies, I have written great toy lists for as your baby gets older.  Blessings!

Why cloth diaper?

I have been obsessed with cloth diapers ever since (well, before) we found out we were having a little one.  Here are my top three (okay, four) reasons that all new mothers should consider cloth diapers:

  1. Better and more comfortable for baby.  Cloth diapering decreases your baby’s chance of having diaper rash because no crazy chemicals or plastic touches their skin.
  2. I have spent roughly $600 on a cloth diaper stash that I want to use for all (3, God willing) of our children.  Disposables per child costs about $2-3000 per child — thus I will be saving between $5-8000!!!  And I can resell (if they aren’t torn up) on hyenacart.com or diaperswappers.com.
  3. I am not contributing to diaper landfill waste (average of 6500 diapers per child) that will not biodegrade.
  4. They are so darn cute!

Find tons of information at TheClothDiaperWhisperer.