What about the laundry?
Cloth diapering does not require a degree to do correctly. Just like you do with your lights, darks, whites and wash-only clothes, a little simple dividing is all that is needed! Keep your diapers separated from your other laundry, in either a wet bag
or diaper pail until you are ready to wash (usually about 2 times a week). Throw the diapers into the wash with a cloth diaper safe detergent (free from whiteners, brighteners, perfumes, dyes, enzymes and softeners). Select an extra rinse and you are good to go!
You can choose to hang up your diapers (either inside or outside your house), or throw them into the dryer - it is however more economical and environmentally friendly to hang :) If you choose to use the dryer, ensure that you do not use any fabric softener, or use a dryer that usually comes into contact with fabric softener. There is a fabric softener build-up on the inside of dryers due to exposure that will transfer to the cloth diapers and reduce their effectiveness.
A wonderful alternative to dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener is to use wool dryer balls
. They are just as effective as the sheets or liquid softener, but are chemical free and environmentally friendly.
For more laundry tips, please check out our Diaper Care
What about the poop?
Babies come with poop; there is no way around it. If you signed up for a baby, then you signed up for poop too. I'm sorry. The good news is that despite mainstream misconceptions, cloth diapers time and time again hold more "blowout poops" in the diaper compared to a disposables, leaving you with less cleanup and outfit changes. This is due to the elastics at the back and leg openings of the cloth diaper or cover.
Take it from me, I am a true believer in the containing abilities of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers. If you want to reduce the amount of poop that comes into contact with the cloth diaper, you may want to use a disposable liner (great at keeping your cloth diapers safe for when you need to use a conventional diaper rash cream too). Disposable liners are a biodegradable, toilet paper like material on a roll, that in most cases can be flushed along with the waste in the toilet. Some parents choose to use a diaper sprayer, which is a small nozzle that hooks up to the toilet water line, making cleanup easy.
At the end of the day, babies poop and disposable diapers can no longer be an out of sight, out of mind idea. The disposable diaper waste is not taken care of correctly (via water treatment plants) when it leaves your house in a garbage bag. It is left to sit in a landfill, and the human waste (coupled with other nasty things like bacteria, viruses and leftovers from vaccinations) seeps into the ground-water, and is taken in by plants and animals. If for no other reason to cloth diaper, think about the future of the environment. Our children will inherit the earth from us, let's make sure we leave them with the best possible scenario.
For more environmental reasons to cloth diaper, please check out our Why Cloth Diaper
I find cloth diapering overwhelming to start!
The cloth diapering industry has come up with many different varieties to fit every budget, every experience level, and every parent or caregiver. If you're like most people, you don't only have one type of shirt or pant, to fit every need or occasion. The same applies to a cloth diaper stash. You will need to find daytime diapers and nighttime diapers. Just like your own daytime, nighttime and seasonal clothes, there is not a one style fits all approach to cloth diapering. Rest assured though, if you have come this far, you are probably up for the job of finding the right diapers to suit all of your baby's needs.
Here is a quick rundown of some cloth diapering terms that you may come across during your search:
A type of diaper that never needs to be assembled or stuffed. An All-in-One cloth diaper includes an absorbent liner (not microfiber!) and a waterproof cover. It is washed as one piece.
All-in-Twos (Pocket Diapers or AITs):
An All-in-Two is the same idea as an All-in-One diaper, but does need to be stuffed with an absorbent liner, or a snap-in absorbent inner.
A very popular material to be used as the absorbent part of the cloth diaper. Bamboo is very absorbent, very soft, and comes with antibacterial properties. Unfortunately bamboo is a less durable material in itself, so you will often find it blended with polyester or cotton.
A booster is a small absorbent insert (in either an organic or synthetic material) that can be added for extra absorbency into a nighttime diaper, or for heavy-wetters, or for any other time when you need extra absorbency - like travelling.
Conventional cotton is less expensive than it's organic counterpart, but it is also the least absorbent of any of the diaper materials.
A cloth diaper cover is the waterproof outer layer that goes on after a fitted diaper or pre-fold. They're usually made out of PUL (polyurethane laminate), but may also come in fleece or wool. PUL covers can be reused three to four times in a day without washing (as long as they are adequately wiped clean). Some people choose to use two covers in a day, alternating between changes.
A fitted diaper is shaped like a disposable diaper and is usually made out of a natural fiber, and do not require any folding. The closures come in either snap or hook and loop tabs. A fitted diaper requires a cover.
Fleece is generally made from polyester. It is breathable and does not leak; so it makes for a good cloth diaper material to be up against your baby's sensitive skin.
Hemp is the most absorbent natural material used in cloth diapering! Hemp is an excellent fiber to use in doublers (boosters), but is sometimes prone to holding odours more easily.
A hybrid diaper consists of a waterproof cover, and both disposable and cloth insert options. Disposable inserts are great for when travelling; the cloth inserts quite often work better and are more affordable.
This is the part of the cloth diaper that the pee is absorbed into. The insert sits inside the pocket or envelope cover.
Liners can be reusable or disposable. The liners act as a barrier between the baby's bum and the cloth diaper. They help to keep cleanup to a minimum when dealing with a poopy diaper, and help to protect the diaper when diaper rash cream is needed. They can also be used to help keep baby dry when used with a nighttime diaper.
Microfiber is the most common material found in pocket diaper inserts. Microfiber is very affordable and extremely absorbent, but sometimes prone to holding odours more easily. Microfiber should not be used directly against the baby's skin as it will cause skin dryness because of it's moisture absorbency capabilities.
Organic cotton is much more absorbent than conventional cotton and is also softer. It is common to find organic cotton in a cloth diaper.
Pocket Diapers (envelope style diapers):
A very popular type of cloth diaper consisting of two attached parts. A waterproof outer layer is combined with a stay-dry inner layer to make a pocket, or envelope. An insert is then placed in the pocket of the diaper. Pocket diapers are great for customizing for different absorbency needs.
Prefolds are made from several layers of natural fibers, and are folded and placed inside a waterproof cover. They are usually more work to get on, but they are just as effective as most other cloth diapering options - and come with a much smaller price tag.
PUL (Polyurethane Laminate):
Most diaper covers, along with the waterproof outer layer of a pocket diaper, and all in one diapers are made from PUL. Polyurethane laminate (PUL) has a long shelf life if taken care of properly, and holds leaks effectively.