Maybe it is that I have read a lot of threads on the cloth diaper board, that I spent a lot of time while pregnant thinking ahead about cloth diapers and wading through options trying to find what I thought would work best for us, but every time I fold diapers I start composing a sort of review of them in my head. Maybe it is time I actually get that out.
Truth be told, I haven't tried a wide variety of cloth diapers. Mostly we just use prefolds with PUL covers, but I love them. I hate folding laundry but I actually like folding the diapers, they make me happy for some reason. I can't really explain it. It could just appeal to the nesting instinct in me, I like folding baby clothes too (well, except the towels and sheets and stuff, that is a pain) but those are only my second favorite. Diapers win.
I guess this isn't really a review so much as a "this is what I use and works for me and I like" sort of thing.
Prefolds are our main diapers. I've bought a couple different kinds. I didn't buy any newborn sized because I expected a baby a minimum of 8 1/2 lbs. I was in for a surprise. Even at his lowest weight of 6 lbs 12 oz I was able to make the infant size work. If there is a next time (and I hope there is, but I don't like to assume there will be) I think I will go ahead and get at least a dozen newborn size to make it a little easier in the beginning, and because so many people say the newborn size is great for doublers or stuffing for older babies/toddlers. I just can't see getting a whole set of newborn diapers though when they fit for such a short time.
We started using the cloth when E was about 4 days old I think. It was such a relief once we did because I could actually tell the diaper was wet and be a lot more confident about the wet diaper count. We used disposables the first few days mostly because there was already so much that was new and we were trying to figure out without trying to learn how to put the diapers on right. Of course if there is a next time we will already know how to use them so we can start earlier.
I had 6 Bummis diapers, 6 small (yellow-edge) diapers from Green Mountain, and 18 infant (green-edge) diapers from Baby Cotton Bottoms. That first month or so the yellow ones didn't get much use. They were really too big so they were the last I used. (That is why I want some newborn sized next time, to make up for these not working in the very beginning.) The others fit better, but for the first couple months I folded all of them down and couple inches in the back to make the length fit better. Then I didn't need to do that for the Bummis or the green ones. After a little while I didn't have to do it with the yellow either. I used the angel-wing fold and rolled it in around the legs for extra leak protection. Even though I think it is easier to fold the diapers if you don't have to fold them down for a better fit, I have to say I think that extra edge in back saved us some blow-outs.
Early on we had a couple messes, but that was due mostly due to user error and inexperience in making sure that the pajamas or onesie was pulled up far enough before taking the diaper off. We've only ever had one diaper that was truly a "blow out" and only a handful of times where we had leaking, but once again, those were more due to bad folding than anything else.
Of that first set of prefolds, my least favorite was the Bummis. I thought they were kind of stiff. Mark liked those best for awhile though. They were the first ones I put away when E started to grow into the next size. Initially the green were my favorite. They were the softest and they fit E best for a long time. Then they started to get a little snug and the yellow ones became my favorite because they were wider. I think I'd also like 6 more yellow-edged for next time.
I also had three different all-in-one diapers I used. We had a BumGenius 3.0, a Thirties size small, and a SposoEasy. I didn't really use these much. Initially when I learned about cloth diapering I thought they would be great, but I knew we couldn't afford a whole ton of these in each size, so I figured the best thing to do would go with mostly pre-folds and get a few all-in-ones too. I figured for the small size I should order a few different types to see what I liked best.
At first I thought the Thirsties one was best. It was softer and made more sense to me than the SposoEasy, and it had leg gussets unlike the Bum Genius. For whatever reason E did not like these though. I think it was the microfiber inside that bothered him when it got wet? Maybe it was too hot? I'm not sure. A diaper that results in a screaming baby when it gets wet does not stay at the top of a favorite list for long. I did come to like the SposoEasy one a lot because I could tell easier if it was wet and E seemed most comfortable in it since it is all cotton inside. The BumGenius I didn't like at first since it didn't have leg gussets, but it had the longest lasting fit and towards the end of its use I came to like it a lot. Which is kind of weird, because the other two were supposed to fit longer than the BumGenius.
The all-in-ones are handy to have in the diaper bag. They take up less room and are neater in the bag. I like to have E in an all-in-one when we go to the doctor's office. It makes all the dressing and undressing a lot easier. I tried them for night thinking they would be more absorbent, but that was a no-go. That is when I got the screaming baby. Other than that, I mostly just used them as back-up for when we were low on the prefolds. They are easier than prefolds. Not that prefolds are that difficult, but AIOs go on and off like a disposable and it is all one piece, so that makes it simpler for changing.
The things I don't like about AIOs are laundry related. This is where they are not simpler. First of all, they take longer to dry. I always line dried them and they took a couple days typically. The other thing I didn't have a problem with so much, but lots of people do, is the build-up.
I don't use a special detergent. I already can't use any detergents that have enzymes in them because they make me itch like mad. I use the store brand of Purex Free & Clear, which I believe has brighteners in it even though they aren't listed on the label, but otherwise is free of enzymes, dyes, and fragrance. I have thus far been able to get away with using this detergent for the prefolds. I believe from what I've read that I might not have such good luck with it if I was using AIOs. They are so thick I think they just tend to hold on to stuff, plus with all that microfiber and fleece they are kind of finicky. No one around me sells these recommended-for-cloth detergents, even if it lasts a long time I find it hard to justify spending an enormous amount on a special detergent and then a large amount to have it shipped to me. Especially since lots of people still seem to have problems with some of these recommended detergents.
I once saw a friend of a friend make a comment about diapers just being diapers. They get pooped and peed on. There is no need to make them complicated. Sometimes I read this stuff and I really think some people like to make things be more complicated than they have to be. I guess this is why I mostly do prefolds. They are simple to take care of and once you get the hand of them, pretty simple to use.
When it was time to order the next size up in prefolds I got a dozen of the Green Mountain medium (red-edge) and two dozen of the Baby/Premium (blue-edge) prefolds from Baby Cotton Bottoms. I ordered these during the period where I preferred the green over the yellow-edged diapers. We didn't need them as soon as I expected we would. I think we made the switch sometime between 6 and 7 months. Of course, up until that point E was pretty small.
The red are a little wider and the blue are longer. At this point I wish I had two dozen red and one dozen blue instead of the other way around. The blue are still long enough that I have to fold them down for a good fit. If I do the angel wing fold I make the fold in back. If I do the bikini twist fold (I just learned how to do that one in the last couple months) I fold it down in front. It just works better that way. The red I always do in the angel wing fold, they are almost too wide and therefore too bulky to do the bikini twist nicely I think.
For awhile after E outgrew that BumGenious size small I didn't have any AIOs, I figured I didn't really need them. Then I went ahead and ordered another BumGenius size medium. I kind of wish I had at least two, but the first one really did last through about 16 lbs, and the medium is supposed to fit 15-22 lbs. I ordered it about a month and a half ago when he was already 17+ lbs, and I have no idea how soon he is going to hit 22. He was 19 1/2 lbs tonight. For as expensive as the AIOs are I want to be sure I'm going to get decent use out of them. I think I will try to make do with the one until he is big enough for the large size and then I will order 3 of them and it will be good. I guess I would order a SposoEasy again too if I was placing an order from Green Mountain Diapers, but they are kind of my back-up to Cotton Baby Bottoms. I think the sized Thirsties got discontinued anyway since now they make the 2 size ones, but given E's reaction I think I'll pass on them.
Also in my order from a month and a half ago: 3 flat diapers. I hadn't really realized they were an option, or understood about them until recently. Then I read about how much some other mothers liked them, so I thought I would try a few. I like them. Not enough to make them they only thing I have, but I do like them.
I am not convinced that flats are as absorbent as prefolds, but they are definitely trimmer. The folding is trickier, but it isn't so hard to get them around hips well. It is easier to put extra diaper where you need extra absorbency. Mark hasn't used them, not because he isn't willing to, but because he hasn't really needed to so he will just grab a prefold instead. I like that they are cheaper than prefolds and they are one size. I think next time I place an order I will get a dozen, then I will have 15 of them which will be nice. I was intending to use them as back-up but for daytime at home I actually find if I have one I will grab it before a prefold. They are more time consuming to fold, and sometimes I blank on how to fold them, but overall I like them. I even figured out how to secure it without a snappi the other day!
Which I guess I didn't mention, and perhaps I should. I do use a snappi on the prefolds. Once when I had a snappi break on me and I couldn't find another one, I grabbed the diaper pins I have "just in case." Yeah, I couldn't use them. I was so paranoid I was going to poke E that I gave up and just didn't fasten the diaper under the cover. I think securing the diaper in some way is a good idea for a young baby. It keeps things in if you know what I mean. I've thought about just trifolding the prefold and laying it in the cover, but old habbits die hard and once in awhile (particularly after E has had pears or peaches) we are really glad that the diaper has that snappi. When we ran out of diapers a couple times (before the extra AIO and flats came) I grabbed a yellow diaper back out of storage and put it in trifolded, that worked pretty good.
So that is it for the diapers themselves. But what about over the diapers?
I always thought I would want to use wool. Wool covers are expensive though, and why would I buy a wool cover when I could knit one? Then I got pregnant and despite my best intentions, I just couldn't get up the knitting mojo to complete a soaker. I made a sack type soaker, even lanolized it. I never used it though. I forgot about it at first, then it didn't make any sense with the clothes I had for E. I actually did knit a soaker, but never got the ribbing done on the legs. It is probably too small now even if I did finish it. The wool makes clothing options difficult though. Onesies are what is most prevalent, and I like them, but I'm worried about compression issues with onesies over wool.
Instead I just use PUL covers. I bought some off an Etsy seller, and I really liked them, especially since they weren't very expensive, but this last time I didn't get any from her. She raised her prices (understandable, but her prices was part of the appeal of buying from her) and then Thirsties came out with the duo sized covers, so I mostly went with them. I found her covers ran a little smaller than most, which was great early on, but then E would outgrow them so fast. I have also used Bummis and Thirsties covers.
The Bummis Super Brites I like. I had two size small and now have two size medium. They are pretty, I like velcro, and they have leg gussets. I hated the Whisper Wrap (small) I got from them. No leg gusset and I found out I hated snaps. I couldn't get a good fit. It was either too tight or too loose. I also bought a (now discontinued) fleece cover (medium). It is all right, I thought it would be more breathable for summer. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. It works, but it pilled fast so it looks worn.
I like the Thirsties covers a lot. I had a couple x-small and a couple small sizes, then they came out with the duo sizes. I bought one of the size one duos. It didn't get much use because E grew out of it fast. Right now all the Thirsties covers I have (and that would be 4 solids and two prints) are the size two duos. I'm liking them a lot, but I do wonder if they will really last all the way through to potty training. They get so much use. We line dry them too.
I also had one extra small organic cotton cover with PUL lining inside. It was all right, but I thought it wicked really easily.
At this point, I still really prefer velcro to snaps. I hear people say that once a baby figures out how to get the diaper off I will prefer snaps to velcro but we are (thankfully) not there yet. I just think that I can get a better fit with velcro.
We currently have 9 covers in rotation. I think this is about right. We could make due with 7 or 8, but I wouldn't want less than 6. Mostly we just alternate between two at a time, but sometimes they get super soaked or they get messy and we switch. Or I just get to feeling like E has been in one a long time already so I toss it in the laundry and pull a different one out. Sometimes one gets left in the diaper bag. We haven't run out yet. It allows us to do laundry every 2 - 2 1/2 days and gives the covers time to line dry before they are returned to the rotation.
Then there is the whole issue with wipes. Everything I read when I was pregnant about unnecessary baby stuff talked about wipes warmers and how silly and useless they were. They probably are if you use disposable wipes, they don't hold that much liquid. We use cloth wipes though and a couple weeks in we decided to use a gift card and buy one specifically for cloth wipes and WOW that made a big difference with how E tolerated diaper changes. Necessary? No, not really. Nice to have? For sure! I use ImseVimpse flannel wipes and love them. We have 4 dozen now and I feel like we finally have the right number. I have maybe 10 other flannel wipes from somewhere, but they are odd shaped so it is kind of weird knowing how to fold them in the wipes warmer. They mostly go in the diaper bag. We also have the 5 bamboo wipes that came with the wipes warmer. They are thick and terrycloth-like, but they fray really easily. We actually use those as pee shields and they work really good for that since they are small and really absorbent. I also cut up a pair of torn pajama pants into little squares, but due to my sewing machine being out of commission I didn't edge them, so they are frayed too. They are still good to have as back-ups though.
The Imse Vimse wipes we keep wet and in the warmer. When we do a load of diapers the wipes are in there of course, and after they have been folded we just stick them in an old plastic disposable wipes container and pour a batch of wipe solution over them. I boil water (which I don't think you have to but it makes me feel better and then they start out warm) and mix 3 c water with 1/2 t baby wash (I use California Baby), 1 T olive oil (cheap stuff, we aren't talking organic extra virgin olive oil here), and a couple drops lavender and tea tree essential oil. We let it cool a little then stick them in the warmer to stay warm.
Here is the fun stuff, but also stuff that can start adding up. For the record, I'm not sure that cloth diapering one baby is really much cheaper than using disposables. Maybe it is if you do flats and duo covers. Although I do wonder if the covers really will last all the way through. The cotton I think will, the PUL and velcro and snaps and elastic seems more likely to have something wear out. Anyway, tangent about covers aside, it seems like I have spent a lot on diapers and accessories. If E is are only one, it might be even with what we would have spent on disposable diapering, but if we do have a second or even third child I think we are really going to see savings then. I'm sure we'll need to replace things here and there, maybe find some different solutions here and there too, but there will be so much we are able to reuse. Then when you consider that you can often resell this stuff, you can recoup some of the cost down the road. Expense wasn't really the top reason for choosing cloth over disposables for us though.
My favorite little extra are the raw silk liners we have. We only have two, but they are great when E has a little extra redness, they really seem to help clear it up.
I also bought a role of flushable liners. We don't use them much, only when we need to put some diaper cream on, but then we use the California Baby Diaper rash cream which is supposed to be compatible with cloth diapers, but I like taking the extra precaution of having a liner in there. Some liners can be washed if they just get peed on and used again but I have found out that the ones we have do not hold up in the wash at all.
Initially I bought a couple Thirsties microfiber doublers. These are really kind of bulky and I found that they can work outside a prefold, but E will not tolerate them next to his skin, so I hardly ever use them. I tried stuffing an AIO with a pocket with one once. It did not go over well. Too much microfiber and therefor too warm or uncomfortable for E I guess.
I learned my lesson but was still interested in a doubler to get us through a longer stretch at night now that E doesn't need to have a bunch of midnight feedings anymore. I bought a couple Play All Day hemp doublers. I really like these! They are soft and E doesn't object to them at all. I usually use them when I do an angel-wing fold and I stick half of it in the front between the folds and fold the other half down inside the diaper right next to E's skin so they actually add 2 layers.
Pail Liners/Wet Bags
I think this is more of a necessity than an extra, but people have a lot of different set ups so it isn't a must for everyone I guess.
We use a big kitchen trash can with lid and foot pedal for our diaper pail. I added some baby stickers to decorate it and make it a little less trash can like. Inside the pail we use a wet bag to line it. We use the large Blue Penguin Wet Bags. They are PUl with a drawstring. I know some people don't like the drawstring, but for our purposes it works fine. We throw the wetbag in the wash with the diapers then line dry. We started out with two, but awhile back I got a third one because they take a little extra time to dry and when we travel that can cause a little bit of a hiccup.
I also have a couple small Blue Penguin Wet Bags or use in the diaper bag. I like that they actually hold quite a few diapers. I don't like that they take up a bit of room even when folded in the diaper bag and the drawstring doesn't always close really tight.
I felt I needed a 3rd diaper bag wet bag, so I got a Kushies bag. This is my favorite! The fabric is thinner so it fits better and the drawstring pulls the bag closed a lot tighter. Also, the fabric has a pattern and is cute. The downside is that it doesn't hold as many diapers, so while it works great for a short trip somewhere it doesn't work so well if we are going to be gone all day.
If I were to get another travel/diaper bag wet bag I think I would look into the Planet Wise bags. I've heard a lot of good things about them and I think the zipper closure would be nice.
Back to the cost issue for a second though. When people consider the expense of diapering I think they are a lot more likely to include the wet bags in the cost of cloth diapering, but often forget to add the cost of the diaper genie and those bags plus potentially the extra trash bags and possibly trash pick-up costs of using disposables.
I think the diaper pail gets a little smelly as it gets full. Honestly I think it is less smelly than disposable diapers are, but I found an easy way to cut the stench is to sprinkle some baking soda in the pail. In my pre-birth purchases I got a canister of scented pail powder. It is nice and all, but really I think plain old baking soda does the trick.
E went swimming once this summer. I purchased two Bummis swim diapers knowing he was going to switch sizes sometime in the summer. I think we did use the small one, we never used the medium one (or was it the other way around?) I guess he didn't really put it to the test, but I think it worked well for the use it did have.
I guess I should mention where I get all this stuff too. The majority of my purchases have come from Cotton Baby Bottoms. The owner is on Ravelry and is always so helpful (plus she gives us a discount) so I like to buy from her first.
I have also bought a fair amount from Green Mountain Diapers, and had a few orders from Kelly's Closet. I've had great service from both these stores as well and would recommend all three.
Well that was a lot of babble about diapers. This post was started then finished a week later. In the meantime I ordered a dozen more flats, two more hemp liners, two BumGenius 3.0 one size pocket diapers, and 2 Play All Day fitted diapers that are being discontinued. I ordered the fitted diapers in the medium size but they were actually sold out so I got them in large instead. At best they won't fit until E is 26 lbs, so it will be awhile before I can tell you how they are. I was looking at them more as a nighttime solution/easy for diaper bag use. Same for the pocket diapers really. I want to see if they work better for nighttime use, but I also am tired of doing prefolds in the diapers bag. I even like flats in the diaper bag better, but Mark is still a bit befuddled by those.