Giving Up Cloth … At Least For Now.

I really hate posting this. I feel like I’m admitting defeat or giving in… but the truth is that, as with all things, I need to do what’s best right now for me and my family.

Cloth diapers have been a grand adventure! I have a good supply and washing routine, and I really do like using cloth diapers for a variety of reasons:

  • Much easier on baby’s skin. J always suffered from an allergic reaction when we used any Pampers diaper (Swaddlers, Sensitive, Baby Dry), but it immediately cleared up when we switched to cloth. It’s understandable; soft cloth > plastic when it comes to comfort. There’s a reason we adults don’t wear plastic underwear. (Or at least most of us don’t.)
  • Cute! But even with all of our adorable diaper covers, I more often than not covered them up with clothes.
  • Probably cheaper in the long run. They’re a big up-front investment, but the cost of those big boxes of disposables adds up, too.
  • Possibly better for the environment. There are plenty of debates on this topic online… I guess what it really comes down to is whether you’d rather use a lot more water or throw pounds upon pounds of plastic into a landfill. For the past several months, I chose the former, but I’m not sure which (if either) is worse.

And that brings me to the main reason I’m giving them up. Now that J’s poops are more solid and stinky, the smell is getting out of control. I keep all his wet and dirty diapers in a trash can with a lid, and the smell stays contained (for the most part), until laundry day arrives… Then I stand next to the washer, holding my breath while I take each diaper apart and plunk it in. It smells… well, like a bucket of pee and poop that has been allowed to fester for a couple of days. It’s really toxic. (Probably literally… doesn’t pee contain ammonia?) I use vinegar along with the detergent, so they always end up very clean and odorless after the laundry is done, but dealing with that stench (even if it’s just for a couple of minutes) every two or three days is pretty miserable (and unhealthy) for all of us.

On top of those concerns, it’s also just one more thing on my plate. I’ve been feeling a little more stressed than usual lately because of issues at work… and juggling a career and feeding the baby and naptime and spending time with my husband and cleaning and cooking and doing laundry and cleaning diapers… it’s just all a bit much, and I’d like to cut some stressors out wherever I can.

At least we finally discovered that Target brand diapers don’t cause J to have a rash. And they’re cheap! Major plus. J seems to be fine with them!

J in Target brand disposable diapers
J at 8 months in Target brand disposable diapers

If I were a stay-at-home mom and if I had a better storage solution, I would definitely continue cloth diapering. There are a lot of pluses. But I think that returning to disposables is what’s best for me, J, and D at the moment. And I still think having some cloth diapers on hand as back-ups is great advice! At least I know I won’t need to make any midnight runs to the store.

Products I Love: Cloth Diapers

Let me start off this post by saying that I am not an expert on cloth diapering. I don’t know the truth behind statistics about their eco-friendliness when compared to disposables. I don’t know all of the different kinds. I didn’t even do any research on the subject until the baby was two months old.

But I do know that I’m glad I switched to cloth. And I also have definite preferences when it comes to cloth diaper brands and features.

Why did I make the switch?

I’m not good at the whole “green” thing. I do turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth, we put out the recycling once a week, and I keep the eco assist button in my new Honda turned on. But I don’t buy organic (unless it’s just as cheap), and I keep the A/C on 74F or lower. It’s bad, I know.

BUT… for some reason, it made me cringe every time we emptied the diaper genie. Not because of the smell (it’s actually very good at containing that!), but because I couldn’t bear to be sending those huge plastic “diaper snakes” to a landfill, where they will just sit… forever. Especially when I knew that there was another option.

To make cloth diapering even more appealing, we discovered that the baby is allergic (or at least sensitive) to disposable diapers. We had been using Pampers Swaddlers from the beginning, and he had a constant rash that went all the way around the waistband. No diaper rash creams helped, and his skin was getting pretty raw. The pediatrician suggested that we try other brands, but they’ve all had the same effect (including Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive).

And so, I started looking into cloth diapering. At first, I thought it would just be nice to have a set for back-up, but I actually found that the extra laundry was not nearly as big a hassle as I expected it to be, and the baby’s rash cleared up almost immediately! This was obviously working out perfectly. We very quickly transitioned to using cloth diapers full time, except for the two days that the baby is at daycare.

Charlie Banana

The first brand I purchased was Charlie Banana One-size diapers. There are a few things that I love about these diapers, but they’re not my favorites.

For the first several weeks, these were the only diapers we had, so I used them all the time. But now, I only use them at night, stuffed with two different pads to prevent leaks. Now that he’s sleeping through the night (up to 11 hours at a time!), both pads are usually soaked by morning! But I have yet to have a leak using them this way.

That’s not his butt crack, I promise. 🙂

Pros:

  • Come with two sizes of inserts — Medium/Large and Small (I use one of each at night)
  • Super soft fleece on the inside of the covers (definitely the softest of all the brands I’ve tried)
  • Inserts are absorbant
  • Bright, happy colors
  • Only 3 snaps on each side
  • Seem to be high-quality in construction

Cons:

  • Rise is adjusted using elastic inside the leg bands that is hard to get to. It also causes the diaper cover to bunch strangely in my experience.
  • Even with just one insert, I find these to be bulkier. (Probably due to thicker pads — a good thing — and the soft fleece lining.)
  • We had a few leaks when we were using these during the day with just one pad. No leaks at night with the double-stuff.
  • Pocket opens in the front, which can be messy when taking out wet diaper liners.

Bumkins

The second brand I purchased from Zulily.comBumkins All-in-one One Size diapers. I got 6 plus a wetbag for something like $70, which was pretty good for cloth diapers. I also opted to get the all-in-one style of these. It seemed like a good idea — the pads are connected to the covers, so there’s no need to pull them out to wash and no need to dig through the dryer to find the matching pad. Unfortunately, this causes the diapers to take a lot longer to dry, and I also have had more leaks with these than any of my other diapers. These have been relegated to back-up status.

Turtles!

Pros:

  • Pads are attached to covers (both a pro and con — see above)
  • Cute patterns (we have swirls and turtles!)
  • Snap-adjusted rise

Cons:

  • The outside of the diaper is a silky/satin material that feels more like a bathing suit than clothing.
  • Lots of snaps to close! 5 on each side, plus two to keep the pad in place
  • Lots of leaks
  • Pad is only one length, so it bunches up in the back of the diaper if it doesn’t fit.
  • Not very soft lining

Jungle Roos

Brand number three was another purchase from Zulily. This time, I got six Jungle Roos One-size diapers for about $10 apiece, which it turns out was a steal since they apparently retail for twice that much. At the time, I couldn’t find any reviews on them (I guess they’re new?), so it was a bit of a gamble to order them, but I’m so glad I did! They’re definitely one of my favorite brands. (A close second to the BumGenius below…)

Elephants and other safari animals!

Pros:

  • Pocket opens at the seam of the back of the diaper (there’s no flap), so mess is minimal when removing the pad.
  • Adorable patterns and bright colors
  • Cloth-like exterior; soft interior
  • Inserts are very absorbant
  • No leaks so far!
  • Snap-adjusted rise
  • Three-snaps on each side to close
Cons:
  • The solid colored diapers seem to be bigger than the patterned ones, so there’s some size inconsistency. But these are one-size, so it really just means that I use different snaps on different diapers.
  • Slot opening is somewhat small, and the pads are wide, so it can take a little more finagling to get the inserts situated properly.

BumGenius

The last set I bought was another splurge like the Charlie Bananas — but oh-so-worth-it! I bought six BumGenius 4.0 One Size diapers with hook-and-loop (velcro) closure. These diapers combine all of the features I like about the others into one style of diaper. I’ve been very happy with them, but they were more expensive than the others.

Love this green color.

Pros:

  • Hook-and-loop (velcro) closure means the husband willingly changes the baby’s diaper! (He hates the snaps on the others.)
  • Pocket opens in back (spans entire width of diaper, with a flap covering the pocket)
  • Very pretty colors
  • Cloth-like exterior and soft interior
  • Inserts are very absorbant
  • Snap-adjusted rise
  • Insert length can be adjusted using snaps on the pads
  • Separate newborn pads are included (though we never got to use them since the baby was 3+ months when we got them)

Cons:

  • The velcro sometimes causes a bit of redness where his tummy folds over the diaper
  • Velcro means you have to attach the tabs to the laundry patches before washing or else they’ll stick to everything.

Bummis Swim Diaper

Figured I’d mention these, too. In preparation for summer, I bought two Bummis Swimmis. We’ve been happy with them, but I really have nothing to compare them to. They’re not designed to hold in poop (I don’t think any swim diapers are), but we’ve put him in the pool multiple times and have never had a problem with pee escaping. Plus they have some adorable patterns — we have sea turtles and fishies! I’d MUCH rather deal with one of these than a disposable swim diaper. This just goes in the wet bag with our bathing suits, and then I throw them in the wash. But I’ve never used a disposable swim diaper, so maybe I just don’t know.

Sea turtles! (Apologies for the blurry picture)

All in all, I’m very glad we made the switch to cloth diapers! I’m still working on organization methods. I have a little trash can in his nursery, lined with an old pillow case, that I put used diapers in, and when it’s time to do laundry, I throw it all (including the pillowcase) in the washing machine. I’ve been using Charlie’s Soap with a little white vinegar to wash them, and we’ve started using it for all of our other laundry, too. (Eco-friendly soap is necessary to maintain the integrity of the cloth diapers since conventional detergents leave residue behind, even if they say they don’t.) I can’t tell a difference in cleanliness compared to Tide.

Have you considered cloth diapering? I recommend at least keeping a set around for those days when you are out of disposables but don’t have the option/time/energy to run to the store. And who knows, you may find that you like them just as well — if not better — than disposables!