I should have just made this a mini baby/motherhood series since apparently all I post about recently is on that subject, but I didn’t think that far ahead so here we are. So let’s talk about cloth diapering.
I think the first thing to say is, cloth diapering has come a very long way from the diaper pins and diapers your grandmother used. Also, although they have come a long way, they do still require a touch more work, and require you to get a little more up close and personal with #1 and #2 than disposables. With that said, we have loved using them, and have felt in the grande scheme of things they have been pretty easy overall.
The Set Up
We started out with prefolds and covers due to some recommendations, but eventually switched to the pocket style of diaper. I didn’t mind the prefolds, but if I had it to do over again (hopefully when we do it over again) I will use the pocket diapers from the start. *I will note that the prefolds were surprisingly easy to use. Even Will had no problem with them. They are also probably he most economical, easy to clean, and can be used for a myriad of other things because they are super absorbent.
In general I think you need about 24 diapers, assuming your baby will go through 6-8 a day (or a lot more for some babies), that will be enough to get you through a couple of days and prevent you from having to wash diapers all, every day.
4 bumGenius Freetime All-In-One diapers. These are super nice, and super expensive (around $19.95 each!) diapers, that are honestly not my favorite. They are convenient because the inserts are built in, but they don’t fit Aubrey the best and I would have rather spent the money on more Alva diapers.
20 Alva pocket diapers (oddly purchased on eBay). These are only $5.89 a piece and are great quality. They fit Aubrey really well thanks to the large number of snaps allowing you to adjust to get the perfect fit. You can also purchase as a 20 piece lot for $86.99, dropping the price per diaper to $4.35! We highly recommend these.
I also purchased 20 bamboo inserts for the pocket diapers because I quickly learned the inserts they come with are pretty useless and need to be doubled, which makes for a bulky and uncomfortable diaper. These are $25.00 for a 10 pack.
20 organic cloth wipes. While Aubrey was breastfeeding we used these for both #1 and #2. Now we only use them for #1. They are super soft, have been surprisingly easy to keep clean, and I could definitely see using them for other things one we are done with the diapering stage. If they ever stained and it wouldn’t come out in the wash I would just lay them out in the sun which bleached them naturally. You can of course just use regular disposable wipes, but since you are washing diapers anyway, it doesn’t hurt to use these and just throw them in your diaper load. These are $12.99 per 10pk.
We have one larger wet bag we keep in the nursery. I would say it holds almost all of our diapers (24) if they are squeezed in. This one is $18.95.
And we have a travel wet bag we use when we are on the go. It holds around 5-6 diapers if you really squeeze them in. This one was $23.90, but the seller of the Alva diapers also sells travel wet bags for $6.09 each in a range of fun prints and colors.
We also keep these flushable liners stocked. We started using these when Aubrey started eating solids and we could no longer throw the diapers, poo and all, into the washing machine. I had read reviews saying they were a waste of time and not necessary, but I feel like they are major time (and diaper) savers. They are biodegradable and flushable. It’s really easy to just dump them into the toilet and mostly prevents having to scrap or spray poop off the diaper so you can put it in the wet bag/wash. They are also washable if little one has only peed, just toss them in with the diapers and lay flat to dry. These are $8.00 for a pack of 100.
Daily Use & Wash Routine
When we were in Turkey and not out and about, or staying with babysitters frequently, we used the cloth diapers pretty much 24/7. As Aubrey got a little older we did start using disposables during the night because even with doubling the inserts, the cloth diapers still leaked a little. Aubrey is also prone to diaper rashes and in general disposables keep them dryer than cloth (this is a reason why cloth diapered kids often potty train fast, because they can feel the wetness and don’t like it – that and I think the moms get tired of washing diapers after a while haha!). Using them all day every day, meant we would go through our stock in about 2.5 days. I generally washed diapers every 2 days.
Aubrey is just over 15 months now, and being back in NC we are on the go quite a bit more, and she often has a babysitter, some of which are not keen on using the cloth diapers. So we use cloth the majority of the time, but provide disposables for our sitters if necessary, and we still use a disposable at night. At this rate that means I generally wash diapers every 3-4 days or so.
I have read other cloth diaper parents have had issues with choosing detergents, either because what they were using didn’t get the diapers clean, or because the detergent caused their little one to break out. We luckily haven’t had this problem. We have almost exclusively use the Seventh Generation unscented laundry detergent.
While Aubrey was solely breastfed I would throw the diapers, poop and all, into the washer. At that point their poop is water soluble and will go away in the wash. Once she started solids we used the liners to get as much off as possible, and if there was a significant amount of poop left on the diaper we would do the ol’ dunk and swish in the toilet. I wash them on a cold cycle to release any leftover residue without setting stains, and I use a touch more detergent that would normally be recommended for that load size. I also add some borax to help boost the cleaning power and to help release any smells. I then run them through a second cycle using hot water and no detergent. If there are lingering smells I will add some white vinegar to the wash. I then tumble dry them on low. During the summer if it’s good weather I will hang dry them, but so far I’ve not had any issues putting them through the dryer.
The microfiber of the all-in-ones and the pocket diapers don’t hold stains much, so I haven’t had to deal with trying to get unwanted spots out like I did with the prefolds.
The Cost Advantage
I did the math once before when we were cloth diapering all the time, but now it would be a little tougher to decipher since we do use disposables intermittently. I only usually buy a pack of diapers every couple of weeks so I would still consider cloth diaper to be a major money saver. To get a similar set up (with all Alva diapers and the cheaper travel wet bag) it would total $250.38. If you were to divide that by 104 weeks (2 years), you would only be spending $2.41 a week in diapers. If you were to buy a month’s supply of Luvs disposables (based on the size 4 pricing from Amazon), conservatively estimating using around 6 diapers a day, that would come to $7.56 per week, or $786.24 in two years. Granted you will need different sizes in disposables so that number might off a little give or take, and your little one might potty train earlier than 2 years which would also skew the total, but either way, cloth has a significant cost advantage over disposables. And to further sweeten the pot(ty), you can reuse them for baby #2 and beyond – meaning you will basically diaper for free after the first kid.