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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

diary of a first-time cloth diaper mom - week 1

I did a little project. I tried cloth diapers! 

I was curious, so I tried it out.
This is the start of another series on the blog. Cloth Diapering 101. Welcome to class, Mamas!

First, I should say, I'm not even sure "cloth diapering" is a term, but I'm making this whole project up as I go along, so why not use my own term?! :)

The first thing I learned about cloth is it's CONFUSING!

So, figuring there MUST be more moms out there just like me who were curious but perhaps a bit scared off by the overwhelming amount of info out there, I decided to do a little experiment trying out cloth diapers. So thus these blog posts. I've reached out to real moms who are cloth diapering experts (though I'm sure they don't feel like they are experts, I'm calling them such because they AMAZE me with their knowledge!). I'll be posting their pictures, how-tos and advice on cloth diapering here on the blog the next few weeks. I hope this is helpful to someone out there.

If you are a cloth diapering mama and want to share your input, please contact me at

I guess it was because of Pinterest and my projects I started from there - making homemade baby wipes, my own shower cleaner and floor cleaner, some taco seasoning. It was partly as a way to try to make some better things for us and also a method of saving money. I guess that's how it got me to think about cloth diapering. I had NEVER considered cloth diapering before. I was not interested in the mess, I was too busy with other things with being a mom.

Then I just wanted to try it out, see what it was like. I'd done breastfeeding and pumping. I had made my own baby food. I'd tried all these other things with parenting and yet knew nothing about cloth. As a blogger, I wanted to be able to know more about it so that I could put something out on the blog about it or at least help in answering people's questions in the group discussions. As a mom, I wanted to try this out, to be able to say I'd tried this other big thing many mothers go through.

I knew from the beginning I didn't want to be a full-time cloth diaper person. I thought though since I work for a school and am off in the summers and during vacations, weekends, etc. that I could at least do a few cloth diapers a day to save some money on disposables. Of course the idea that it'd help the environment was a great thing also.

So I started looking on Mama Swaps and found a couple of brand new diapers for cheap. I thought they were SO cute when I got them, so soft and perfect! Yet I had NO idea how to use them.

Then I randomly was away for the weekend to see my dad on an island of less than 40 people... one of their friends is a girl who uses cloth full time. Perfect timing to meet a new friend! So she explained all she knew to me. It was exciting and overwhelming. So much to learn! But this is how I think people learn best - by going to another mom's house and looking at her stash of cloth items and having her explain it all.

I felt so confused, overwhelmed and slightly nervous starting out. I didn't know what "system" to use to even get started. 

My biggest question was how on earth do I wash these things? I didn't want to ruin them. I ended up making homemade laundry soap and just used that, then got started!

Day 1 - Tuesday 7/23/13
So I decided today was the day to try out these cloth diapers. It was not a great day. This is hard! It's time consuming!

First, scraping poop ... so gross!
My daughter smushed it, put her hands in the toilet as I was cleaning it off. It took 10 minutes to clean, had to scrape the poop off with toilet paper... took forever, so gross! I've not even dealt with that much squished up poop when I was potty training my son. I decided right there, not sure cloth diapers are for me.

(Since this day a zillion moms have told me about diaper sprayers that hook up to toilets, these are apparently a must-have if you are really using cloth.)

I went to the store the next day and bought some Charlie Banana disposable liners so I don't have to deal with the poop again.These are thin sheets of what feel like toilet paper or dryer sheet (they aren't dryer sheets, don't freak out, just remind me of them!). You put them on top of the cloth diaper, against baby's skin, and it catches the poop. I've used them so far but haven't had a poop diaper on them to see how it works. They were 100 in a box for $10 at Target.

My good guinea pig trying these cloth diaper things out. 

"Man, I look good!" she says.

The cloth inserts were stinky also the second I took them off my daughter. Just a strong odor that I wasn't used to with disposable. I put them in the sink for the timebeing, not having a wet bag (the type of bag cloth diapers go into so they don't stink up your house- learned that on some site!).

However, when I did the wash at night, the smell washed right out nice and clean. I actually had fun folding and stuffing them again, putting neatly into the basket - they looked cute!

And that is what I've determined ... cloth diapers are CUTE, so you BUY them! It's kind of addicting. 

There are Facebook mom swap groups where you can buy used diapers in great condition. I didn't go nuts though. This is a project, so I got 3 for $6 each and 1 for $8 to try them out.

OK seriously, who doesn't think that is the cutest little behind you've ever seen?!

My daughter didn't seem to notice the difference in diapers. In fact, when she fell backward (newly walking, not super stable on her feet) she landed much softer in cloth diapers! 

I have noticed though that with cloth my daughter's pants/shorts/skirts don't fit! She already has a tough time fitting into some things, and with cloth I had to take a few things off because she seriously could not move. So there is an extra cost perhaps, needing to buy the next size up pants, which could be too long. Luckily, it's summer time, so she could run around in just a diaper or with a one-piece romper on so it wasn't a huge deal.

Day 2: Going much better. I think I'm even getting the hang of this.

The thing that threw me off the first time was the stink. They do smell. The second I take the insert cloth out of the diaper I can smell the pee. It's gross, not gonna lie. So that was it, I was thinking, I cannot deal with this smell.Then I realized picking up those smelly soiled cloth diapers for 5 minutes and taking them to the washing machine is equivalent to opening the diaper pail every time I take off a dirty disposable diaper, and then taking out that diaper pail once or twice a week and it STINKS. It's the same thing.

The difference with cloth is you handle with your hands a lot more than with disposable.

Yet even as I consider that last statement, it's similar to how it has been the last year with my potty training son. If he had an accident, I would 9 times out of 10 take it off, dump in the toilet, rinse in the sink, take to the laundry. (1 time out of 10 I'd say to heck with this Mickey Mouse or Super Why pair of underwear, they're a lost cause I don't want to mess with, and in the trash they went!).

What I'm realizing with cloth is that it's all a different way of looking at something you're not used to. You think you've got it down with disposables, because that's probably all you've ever known. Cloth is like, wait what?! I don't get it! So you have to stop and think a little bit.

The more you do it, the easier it gets. That's what people told me, and I wasn't so sure. But just like breastfeeding and pumping and dealing with nighttime wakings with newborns, the more you just do it, the quicker you adjust.

A Bum Genius behind... so cute.

Day 3
The laundry today didn't work well. They stink! I put them outside to try that "sunning" thing I've heard about and they came back to me still smelling like pee. So back in the wash again.

And again. And again. I've washed them three times... still smell like pee. And it's not a sunny day so I can't put them outside to do that sunning thing again. This is a lot of work, and in the meantime since I only have 4 to use right now, my daughter isn't wearing them since it's taking me all day/night to wash and air dry the diapers.

Cloth is a process. Just like many other parenting things. You just have to be invested in the process to make it work, that's what I've learned. 

Day 4
I have researched gDiapers because I think they'd be better for our lifestyle. I already knew at the start of this project that I don't want to be a full-time cloth diaperer. I think moms who do it full time are INCREDIBLE, so dedicated. I just don't see myself able to do that with my job and other things I'm more interested in right now. But I do want to do a few at home, especially with my school schedule that affords me a lot of weeks and summer time home where we're able to just save the earth a little bit, even a few diapers a day helps the planet and our budget.

So I researched gDiapers here at their Web site:

I was able to find tons of how-to diagrams and videos on there. They also have a live chat person to talk with you online and answer your questions. I talked to a woman for 15 minutes on there and had all my questions answered. She was SO helpful!

Check out these videos.

The one about the diaper breaking down is my favorite. I watched it 3 times and played it for my husband when he got home from work. It's sad to me how long it takes disposable diapers to break down in the earth, and to imagine what that's doing to our planet. I am not anti-disposable diapers. I know they are a good thing and work for many, many of us mothers. However, if I could be at home and wash a few diapers or use biodegradable diaper liners, then why not do it?

They have cloth inserts you can re-wash, or you can use biodegradable, toss into the toilet or compost inserts. I think that is the route to go for me - the ones you can toss. So I'm looking for those. But they don't sell them at Target or Wal-Mart or a grocery store near me. I've been told they're at Babies-R-Us, and They cost more than the disposable diapers though. A box of 32 inserts is $15 from what I can find. My husband says our Luvs diapers at BJ's Wholesale Club are about $30 for a case of more than 100.... so you do the math, it's much cheaper to purchase disposables.

So we're compromising with a happy medium. I think I can do a few cloth diapers a day at home and feel good about that, while not breaking our budget. Because again, one of the main reasons I started this project was to see if it would cost less.

The best way I see cloth diapering costing less in general is buying excellent used condition diapers. Otherwise, they are from $15 to $25 a piece from what I've seen in my quick research. That's not a lot of money when you compare it to years of buying disposables. However, it's a lot up front, which many families can't afford all at once.

Charlie Banana diapers seem to be a good idea, affordable and moms who use them love them. They are sold at Target also, so that makes it easy to buy all you need for them.

Still need to pick up my gDiaper inserts before I can try those.

More gDiaper info coming soon to the blog once I get started with those.

Score one for a successful first attempt at this cloth diapering project! 

So far I've learned this about cloth:
1. It's confusing, overwhelming, and there is WAY too much information out there, all differing, based on people's preferences and experiences. Sifting through it is a lot of work. 

2. Cloth diapers are the CUTEST things I've ever put on my child. Seriously cute.

3. Figuring out a system that works is key, or else you'll give up day 1. System for changing, taking off, tossing out, washing, drying, folding, etc. Once you figure all of that out - which takes time, not gonna lie - it's easier each diaper you change. 

4. Moms who cloth diaper are SO passionate about it and very willing to answer your questions. I've met at least 7 moms in the last few weeks during this project who were SO willing to talk about everything. Ask for help. You'll get it in no time! 

5. Cloth is a lot of work. Kudos to moms who are super dedicated to helping the earth and ensuring their babies are in clean diapers.  

6. What works for one may not work for another. All kids and moms are different, so find what works for you. 


Next up in this Cloth Diapering 101 Series will be some REAL info from some expert moms who have GREAT advice for you to get started in cloth. Hope you follow along the next couple of weeks. Cloth is fun to learn about! 

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