Any Suggestions And/or Tips on Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposable?

Updated on February 08, 2008
K.M. asks from Everett, MA
26 answers

Hi, I am considering using cloth diapers for my next child due this summer. I have never used them but am interested in any feedback and suggestions on the best brands and the best and most sanitary method of laundering.

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So What Happened?

Wow, thanks so much for the great advice and info. I am going to give it a shot. I am NEVER done with the laundry as it is so... what the heck, I'm not worried about that. And I already flush poop now with disposables. Thanks again.

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E.K.

answers from Springfield on

My favorite brand of cloth diaper is Fuzzi Bunz. My daughter has been wearing the medium size since she was 4 months old and they still fit like a charm! I have also used Happy Herinys, Bum Genius, and Rumpsters, which are all good choices too. After the diaper is used just toss it in a bag and when you're ready to wash them just a regular wash in hot water is fine. I usually do a second rinse with vinegar at the end. Good luck!

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S.L.

answers from Burlington on

Fuzzi Bunz is a great cloth diaper. My sister-in-law has used these for her two children and she says they are the best she has found. Here is a web link: http://www.fuzzibunz.com/

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T.K.

answers from Hartford on

first I love fuzzy bunz they are easy to use and clean and But every child is different although most moms i talk to love fuzzy bunz. a few babies they dont fit around the legs good. I also know lots of moms who love swaddlebees i have a few but they dont keep my little guy dry so we use the fb's now for washing i use my usual washing soap and a few drops of tea tree oil and in the rinse DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER it will make the diaper repel fluid and we dont want that. I use vinegar in the rinse. every once in a while they will start to work a little less absorbent and may hold a smell you want to wash them once the normal way then wash them again with no soap just tea tree oil or lavender oil and baking soda. then in the rinse watch to see no detergent bubbles if there are some let it rinse another time until no bubbles and the water is nice and clear put vinegar in that rinse and they are good for another few months.
oh i dont know if this is true or not but i heard dont use seventh generation soap on a diaper it breaks down the diapers somehow???

hth
T.

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E.S.

answers from Boston on

I sent the below to the other mom asking about cloth... hope this helps! BumGenius is what we are using for our 3 month old, based on recommendation from my sister-in-law who uses these and HappyH's for her 1 year old. She thought we should start with BG's while we are doing a lot of changes, and then maybe add a few HH's into the rotation for longer nights as he gets older since these are supposed to absorb more. I don't remember the reasoning, but so far this has been working for us. Really dirty diapers require some hand scrubbing and/or bleach, which must have some adverse environmental impacts (!), but it's really the only way to get new-baby poop out. We're not at the stage where poop "shakes off" easily into the toilet, so we use an old sink in the basement. Plain old urine diapers are easy -- just pop them into a washing machine rinse cycle with others, then wash. For just-urine diapers we often even skip the rinse cycle. Since this is the only diaper system we've ever used, it's not that big of a deal. And we do use disposable when traveling, or when expecting a big/long over-due poop...

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K.A.

answers from Springfield on

Gosh, that's so funny that people are worried about running out of a clean diaper with cloth -- I think that's the greatest thing about it. You always have diapers -- never need to run out to the store to buy more. I cloth diaper, it is the easiest thing in the world. It's literally just one more load of laundry. Another great website is www.diaperpin.com.

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C.B.

answers from Springfield on

K.,
I found out in my childbirth class, there is only one service in the whole state of MA & it's out of Deerfield, MA & costs about $17.00 a week.

Good luck!

C.

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P.F.

answers from Providence on

I am now a grandmother.. but always used cloth. First disposable are way to expensive and such a risk for the planet that we are expecting our children to live on.
If your choice is cloth, google and look at them all, some are prefit, and some have velcro, others still need pins, some have covers to keep them in place. Organic Cotton is great, they wash well, they keep their shape, and unlike the ones I used for my children they do not need to be folded. Don't be afraid to use a diaper pail, you can use a simple bleach solution very mild, or I always used borateam which you can find in a box in the laundry detergent aisle. It's safe and inexpensive and keeps them clean and white. If you can hang them out to dry, that helps keep them more absorbent and whtier.
By using cloth you are helping to keep your child, and all the children of the world safer in a 'green' world.
Ezevia

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A.K.

answers from Burlington on

K.,
There are a TON of cloth diaper possibilities. There are prefolds with covers, Fitteds with covers, AIO (all in ones), and pocket diapers.

Washing is similar for all types. Load diapers into washer (if using a wetbag its easy to just dump them in & throw in the bag w/o having to touch the diapers). Once in the washer here is my method of washing: 1 cold rinse cycle, 1 hot wash hot rinse cycle with detergent, and 1 hot or warm rinse with approx 1 cup of vinegar added.

The vinegar is added to help them smell fresh and to help soften them since you can't use fabric softener on the diapers.

After they are washed you can either dry them in the dryer or on the clothes line. I found when I hung them on the clothes line that they needed a few minutes of "fluff" time in the dryer to make them a bit softer.

As for brands to consider... a lot of it depends on what style diaper you choose to go with, and what size baby you have. My babies were both very small at birth (5 lb 3 oz baby born full term but had interuterine growth retardation from complications followed by a less than 2 lb baby born at 25 weeks due to different complications). With small babies you really have to make sure that you stay away from "one size fits all" styles. Every single one I tried for my girls just didn't fit b/c they were small. For really large babies they often don't work well either because they fit great early on but they won't work for the entire time in diapers unless you potty train very early.

I prefer going with diapers that have multiple sizes. A set of diapers that has 3 to 4 sizes seems ideal to me. With diapers such as Kissaluvs you can either use all 3 sizes or since the sizes overlap a bit you can use sizes 0 & 1 for small babies and sizes 1 & 2 for larger babies. With my DD#1 she would have only needed sizes 0 & 1 but we had a few tragedies happen while she was potty training so, we eventually moved into the size 2's (we used all 3 sizes in the end).

Prefolds with covers are the cheapest for most mamas. There are multiple sizes to provide a good fit, and you can use great covers like Bummis or Prorap with the prefolds. You can even get your prefolds in co ops to save even more money.

Fitteds with covers are inexpensive but you don't need to think of folding or figuring out pins or snappis. They have either velcro (aplix) or snap closures. I prefer snaps since I don't like the velcro sticking together when I wash the diapers (even with the wash tabs I still ended up with diaper chains). Snaps are also great for when babies try to undress themselves since snaps are harder for their little fingers to do.

For both prefolds and fitteds you need less covers than diapers since the covers often are not wet and can be reused. If they are wet you can lay them over the end of your changing table and they will be ready for a use later on in the day.

AIO's are an all in one style diaper. You put it on the same way you would a disposeable diaper. They are a 1 time use diaper (meaning you have to wash it before its next use). Some AIO's come with varying features for baby's comfort or quick drying time.

Pockets are a style that someone else should tell you about. I am unskilled with pocket diapers and though most mammas really like them... I don't. The few pockets I had were hard to stuff (and I have small hands). I also had trouble cleaning them ~ I think I was using them incorrectly which is why someone more skilled with pockets should explain them to you.

As for where to get your cloth diapers? Myself and MANY other WAHM's make diapers and when you purchase from a WAHM you help her stay home with her children, you often get more personalized service (in helping you choose, then later use your cloth diapers). WAHM's also have really cool designs since they make a variety of diapers. Many offer dresses with matching diapers or diaper covers, and they often have all the accessories that make cloth diapering easier such as wetbags.

Wetbags are bags that you use to line your diaper pail, or you can also get smaller travel sized ones for your diaper bag so when you go out if you have a dirty diaper you can slip it into a wetbag descretly without worrying about it leaking or smelling up your diaper bag. On outings I usually take 2 travel wetbags with clean diapers in them and when I change the diaper(s) I take out the clean one to put on the baby & put the dirty one into the wetbag. For home use, wetbags lining the diaper pail make it easy for you to put your diapers in the wash w/o touching them The wetbags are washable and just get thrown in the washer after the diapers are dumped in. (flip bag upside down & shake diapers into washer).

If you want more information or want to see some pics of the diapers I make you can email me at [email protected]____.com

Hope that info helps!

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J.D.

answers from Boston on

I use bumpkin cloth all in one diapers and love them. I used the disposable with my first daughter, it cost us a fortune. With my second we used disposable for the first couple of months and then switched to cloth. We couldn't be happier with them. They are very easy to use and launder. I wash them by themselves is the washer (2 rinses), then again with vinegar (2 rinses). We hang them outside to dry and they still look brand new. I am getting some out today to begin using them with my third child. Good luck!!

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A.G.

answers from Bangor on

Cloth diapers are SO easy! This is not a time of diaper pins and plastic pants. I am a SAHM of two and even when they were both in diapers, we never had a problem. I highly recommend Fuzzi Bunz or any kind of pocket diaper you feel most comfortable with. Pocket diapers are very easy to clean, they keep the baby rash free as well. Oh, and as for the diaper pail, you can use a dry pail or a bag--there is no need to deal with filling a pail with water and trying to carry that to your washer. Simply drop the wet diapers in the pail. If they are poopy, you rinse in the toilet and the put in the pail. Don't worry about that part either--pocket diapers have fleece which means the poop falls right off. And if it doesn't, a VERY inexpensive sprayer ($5) can be attached to your toilet and you simply spray the diapers off. It really isn't a big deal. And, quite honestly, you are supposed to dump out disposable diapers too before you throw them away--it is illegal to put human waste in the landfill...not that most people do that. Anyway, the other way to deal with storage is to get a lined diaper bag (available at most on-line cloth diaper sites like www.everydaydiapers.com) and just drop the diapers in there. Then when you are ready to wash, simply throw the diapers AND the bag in the wash. There are no really special washing instructions--simply prewash with a little vinegar or baking soda (depending on your diaper), wash as usual and perhaps add a second rinse. Not a big deal.

As for the wash, face it, with one kid and then you add another kid, you will be doing a LOT of laundry. What is one more load? Really? Disposable diapers cost on average 0.20 a piece. That can be $20-30 a week. If someone gave you $30 do do a load of their laundry, would you do it?

Disposable diapers make up over 25% of our landfills. Remember that next time you drive by a huge landfill...that one quarter of it is made up entirely of disposable diapers. Most that haven't been rinsed so it is a lot of poop that is seeping into our ground. Gross.

I'm not some environmental, hippie, freak about this either, just so you know. Cloth is just far cheaper, greener and easier than most people think. Once you start you will wonder what you were afraid of. I know we did. We still kick ourselves for using several months worth of disposables with our first. Waste of money!

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A.K.

answers from Boston on

I am in the same situation except that my second baby is already 10 months and I've just decided to go with a combo of cloth, gdiapers, and disposables (still have some leftover and worry about nighttime/husband training). I HIGHLY recommend the gdiaper particularly in the beginning. THey are a bit more expensive than disposables, but you can find buld options that are ok AND if you plan to use them only in the beginning and then as a backup to cloth, the cost is not a problem. Check out their website at www.gdiapers.com. The people who own it are awesome, too! That said, I'm still trying to choose between AIOs and pocket diapers for the cloth option. :) Good luck! I'm going to post my question now!

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C.M.

answers from Boston on

BumGenius can be found on the web and they are absolutely great. They are cloth diapers with velcro attachments and cloth inserts. Because they have an oute liner that is waterproof they can be worn out in public. We have used this brand for both my 2 year old and 2 month old. Because they are sizeable we can interchange them between the two kids without problem. We used the same 12 diapers for my daughter's first year and a half and they lasted very well. The company is also a great one to work with because when we had a problem with a couple of the diaper's elastic wearing out they were replaced for free.
We wash them every other day or so (depending on how many we have used) with dye, perfume free detergent and some vinegar.
When we lived in Philadelphia the daycare our kids went to allowed us to use the cloth and they put them in a separate bin for us and we took them home everyday. The daycare staff told us several times that they actually liked our cloth diapers better than the disposable. Unfortunately we haven't found a daycare in MA that will allow us to use them.

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D.M.

answers from Boston on

I toyed with the idea of cloth diapers when I was pregnant. In the end I chickened out because I was nervous about being overwhelmed and running out of clean diapers.

If you are interested, I actually recommend hopping on babycenter.com - there was a forum there devoted to cloth-diapering and the women there had lots of suggestions and advice. They all seemed to love it!

I might try them one of these days. If you decide to go with cloth, let me know how it goes!
D.

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H.R.

answers from Boston on

My boys are both well past potty training, but I read an article in Guidepost magazine (Feb 2008 issue). It is about a woman who wanted to use cloth diapers and ended up started a company in WA called Babyworks. If you go to www.guidepostmag.com and click on cloth diapers there is a list of sources to help. I know that if there is a "next time" I want to use more cloth.

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P.N.

answers from Boston on

I love using cloth diapers! Really, as a lot of people have said, it is not much work. An extra load of laundry every couple of days, but no folding or anything, so it's not like doing real laundry. Really simple! And you'd really be less likely to run out of diapers with cloth than disposables, I don't get that argument at all.

Sure, if you leave your baby for hours in a wet diaper rashes are possible, but you shouldn't be doing that with disposables anyway. Really not a problem. You do have to be concerned with what you use for rashes if you do get them as the creams can mess up the dipes but there are plenty of natural solutions for that. For overnights, I find pocket diapers that have fleece or microsuede next to the skin keep the skin dry, all the wet goes into the stuffing.

Laundering is simple. I use a wet bag. All the diapers go in it then on laundry day I dump it in the washer and throw the bag in. I do a cold wash, hot wash then the drier. I use charliesoap and it works well. No icky chemicals. When DD got a yeast rash I added some grapefruit seed extract and tea tree oil to the wash and that was the end of it. Once the baby starts solid food you need to dump the poop in the toilet, but it's no big deal. They also have disposable diaper liners but I have yet to find those useful (plus not good for the septic, I don't think). I've never needed to rinse the diapers, just toss them in the bag until wash day.

We use a mixture of pockets, prefolds, a couple contours and a couple AIOs that I got used. Prefolds are the cheapest but the other kinds are so cute. My DH, who was skeptical at first, almost always uses the prefolds, he has no trouble whatsoever with it. Pockets are my favorite. I like BumGenius bc they grow with the baby, and Fuzzi Bunz and Pocket Change are nice bc you don't need to take out the stuffer (DH tends to forget this step) before washing, they come out on their own.

I'd recommend buying a couple of some different kinds to start out to see what you like. I loved the Kissiluvs fitteds on the newborn and now I like Kissiluvs contours as they are much cheaper. There are so many cool pockets. AIOs take a long time to dry but they're good for caregivers. If cost is an issue, prefolds are the answer. In the beginning it seems more expensive as they grow out of the little ones so fast but then all of a sudden you don't need to buy any more diapers for quite a while (that's where I am now).

Oh and sunshine is the best stain remover out there. Amazing. Enjoy.

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A.K.

answers from Boston on

The woman at Zannadu offers free workshops in the New England area on cloth diapering. She brings a ton of samples from the different styles so you get to find one or more that will fit your needs in a cloth diaper. Her website is: https://moiras.site5.com/~zannaduc/. Click on Shop and then Diaper Workshops for upcoming dates.

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A.P.

answers from Portland on

Kudos to you for considering making a cost effective and environmentally conscious decision!
Check these guys out, not only for the selection but for the advice on cloth vs disposables as well. This company was originally started by a stay at home mom :)
http://maineclothdiapercompany.com/cart/

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T.L.

answers from Boston on

I have two children who only wore disposable diapers. I know people who have used the cloth ones and never seemed to complain. Personally, I would be worried about not having a clean diaper when I needed one. I'm also not sure how I would feel about having to clean feces out of a cloth diaper.

I would say buy a few cloth ones and try them. See how you like them and make you own decision. Trial and error is the best way to find out if you like something.

Good Luck!

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W.S.

answers from Providence on

I used cloth diapers (way back!) for all 3 of my sons. I even had 2 in diapers at once! All three broke out with rashes from disposable diapers (I used when we were not at home) and I gave up on them entirely.
Sears USED to have "snap" diapers that had a series of snaps that allowed you to adjust to the growth of the child. I used a trifold basic cloth inside and the snap one on the outside. It was FABULOUS.
I kept a covered container for soiled diapers (rinsing them in the toilet first) and just washed with soap and bleach with softener sheets in the dryer. I was the most laid-back mom about this - I spent little time on the diapers and didn't even soak them while they were in the container piling up. My kids had NO rashes. The diapers remained soft, smelled fresh. The diapers lasted forever and it was so nice to NOT have to spend money OR race to the store to buy more diapers. I can't emphasize enough how easy it was and how lazy I was! I put my energy into my boys.......and making sure they were clean and comfy! good luck, hon.

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R.C.

answers from Boston on

This may sound weird, but cloth diapering can be fun! You can just buy yourself a couple dozen motherease diapers and you'll never need anything else for this baby and all your future children, or you can save money up front with good quality prefold diapers and velcro covers like bummis. Or start looking into the wide range of really cute diapers and covers out there made by stay at home moms. Then you can start swapping diapers - or believe it or not - sell them for a profit when you're done with them or decide to switch to something else. It can become like a collector's hobby. The diapering board on ivillage is a good place to go for advice on what to get and where to get them. Good quality is the key to making cloth diapers work.

I am presently using a set of hand-me-down motherease diapers on my third child, in my 8th straight year of cloth diapering. Practically speaking, using cloth diapers has been more or less one extra load of laundry per week for us. Sometimes we find flushable liners to be helpful. We used to use all-in-one cloth diapers for babysitters but found they didn't stand up very well, so now I just keep a small supply of disposables around for those occasions. For the newborn it helps to have a supply of teeny diapers and covers and/or use disposables for the first couple of weeks. I found that gdiapers worked well with cloth diaper covers, but they gave my baby terrible rashes.

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi K.-
I am going to CD my third baby. I recommend www.diaperswappers.com for some good info. To answer your laundry question...I will use a diaper pail with a good cover, fill with H2o and vinegar or baking soda. You alsway empty solid waste into the toilet anyway,**something you are supposed to do with disposables also-to be green** and then you just dump the whole thing in the washer. Rinse twice. I will likely hang mine out in the summer, the sun is the best bleach ever.
Also, don't go all militant on yourself on EITHER OR, I have nothing against using a disposable if I need to. MY daughter was allergic to the disposables (all kinds) so I got real used to the whole affair. If you do the math-it is only an initial cost vs a continuous spending issue. ebay is terrific for "lots" of diaper covers. I was lucky to have the ones I used on my daughter-in perfect condition 15 years later :)
I have heard good things about g diapers except for plumbing issues, we have a 100+ year old house-with really old plumbing and I shy away from what might make it worse :)
best of luck to you and your family!!

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E.M.

answers from Barnstable on

We are just making the switch with our one month old. Mostly we have FuzziBuns, but we also use prefolds with covers. Prefolds are more work and are not ideal for when out of the house. You can get lots of info by googling 'cloth diapering'.

Good luck, we are really happy with our decision to use CDs.

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K.S.

answers from Boston on

Hi K.,
It's so great that you are interested in using a more e-friendly diaper for all our childrens sake! If you have the time and energy by all means go with cloth! There are some green disposable diapers out now as well (Nature Babycare, Tushies) which claim to be biodegradeable. You can find them on 1800diapers.com in bulk options to make up for the cost. Good luck!

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R.B.

answers from Boston on

Check out gdiapers at their website. They are a hybrid diaper. Cloth outside, biodegradable/flushable insert. Work great and are so cute!

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M.S.

answers from Bangor on

Hi There-
I did some research when I was considering using cloth diapers. These were the facts that I discovered that prompted me to continue using disposable.

Cloth diapers are expensive to buy, and the easiest way to handle them is to use a diaper service to pick up and clean- also very expensive.

The process that is used to clean and disenfect these diapers requires a considerable amount of chemicals that in the realm of things is just as harmful to the environment.

If your baby has sensitive skin or prone to diaper rash there is a good chance that it won't heal despite use of cream/ointment as the cloth diapers don't tend to pull moisture away exposing already sensitive skin to urine. Certainly if you are going to change your little one each time he/she pees you may be able to avoid this.

I am not trying to discourage you from using cloth, more power to you if you do! just want to share what I discovered. Hope this was helpful.

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P.M.

answers from Boston on

I would go with the disposable. You'll be busy taking care of a newborn and a 2 year old. It will be hard enough to get everything done withtaking care of the kids, the house, and yourself. I have a 4 week old and a 3 year old and I'm busy nonstop so having to deal with cloth diapers would be too much.
If you really want to try the cloth diapers I'ld wait until you get into a good routine with the baby and the baby is sleeping good(which means you'll be sleeping good)so you won't be exhausted. and remember babies are always getting changed so it will be a lot of diapers either way
good luck with your new baby

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