Cloth Diapers - Making the Switch

Updated on July 18, 2007
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
14 answers

I have a 27 month old son, a 7 month old son and we are starting to talk about our third, and final baby. We currently use disposable diapers for both boys, and I am hoping (fingers crossed) that my 2 year old will make strides in potty training before winter (he'll be 2 1/2 by fall). Has anyone out there made the switch to cloth diapers after a few years of disposable? Two kids in diapers is so expensive! It seems like the investment in cloth will save us money in the long run but my husbnad is very hesitant to make the switch... his latest comment on the subject was, are you then going to change all the diapers? He changes both boys almost always he is home at this point.

Some advice from mama's who use or have switched to cloth would be greatly appreciated. Favorite brands, did you buy new or used, how horrible is the laundry, etc.

Thanks!
J.

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M.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

Regarding the laundry issue, we used cotton liners and they take the bulk of the 'mess', if you will, and you just empty them over the toilet. Not too bad and you save tons of money and landfill space etc.
However, I suggest you use disposables over night, because the cloth tends to get very wet.
Worth a try!

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E.T.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi J.
I switched to cloth diapers when my first child was a year and then used them for my second child from about 3 months. I used two different types of diaper, the first I didn't like at all, but the second ones I loved and they were Motherease diapers which is a brand from Canada. They look just like a disposable diaper in their shape and they are very absorbant without being too bulky. I also used their brand of diaper cover and can honestly say had no leaks at all. The diaper it self lasts the whole time your child is in them in that it adjusts using snaps. The covers last for a while and also can adjust with snaps or velcro, but they come in sizes small to very large.
As for washing them it really was no problem. I used the put them in a dry pail - did do wet at first, but decided it smelt too much and dry pailing worked out fine. I would wash every other day and would put them on a hot wash with very little detergent. I then washed them a second time with a load of clothes on warm just to make sure they were really clean - no it didn't make my clothes smell.
I hope this helps you. I did lots of research before I switched to cloth and the motherease website answered a lot of questions.
If you do decide to go with cloth I do have some motherease diapers I am selling as my daughter is now potty trained, just let me know. I bought all my diapers on ebay or the motherease selling forum, never new. I probably saved $200 this way and can now resell them and get some money back. children in cloth diapers do seem to potty train sooner too which is a bonus.

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H.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

I used disposables with my first and plan on using cloth with my second. The upfront cost is VERY expensive, well, if you own your diapers. You could probably hire a diaper service, then you won't have to worry about any gross laundry. The site I plan on using to purchase my diapers is http://www.cottonbabies.com/ I am planning on buying the one size diapers (bumGenius), since they grow with the baby...they give you all kinds of advice on the site, so even if you don't choose them, it's worth the look!!! Good Luck!!!

B.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I disagree that there is little difference environmentally between cloth and disposable. Disposable diapers, when made, release toxins into the air, which are harmful to the ozone layer, and the smoke the plant releases is TOXIC! so its not only landfills to worry aobut, its the making of the diapers. Plus the chemicals in them... not something I want touching my baby!

WE use FuzziBunz, and switched when our oldest was little. He had serious eczema and we were willing to try anyhting to help it out, and I was stuck! my husband hated it at first, we were using prefolds and cvoers and they are a little harder but not much, and whe nI bought the Fuzzi Bunz he chagnes them easily now. THey go on very simply, snap right on.

I would so GO FOR IT! Its a great thing for you, your baby, and the environment! Let me knwo if you need any help or websites. :)

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J.H.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

We don't quite fit your question, as we have been using cloth from the start, but I thought I might add my two cents anyhow. We love using cloth--you do have to be up for doing an extra load of laundry 2-3 times per week, but I've found the time investment to be pretty small. (I don't mind doing laundry, though.)

A site you might find useful is www.diaperpin.com. The site has user reviews of all sorts of cloth diapers and accessories. It also has a For Sale or Trade board on its forum (you might have to hunt around a bit to find it, but it's there). You can often get really good deals on used diapers there--a good substitute for eBay, which might still be refusing to post sales of used dipes. You can sometimes find used dipes on craigslist, too.

Another really useful site is http://www.diapersafari.com/diaperinfo/clothdiaperinfo/ --here, you'll find ideas about how many dipes of each type you'd need for a variety of approaches to cloth diapering (using mostly all-in-ones, mostly prefolds, or an in-between option).

I think that you are correct that it would probably save you money to use cloth with your 2nd and 3rd kids. If you go for prefolds, the dipes will be pretty inexpensive to start, and if you go for fancier dipes (all-in-ones, pocket dipes, or even fitteds), you could probably resell them on diaperpin.com or craigslist when you're done. To get more specific, check out the cost comparison for the first year on that Diaper Safari link I noted above.

As for the environmental question, at least one major research study on the topic did not take into account the landfill contribution of disposables when comparing disposables and cloth! (They also neglected to consider that you can use cloth for more than one baby.) Since that study found that the two were pretty equivalent, NOT counting the landfill waste, it actually provides evidence that cloth is better environmentally. Though if you use a diaper service, the environmental benefit is less clear.

Good luck with your decision! And if you do decide to try cloth, make sure your hubby is up for giving it a few weeks' trial run, at least. It can take a little bit to get used to the new routine.

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M.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

I switched to cloth when my son was a year old. There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers out there that I found it overwhelming trying to decide which would work best. I ended up finding a "Try Cloth" program at www.jilliansdrawers.com which allowed me to try several different kinds for a couple of weeks and return any or all with no obligation. This was very helpful because I was hesitant to make the initial investment without knowing what was going to work for us. I ended up getting the Bumgenius one size pocket diapers and love them. I plan on using them for the next baby (coming in November) too. They probably won't fit though until the baby is a couple of months old but after that they will last until they're potty trained! Good luck with your decision.

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L.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

My husband was actually the one pushing for cloth diapers with our first. I think a lot of your success with cloth diapering will depend on whether or not you find a diaper system (and there are an overwhelming number of choices these days) that works with your family's lifestyle.

We have used Fuzzi Bunz (www.fuzzibunz.com) for our daughter since she was a newborn. When she was a newborn, I did a load of diapers almost every day, since I only purchased 12 diapers. We still have a stash of 12 diapers and now that she is older (2) we do a load every 2-3 days. The upfront expense can be significant, depending on the brand of diaper you choose. The kind we use have adjustable snaps, so they fit for a long time. I have only purchased 36 cloth diapers total since my daughter has been born, plus a few additional liners and other accessories, such as a washable diaper pail bag. We'll be using the same diapers for our next child, although I'll need to swap out some of the pinks in our stash for blues this time around. :) I never could find the perfect combination of diaper and liner for overnight, so we just use Huggies overnights at nighttime.

As far as changing diapers, for newborns, it's no harder than changing disposable diapers. If you breastfeed, even poopy diapers can go straight into the wash. Once baby starts solids, a poopy diaper means a detour to the toilet the flush the solids before washing. It's a little more of a pain when you are out and about because yes, you'll be bringing home a wet or poopy diaper on occasion. I always have a stash of plastic bags in my purse or diaper bag just in case. They also make disposable liners for cloth diaper that can be flushed along with any poop.

I find washing the diapers to be pretty simple. We store our dirty ones in a trash can w/ a lid in a washable bag. When it's time for a wash, I just bring the bag down to the basement and turn it inside out into the washer. The bag gets washed along with the diapers. Most diaper manufacturers recommend a presoak and hot water wash for diapers. I've been using a specialty detergent for our diapers (it doesn't take very much) but I've also had success using All Free and Clear to wash. The diapers and the bag go into the dryer when they are clean and we're all set.

Good luck if you decide to make the switch. There are tons of online resources available with information about cloth diapering, so it might be worth checking out some of the different systems available to see if there is one that will work for you. Here are a few websites with general info:
http://www.diaperpin.com
http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/articles/cloth-diaperi...
Many of the cloth diaper sellers also have lots of info on their sits about cloth diapering.

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K.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

I started with cloth diapers, but the laundry ended up being a big problem. I ruined half my batch by not getting them cleaned fast enough. My husband was exactly like yours (he also said "are you going to change them all, then?"...and pretty much I did).

Some of the cost savings for cloth diapers comes from being able to use them with multiple children. Starting at the end, so to speak, is probably not going to save you a lot of money. You will want to spend an hour or so really crunching the numbers, using actual diaper prices, to decide. Getting second-hand diapers would definitely help, and eBay is a good choice, as another poster said.

If you want to get cloth and you want your husband to help, get all-in-one diapers. This is the kind with a cover bonded to the liner - they're more expensive, but it's a one-piece on-off operation, and my husband was actually willing to use them sometimes.

It doesn't sound like the environmental impact is a big part of your concern, but in case it is, cloth vs. plastic isn't as big a difference as it sounds. The laundering uses a lot of water and energy, which offsets the landfill waste somewhat. If environmental is a concern, you might want to look into gDiapers - but they're not significantly cheaper than disposables.

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T.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Why don't you just use Target diapers (disposables). That is what I use and they are great. They are VERY cheap. A box of 100'ish is $13 for size 3 at least. More diapers for smaller sizes, less for larger sizs like every brand. I would not want the extra work especially with more kids. Just go cheaper in the disposables. That's my advice. I do daycare and have 3 in diapers. I don't know if you plan to stay home with them all, but most daycares will not do cloth either.

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S.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

We switched to cloth diapers for our 15-month-old son Oliver a few months ago, and found that there are numerous types of diapers to be aware of. There are pocket diapers, which allow you to insert absorbent liners as needed, so you can add an extra liner at night. These are nice because, since the diapers are separate from the liners, they dry quickly compared to other types of cloth diapers. The all-in-one type work fine but take a long time to dry. We use Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius brands of pocket diapers. The Fuzzi Bunz are okay, but we prefer the Bum Genius. They are very high quality, and the fact that they are one size fits all is convenient for when we have another baby. At Nickisdiapers.com, you can purchase a sample pack that has four different brand of pocket diapers if you want to compare. Also, once you are finished with the diapers, the resale value is good if the diapers are taken care of, allowing you to make some of your money back. Be aware that Ebay does not allow the sale of used cloth diapers any more, which is a bummer. We switched at about one year, and don't regret it one bit. Good luck!

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J.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hey J., sorry I'm a little late. I just switched my kids to cloth and am still in the process of it. First I went and got some prefolds, flats, plastic pants and pins from Babies R Us. I also got some orange micro shammy cloths from Sam's club (cheap and VERY absorbant). I fold up the micro shammy into thirds, wrap a prefold around it and then lay it into a flat. Then I pin it on and the put the plastic pants on. I have yet to have a single leak and I'm diapering a 40 lb, 3 1/2 year old special needs child and a 18 month old. Sometimes if I want less bulk I'll skip the prefold part. Now, while I'm doing this, I'm sewing fancy cloth diapers and boy are they cute. There is a fabric called PUL which is Polyurethane Laminated fabric. This is what the outer layer is because it's laminated and breathable. Then I use suedecloth for the inner layer. I leave an opening in the back to later stuff them with the micro shammy cloths. Just sew them together, add some elastic at the legs and back, stitch on some velcro and you're done. This is nice because I can prestuff them all and then they are just like a disposables. Great for husbands :o) They're easy to make if you know how to sew at all. You can get the PUL off the internet from a lady in St. Cloud, MN and the suedecloth at Joann's. There is a pattern that a friend of mine has online that basically shows you how to make Fuzzi Buns. I just took a disposable and traced it, smoothed out some sharp curves and made the tabs longer since there isn't as much stretch in the fabric as the disposable. The suedecloth is nice because it's soft and the poop just falls off into the toilet. Anything that doesn't fall right off can just go into the wash. Since I have 2 in diapers and a front loader on my main level, I just toss the diapers into it all day long and shut the door. When they go to bed I run it quick and fold them and we are ready for the next day.
I'm sorry this is getting SO long but good info is hard to come by. I've researched for months to get to this point :o) Please email me if you want more info, links or have questions.
Good luck,
J.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

We started out with cloth diapers and it was a BIG mistake--constant laundry, never enough of the velcro pants to go over the diaper, etc. It was a HUGE source of stress and anxiety. And it made changing diapers away from home even more difficult since you have to save the dirty cloth diaper.

If your husband is changing diapers, I wouldn't switch to cloth if he isn't 100% behind that, especially if money is the main reason. You're so lucky that he's willing to do that:)

Maybe see if you can cut costs somewhere else, or at least figure out if the money saved is really worth it.

Good luck!
K.

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H.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

I think you should go for it- Cloth Diapering is actually really cute and fun nowdays and once you find out and read all the bad TOXINS that are in huggies/pampers etc you wont think twice about your little ones.
I also second the fuzzibunz- they work great-wash great and could for the outings just have it all stuffed and ready to go and have a little wet bag they make all sorts of cute/stylish bags out there or bummis makes a small one to store used diapers ont he go.
I also spent several hours researching its can be very overwhelming since there is so many out there- it may be trial and error on some but you can go wrong with fuzzibunz and another home based one I really like was babysoftwraps.com those are awesome too! Check it out-diaperpin.com has alot of reviews and styles
also if you want something for just out and about you can get disposables from Whole Foods brand is 7th generation (green pacakage-there are no harmful chemicals dyes or toxins those works great too not that much more when you think of how much better they are for your kids-take are! hope this helps a bit!
you can email if you have another questions
[email protected]____.com
good luck

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M.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

I started out with cloth diapers and I love them. I made all of mine - all in ones - which was a lot of work and is only something a first time hormonal pregnant woman would do. You can get great deals on lots of gently used diapers on Ebay. On the internet, you can find a little sprayer thing you can attach to the toilet for spraying off poopy diapers. At BabiesRUs, you can also get these super cheap ($3 for a package of 3) retro vinyl pants that work great as covers for overnights.

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