After 3 years my little dude is finally moving on to training pants! I have made so much use out of my set of cloth diapers, wow, having a slow potty trainer has really made those things a great investment. Three years into it can definitely say that have seen a few disgusting things, learned some helpful tips, and I have not regretted it once. Cloth diapering is clearly the right choice from an environmental standpoint, but there is also a bonus to your baby’s sensitive skin, benefits such as fewer to no diaper rashes, earlier potty training (so I have heard, this was not my experience) and very little risk of allergic reactions. The other huge benefit comes to your wallet! There is a big satisfaction that comes from walking past the disposable diaper aisle when shopping, knowing you don't have to fork over $20-$40 for a box of diapers that will shortly be used and sitting in a landfill.
There are plenty of resources for types of diapers, amounts, how to clean and all that, so many in fact that all the information can be overwhelming. So, to keep it simple here is a quick summary to get you started, from one cloth diaper lover to another (or a newbie!) here are the basics:
- It is easier than you think! All you need to get started is; 8 diapers and a sturdy wet/dry bag to hang on the back of the door. You will need 4-6 diapers per day (6-8 for newborns) so the amount you have, determines the frequency of your wash cycles. Personally I like to wash 5-6 days worth of diapers at one time, seems like the best conservation of water to me. Wash one big load, hang it out to dry overnight and you’re set for almost a week. Word of caution on this practice, the diapers. Stink. The wet/dry bag actually does do a great job of keeping things in, but there is a lingering smell towards the end of the wash cycle. I find the best way to deal with this is to keep the bag in the bathroom with a nicely scented candle or air freshener and just leave the window open a crack. Oh, and cover your nose when you empty that diaper bag into the washing machine, it gets rough for a minute there.
- Test out a few different types of diapering systems, with so many options out there it is best not to lock in to a complete set of one type of diaper without trying the fit of a few different types first. The diaper that sounds the best and looks the cutest in a picture, may not work for your baby. (on a side note, there are plenty of used diapers to be found on local resell sites/community pages, so don't be afraid to look into the gently used option. Purchasing used can be a real win/win situation, you get a cheaper price and the seller finds a new home for gently used items.
- To keep things as neat and contained as possible, line each diaper with a biodegradable liner, on most days it makes clean up pretty easy and quick. For the odd time when ‘something’ escapes the liner just wipe it off with toilet paper and flush. I started off doing the nasty job of rinsing the dirty diapers in the toilet, but found a good wipe down worked just as well. Throwing a handful of Borax in with your favorite laundry soap is a great way to naturally boost stain busting capabilities.
- An indoor clothes drying rack works great all year round, most diapers can be dried in a machine, but the thick ones can take forever to dry that way. For a natural ‘bleaching’ or freshening of the diapers, hang them outside in the sun all day and let the sun brighten the stains and freshen the fabric. I have tried a number of expensive green cleaners that claim to get the ammonia smell out and I can tell you truthfully, nothing works as well as letting the diapers sit in the sun for a day, even in the middle of winter.
- Most of all, go with your gut, you know which diaper will work best for you and your little one. If you have a bad day and pick up a pack of disposables, don’t despair or worry that you have ‘fallen off the wagon’, just carry on with your cloth diapering and know that each time you change a diaper, it is one more you saved from going into a landfill, and be proud.