Cutting Expenses

Cloth Diapers 101

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When I am around family and friends and they notice that my little one’s bottom looks like a colorful tulip bulb, their faces change almost instantly. 

Most moms know the look—squinted eyes throwing as much shade as possible, lips pursed tight in an effort to keep their opinions to themselves.  I am sure every mom has seen that face, whether over breastfeeding (or not), pacifier use, or your dietary choices when you are pregnant.  

A few braver souls have even asked me why I bother with cloth diapers when disposables are so easy.  I have been asked if my washing machine is covered in baby poo (the answer is no), if I am one of those “green” moms (not particularly), or if I am just broke (this is closer to the truth).  I have even had people see my baby in cloth, only to go out and buy us disposables afterward.  How nice of them!  We use those when we travel for multiple nights and don’t have access to a washing machine.  But how odd is it that people are so unfamiliar with basic cloth diapering that they feel the kind thing to do is to throw a pack of disposables our way?

So, today I want to clear up the mystery of cloth diapering.  I’ll tell you what we use, how we use it, and a few tips for the new mama considering cloth.

Why Cloth?

It is so much cheaper!  Any new parent who uses disposable diapers will tell you that diapers seriously hurt the wallet.  The cost for cloth diapers is more up front, it’s true, but over time you save thousands of dollars, and you can use the diapers for more than one child!

We decided to go with a prefold diaper and cover system.  We use OsoCozy Unbleached 100% Cotton Prefolds, because they are very absorbent and they do not irritate our little one’s skin.  They come in two sizes—size 1 and 2.  Our baby grew out of size 1 very quickly, so I would recommend just getting size 2 if cost is a concern.  We now use our size 1s as burp cloths so they don’t go to waste.

We bought Rumparooz covers because they came highly recommended.  They come in so many cute colors, are completely waterproof, and—believe it or not— we have never, ever had a blowout using these covers.  They come in snaps and velcro.  The velcro is great for getting the perfect fit around the waist, but as you wash it, it wears down.  Snaps have definitely stood the test of time, and are just like new wash after wash.  We purchased 12 of them up front, and it is the perfect amount.  They are good for about 3 wet diapers before you have to change to a new cover, so with 12 on hand we never have them all dirty at the same time.

You will also need some snappis, which hold the prefold together.

Our upfront cost…

Diaper Sprayer – $49.99

Rumparooz Diaper Covers– $14 for solid colors, $16 for prints—we used half and half, so it was $180 total for 6 solids and 6 prints

OsoCozy Unbleached Prefold Diapers– $19.99 for 6 , $80 for 24

Snappis-$8.99 for 3

Dirty Diaper Bag– 2 for $24.99

Total up front: $343.97

I wonder how fast parents using disposables spend $344 on diapers… and the $344 is for the years that our kid is in diapers, as well as for any other children we may have later!  It is the deal of the century!  Plus, if you are lucky enough to have someone throw you a baby shower, you can put all of this on your registry.  It would be an amazing gift to never have to buy a diaper!

Not only is it cheap, it is easier than you think!

Fold your prefold along the vertical lines (into thirds).  Open up the end farthest from you and set your baby on the diaper.  Fold the diaper up over the baby’s front and attach it to the back with a snappi. 

As your baby grows, you will have to pull the front corners out like you did in the back before attaching.  To adjust the size of the prefold, you can simply fold down a section in the front or back of the diaper.  For some reason, the back of my son’s diaper is always soaked, so we fold down the back before putting the diaper on him.   Put the diaper cover on, and adjust according to his size (once you have done this once, you can leave it until he grows).  Make sure none of the prefold is poking out anywhere!  If it is, gently push it under the cover.   This is an important step to prevent leaks.   Voila! You are done!

There are other cloth diapering methods out there like all-in-ones and pocket diapers.  We haven’t tried these yet because our system works so well, I haven’t seen any need to change it up.  If you use these other diapers and you love them, let me know in the comments!

How to Clean Cloth Diapers

Okay, so the diaper is on your little one, and he peed.  Now what?  Just unfasten the cover, take the prefold and toss it into the dirty bag.  No rinsing or spraying necessary!  The cover lasts my baby about 3 wet prefolds before it smells and needs to be thrown in the dirty bag too.

What about #2?  Well, when your baby is a newborn and is only eating breast milk or formula, his poo is actually water soluble.  That means you can treat this diaper just like a wet diaper, and it can go straight into the laundry without a rinse.  And no, your washing machine won’t get gross!   What about after he is eating solids?  It takes one extra step.  Take that stinky diaper to your diaper sprayer and give it a good rinse.  Then toss it in the laundry!  It is that easy. My husband and I are in the habit of starting a load of diapers every time our little one goes #2, which is about every other day.  It works out great if like me, you need a reminder to do the diapers.  And it also means that you never get that icky diaper-pail smell in your house.

When you are ready to wash, toss all your dirty prefolds and covers into the washing machine with the dirty diaper bag (make sure to turn it inside out!).  Wash on hot with an extra rinse cycle (if your washing machine has it).  Move the prefolds to the dryer, and hang up the covers and the bag.   Done!  It takes an extra 10 minutes every other day to wash your cloth diapers, so the “extra work” that the nay-sayers have told me about really isn’t bad at all…

***Special hint***  Laundry detergent is expensive!  I use this really amazing recipe for laundry sauce, and our clothes are always clean and smelling good… did I mention it only costs about $2 for 200 loads?

Cloth diapering has worked out incredibly well for my family.  It has saved us thousands of dollars, we have never had a blow out or a diaper rash *fingers crossed*, and our baby looks so cute in the covers.  I spend a small amount of time washing an extra load of laundry, but in the end it works out wonderfully.  I know I am judged pretty harshly about my choice to cloth diaper, but it is what is right for my family.  Disposables are convenient and very easy, but in the end, they were not a practical choice for us.

For more information about the amazing amount of money you will save using cloth diapers, check out this post from I Heart Budgets.  They use all-in-ones so the numbers are different from mine, but the message is still the same—cloth saves money!

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