While most mommies made the transition to using cloth diapers as a result of wanting to be more eco-friendly, or to create a more natural household, I have to admit that my primary reason for switching to cloth diapers was more selfish and shallow. The costs of keeping my baby's butt under wraps was taking a serious toll on the family budget and I was looking for a more economical solution. Lucky for me, the economical solution also meant the earth-friendly and natural solution.
We started using cloth diapers for J shortly after he turned 1. I was walking in the mall and I saw a display for cloth diapers with the most adorable designs. (Again, I emphasize that the switch to cloth diapers was not entirely altruistic on my part.) Right then and there, I decided to try out cloth diapers and we haven't looked back since.
Today, J is on full cloth-diaper mode during the daytime, which cut our diaper costs in half. We only use disposable diapers at night and when we go out. I have to say, I am not yet that confident about using cloth diapers on outings with J, but I'm looking forward to learning more about how other mommies do it so that we can try it out. We did make a serious attempt at completely using cloth diapers, but J pees a lot more during the night than he does during the day, which meant that he needed to be changed every hour. That's not so much the problem, since Yaya was very diligent when it came to changes. The problem was, my little man didn't like being disturbed while he slept, so it was back to disposables at night for us.
Anyway, for other moms who are thinking of making the switch, but are a little daunted by the thought, here are some of the things I learned when we started using cloth diapers with J:
1. Cloth diapers are not scary. Most moms are probably intimidated at the thought of using cloth diapers, since we came from a generation where cloth diapers mean gauze diapers that needed to be changed after the baby pees once and leak all over the floor. I even imagined a whole scary mountain-load of laundry everyday, given the way my son pees. But as with the evolution of mankind, cloth diapers have come a long way from the old-fashioned lampin. They now come with an inner pad (similar to the ones we use for our periods, only reusable) and a waterproof outer shell that keeps moisture in, so it doesn't leak right away.
Generally, you just have to change the inner pad and you can reuse the outer shell so long as it hasn't leaked through yet, so it's good for at least an hour and a half or two hours. In J's case, he pees less before lunch, so one set lasts us from his morning bath (about 7 a.m.) until it's time for lunch (about 10:30 a.m.) But for the rest of the day, it's an hour and a half between changes so the pad doesn't leak.
Even washing poop off it isn't as bad as you imagine. I can attest to this, since I've tried washing the diapers myself. Unless the poop is the watery kind, it generally washes right off. When the poop is stickier, I try to brush off as much of it as I can into the toilet using tissue and just flush it down, then wash the pad. If it's the solid kind of poop, lucky you! It will just plop right down into the toilet, with a minimum of staining on the pad itself, making washing easier.
2. Start out with one or two diapers first. Don't go nuts and buy a whole stash. Try out one or two first from one brand and see how that works out. Then try another brand and see if that works better. While cloth diapers come in a basic format, there are a lot of options. Some use buttons, some use velcro fasteners. Some are one-sized to fit babies from birth to 3 years of age, while some come in sizes of small, medium and large. Just as you would with disposables, find the one that your child is the most comfortable with. When you find one that you and baby are satisfied with, stick with that.
I started with one outer shell and two inner pads, just to give us a feel for what it would be like. When my son expressed no complaints about the change, I bought a set of 3 outer shells and 3 extra inserts (the outer shells usually come with one insert each, depending on which brand you purchase). This gave us enough to get through the days. Yaya would wash each diaper as soon as it was soiled and hang it out to dry. We only ran into problems during a week of constant rains. The diapers didn't dry in time, so I bought an extra set in case of rainy weather. Moms who only do laundry only once or twice a week should stock up on more diapers. I've been told that in cases like this, you can just rinse out the soiled diaper with water, then soak in soapy water until it's laundry day. I've never tried that though.
3. There's a lot of trial and error involved. Peeing habits and comfort levels differ from one child to another. My son drinks a lot of water and milk, so understandably, he also pees a lot. Since we were used to disposables, we'd forget to change his diaper until it finally leaked through his clothes. But with some observation and experimentation, we found that the maximum time that the inner pad would last without leaking through the shell is an hour and half. By following this basic time frame, the waterproof outer shell stays dry, and the only thing we need to wash is the inner pad. However, this may not be the case with your child. The first few days are really about observation and you really have to find out what works best for your baby. For instance, I read somewhere that during the night, you can put two inner pads instead of one to increase absorbency, so we tried that, but J didn't like it very much. Since he tends to get warm really easily, I'm guessing the two pads was too hot for him.
4. Arm yourself with information. As with anything, information is power. We're lucky to be moms at a time when the internet allows us to tap into the knowledge of other mommies who have gone through the same experiences. Moms are by nature generous and there's always help to be found when you need it, in the form of blogs and forums where moms share handy tips and tricks. Before you shop for cloth diapers, search for reviews: what brands got the best reviews, what were the problems encountered by moms when using this or that diaper. Compare prices. Determine the pros and cons of each. Troubleshoot by haunting forums to see what other moms did in similar
While my foray into cloth diapering didn't start because of selfless reasons, I'm glad that we made the transition already. I haven't given up on going on full cloth diaper mode, and with my new little bundle of joy making his appearance in less than two months, we hope to have him on cloth diapers as soon as humanly possible. The main goal is still removing disposables from our household altogether, but our part-time cloth diapering status has given us a lot of food for thought, which will be greatly helpful when the next little butt comes around for a change. In the meantime, I hope you'll join me in reading through the other great entries sent by other cloth diapering mommies and picking up some useful tips and tricks. (Click on the links!)
Other entries for Real Diaper Week:
Going Out of Town with Cloth Diapers by Chronicles of a Nursing Mom
Real Diapers by Miriam Ticsay
Matteo's Diaper Story by Happy Tots Studio
Our CD Journey by Hoo Goes Where
We Choose Cloth by Misisagun
Z Loves: Next9 Cloth Diapers by Young.Mom.Love
The CD Revolution by Jen CC Tan of Next9 Diapers
Cloth Diapers? Where? by Ms. Masungit
Nurturing Rafael: The Cloth Diaper Chronicles by Dinna
Stuff You Need for an Easier CD-ing Life by Tickled Moms' Clarice
Making the Switch to Cloth Diapers by The Articulate Pen
What We Love About Cloth Diapers by Swept Away
Surviving the Holidays with Cloth Diapers by The Common Mom
Out and About with Cloth Diapers by Organized Junk
Cloth Diapers: A Review of the Different Systems by Tickled Moms' Abie