Cloth Diapering – How?

Using cloth diapers is not as complicated as people may think, but there are a lot of things to think about and when you have never seen anyone use them, it can certainly be intimidating at first. So here is a summary of what it has been like for us.

We have decided to buy Mother-Ease diapers on the recommendation of a friend, and we are totally satisfied with them. We can get them in local stores, but also online for a very small shipping fee, and they are made in Ontario. The service is great and from what I have heard, the quality of the products is hard to beat. We have 36 of what they call One-Size diapers, which fit a child from birth to potty-training. You can adjust them by folding them differently and using different sets of snaps (no pins needed). All you need to do is change the size of cover you use as your child grows. A cover (which also closes with snaps or velcro) is necessary to make your diapers waterproof, and the perk of the Mother-Ease covers is that they are made of polyurethane laminate (PUL), which breathes a little and is one of the safest plastics out there health-wise. Some people also use wool covers, which I haven’t tried, but apparently they work very well and obviously, they are more environmentally-friendly than plastic ones.

There are other options out there, for instance all-in-one diapers, which have a cover and diaper sown together. They make things more easy as you have only one thing to worry about, but they are more expensive, take longer to dry and wear off faster as you end up washing the cover with every use. There are other fitted diapers that come in different sizes to accommodate your baby’s growth, as well as prefolds, which have to be folded and attached with a fastener or pins. All in all, it seemed to us that the one-size diaper was a good option, cheaper than most, as your diapers grow with your baby, but of good quality, which makes life easier.

Our diapers are made of bamboo, which is probably the greenest option at this time. Bamboo grows quickly without the need for pesticides, and it is naturally antibacterial. It also absorbs more, so the diapers can be trimmer for the same absorbency, although it does make them dry more slowly. Mother-Ease also sells cotton and organic cotton diapers.

When your baby gets older, you may need a bit more absorbency, especially at night or for longer trips. You can simply add liners to your diapers. Mother-Ease makes some (bamboo or cotton) that snap into the diaper, but there are also other companies making hemp or cotton liners out there. We use a stay-dry liner made of a wicking fabric to keep our baby’s bum dry since he seems prone to rashes, but a lot of people do without them or make their own by cutting fleece into the desired shape and size.

You don’t need to bleach diapers. Actually, you shouldn’t bleach them as it will make them wear faster. If your baby is exclusively breast-fed, their poop is water soluble and therefore, you don’t even have to get rid of it before you wash the diapers. You just need to do a pre-rinse. Since we don’t have that option on our apartment’s laundry room’s washers, we rinse the diapers first with the help of a diaper sprayer hooked onto our toilet. You can also use flushable liners to flush out the poop. Either way, your baby’s poop is eliminated the same way yours is: down the sewer, where it can be properly taken care of.

The only thing you have to be weary of is laundry soaps. Some will not work well with cloth diapers because they leave residues behind that can build up and make your diapers stink. So you need to go with something simple, preferably with no perfume and additive of any sort. We found two Web sites that rate laundry detergent for use with cloth diapers (Diaper Jungle and Pinstripes and Polkadots). We use Country Save (sold at London Drugs, but call first as we found that not all stores carry it) and we are extremely happy with the result as well as the price. You also need to use very little detergent, again to avoid build-up issues. That makes laundering your own diapers even cheaper.

Many people prefer to use a diaper service, which costs a bit more but simplifies your life. You drop your diapers in the bag given to you buy the service, and once a week they pick up the used diapers and drop a bag of clean diapers. This way uses less water as the diapers are washed in big batches, but the services have to use bleach and harsher soaps as the diapers are used on different babies all the time, and the diapers used are generally not as high quality, and therefore not as user-friendly.

Most people these days use a dry-pail method, which means that they just put wet and soiled (rinsed or not, depending) diapers in their diaper pail and take them out on laundry day. A washable diaper pail bag makes things all the more easy as you empty it in the washer, then drop the bag in the washer, too. The other method, called wet pail, consists of storing soiled and wet diapers in a pail containing a bit of water and either a bit of detergent or baking soda, or some other recipe (there seems to be as many as there are cloth diapered babies). In my experience it is unnecessary and make things harder on laundry day as the pail is a lot heavier to handle.

A lot of our friends use disposable diapers when they are out and about, but we just carry a dry bag (the type made for kayaking, like this) which is very light and small to carry when empty, yet can fit several used diapers. Since we use wash cloths and water instead of wipes, we just put a few wet ones in a Ziploc bags, and we’re ready to go! We have never had any problem. Sure, you do have to change the diapers more often than you would have with disposables, but you should be changing them often anyway for your baby’s health.

I’m sure that I’m forgetting some info, but I would be happy to answer any question on the subject. There is also a lot of information on the Internet on various websites. A good way to start if you are interested in cloth diapering is to join a forum online. Again, Mother-Ease has a very good one with a lot of savvy moms giving advice to the newbies.

Happy diapering!

2 Responses to “Cloth Diapering – How?”

  1. Danielle Says:

    Je te trouve courageuse! Je n’ai jamais fait ça, mais je te lis et je me dis que j’aurais dû! Je voyais les couches en tissu comme un ramassis de problèmes supplémentaires alors que ça semble assez simple, au fond! Bisous!

  2. sophie Says:

    Ton commentaire me fait plaisir parce que c’est justement ce que j’essaye de faire : montrer aux gens que ce n’est pas si compliqué. Je suis persuadée que plus de gens choisiraient les couches de tissu s’ils savaient à quoi les couches modernes ressemblent et combien elles sont faciles d’utilisation! Mais c’est dur de concurrencer la grosse machine publicitaire des fabriquants de couches jetables…