WHY YOU OUGHT TO USE CLOTH DIAPERS on your baby (Which reason is the most important varies from family to family, but here are the biggies):
- Save your earth! Do you know that the average American baby contributes over SIX THOUSAND disposable diapers to our landfills? And their parents have to pay for every one of those diapers to be manufactured, just to be thrown away after a few hours of use! And do me a favor–if you don’t dare make the plunge to using cloth diapers, PLEASE do one important thing: dump the poop out of that disposable into the toilet before you throw it in the trash! This is actually written on the diaper package, but most people either do not know about it or do not do it. This causes untreated human waste to go into the landfill, and you probably do not want to know what happens to it after that…!
- Save your baby! Your baby’s bottom is more likely to be cool and rash-free (really!) in cloth diapers and s/he can avoid possible problems with asthma flare-ups and overheating of reproductive organs associated with disposables. How would you like to have paper and plastic and mysterious gels on your bottom 24 hrs a day for nearly 3 years? I like wearing cotton a lot better!
- Save your budget! There are so many options out there for practically-painless cloth diapering that can save you up to $2000 during your child’s pre-potty-training years…! There are prefolds (rectangular white cotton diapers you probably think of when you think of cloth) that are quite inexpensive (but don’t get the ones at Walmart or you probably won’t enjoy it because they aren’t very good quality). You could get prefolds and good basic covers with velcro closures (like a Prorap classic–see below) for a couple of hundred bucks for ALL the diapers you’ll need until potty-training. Or you can get All-In-One diapers that are fitted (like disposables in shape) and have a built-in waterproof layer so you don’t need a cover–these are anywhere between $6-$20 each, but they are pretty easy to deal with (some day cares only allow AIOs for cloth diapered babies– WV law DOES allow the use of cloth diapers in day care), but this still saves you a bunch over buying disposables for $0.27/ea for 6,000 changes! If you (or someone you love) sews, you can easily make your own really great fitted diapers or AIOs for practically free (a pattern and some elastic & velcro and a dozen yards of fabric plus covers or waterproof fabric to make AIOs or covers).
Getting Started: You need a minimum of about 2 dozen diapers (for full-time cloth diapering) in the size your baby is. And you’ll need some covers (3-5 per size–Proraps work great with these diapers!), a diaper pail (a kitchen trash can with a lid will work), washcloths for wipes (we use those big packs of cotton washcloths from WalMart).You’ll probably have to change your baby every 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on how often s/he pees or poops (some newborn babies poop a lot of times a day) and how well s/he tolerates being wet. One reason we switched to cloth is that my first son always cried as soon as his diaper was wet, even in disposables, and changing him that often and throwing all those diapers away was costing us a lot and putting lots of diapers in the landfill.
For sewing your own diapers (instructions and other help):
Debi’s Sew Your Own Diapers Page (She tells you how and has sources for fabric, etc) Cheryl’s MyFreeDiaperPattern (a free, printable-one size pattern. I’ve not used it, but I “know” Cheryl online) Diaper Supply Sewing Help (Denise’s free help) Mama Bird Free Online Pattern (Robin’s pattern for 2-size fitteds and AIO with great instructions/pics) Free Online Diaper Pattern (I’ve never used this pattern) Instructions for making faux fuzzi bunz (for home use only, of course) Fern & Faerie’s Frugal Diaper Sewing Pages (new in 2004 and cool, uses thrift shop clothes to make dipes) Phan’s Butt Sweater (instructions for making a wool sweater into a pull-on cover) Born To Love knit cover/soaker patterns (in her Frugal Baby Tips area–how to knit & crochet wool covers) Ottobre Design free online diaper pattern (it is in German, sorry! this is a toddler/large size diaper) Diaper Sewing N More Tutorials (how to’s from a yahoo group moderator) How to make a simple All In One Diaper (basic instructions & pics–I liked this page) How to sew a fitted cloth diaper (on the cheap) (just what it says, with pictures) How to Make Diapers for Baby (general ideas, by a midwife) SewDiapers.com (non-profit help section by the OSDS mama, Jessica) Many Moons instructions for mama pads Grace’s free instructions for pantiliners (coming soon) Cyndiegran’s diaper sewing page Woodard Family Diaper page Rev Jan’s Baby Crafts (Cool stuff like converting regular bras to nursing bras, making gussets on any diaper pattern, Sling stuff, pumping bra) Sew A Baby Sling (not diapers, but this is a great online instruction for a pouch-type baby sling) SewingBabyDiapers YahooGroup (list owned by Grace, but you don’t need to use my pattern to participate) Diaper Sewing N More YahooGroup SewYourOwnDiapers YahooGroup
Patterns (don’t forget my pattern!) and fabrics for sewing your own diapers:
Goodness Gracious Fitted Baby Diaper Pattern (multi-size for nb to xl/toddler) Goodness Gracious Preemie Diaper Pattern (free, online, printable–I’ve been told it works well on nb if knit & serged) Goodness Gracious Pocket-Style Side-Snap Training Pants Pattern (free, online, printable–could also use as a low-rise side snap diaper or bedwetter pants with micro lining) Diaper Supply (Canadian one-stop diaper sewing stuff, WAHM Denise** Diaper Supplysells my pattern in Canada!) Janelle’s PULs (WAHM sells PUL waterproof fabric, aplix, FOE…) HempTraders (will sell retail hemp fabrics–call & you can get “knit hemp scraps” by the pound, maybe!) ElizabethLeeDesigns (WAHM who sells patterns for nursing garments AND SnapSource long prong snaps & the Better Baby Diaper pattern) Wild N Wooly Goods (sells co-op style, lots of natural fabrics like hemp & wool) OneStopDiaperShop (another WAHM–Jessica– who sells stuff to make your own diapers, fabrics, etc) SewingMommies (WAHM–Liz– who sells fabric, kits, hemp, aplix…) Sweet Harts/Make it Snappy (WAHM who sells snap presses & plastic snaps) Phoenix Textiles (an online fabric store that always has flannel and sometimes other great stuff for making diapers) FabricMart (an online fabric store that often has great wool jersey and cotton knits!) FabricLine (haven’t ordered from here yet, but they have microfleece, FOE, waterproof-breathables) Poo-Pockets (very popular one-size fitted diaper pattern, cover pattern, some fabrics) HB-Home Diaper Pattern (a home version of HoneyBoys-a WAHM diaper) Diaper Fabric.com (WAHM Mona sells fabric for diapers) Pollywog AIO pattern (I’ve never used this, either, but Sara is very nice) Wazoodle (Canadian fabric store that sells a type of PUL called ProCare & other stuff) CuddlebunsByU (a home version of Cuddlebuns-a WAHM diaper) Distinctive Diapers (another Canadian WAHM, Julie, with diaper-sewing stuff) Full Moon Baby Gear (a WAHM diaper company that also sells hemp fabric–I haven’t bought any here) PMOrganics (organic fabric–I haven’t bought any) BabyLove Products (sells kit or pattern for their BabySoftwear diaper and velcro, etc) Born To Love (sells some patterns as well as lots of cloth diapers and “frugal baby tips”–some about diapers) Mother of Eden (sometimes sells the pattern or a kit for Fuzzi Bunz)
Suggestions for those who want to use cloth diapers but do not have a home washing machine: This is not all my personal experience–some of it is from online friends. But I know there are people who live in apartments and do not have washing machines conveniently available 24-hours a day like others of us, and this is my attempt at helping you sort out some decent options.
�Ģ Rinse/scrape/spray/swish/soak (with a diaper duck, spatula, potty-pail, something) any poopy diapers right away and get them so they aren’t too drippy and DRY PAIL them (no soaking water). Exclusively breast-fed poop does NOT really need to be rinsed in advance of washing! The early poop-removal will result in fewer stains if you do ONE HOT WASH and skip the cold rinse/wash (the cold pre-wash usually keeps most dipes from staining). Dry pail ALL your diapers.
�Ģ Have a GREAT diaper pail and/or wet bag for your diapers if you are carrying them to a coin-op laundry. Something with handles? Bring a backpack or a tote-bag with your coins, detergent, additives, a book…
�Ģ Have enough diapers so that you can just go to the laundrymat on your “regular” day OR
�Ģ Handwash them at home with something like a Wonder Clean or a PowerWash N Dry hand-turned pressure washing machine (then you can have fewer, since you will do small loads and then line/air dry them). Do a web-search for them (I also found them in the lehmans.com catalog). I have done this a couple of times–it works pretty well, the only drawback being that the diapers are DRIPPING wet (no spin cycle) when they come out so they take a bit of time to dry.
�Ģ At coin-op, opt for the LARGE front-loading washers because they have room for more diapersand probably get them cleaner.
�Ģ One HOT wash with detergent and an oxygen cleaner (shout or oxyclean), if it doesn’t result in any rashes, will be the least expensive in the coin-op laundry, versus doing a cold wash and then a hot wash and then another wash without detergent for an extra rinse.
�Ģ Plan and budget your coins, detergent, time, etc to get to the laundramat before you are out of diapers.
�Ģ If you decide to hand-wash, use FLAT diapers, since they are the easiest to get clean and the fastest to dry. If you are really partial to the cuteness and the ease of fitteds or AIOs, consider using flats (birdseye, hemp, microfiber terry…?) or folding-stuffers to stuff pocket-style AIO diapers. Most of the pocket-style diapers are also pretty easy to wash and get dry quickly. FWIW, I don’t really like the microfleece lined diapers or pockets, but I do like them with cotton knit or hemp knit inner layers.