Adventures in Cloth Diapering, Part Whatever: 18 (FREAKING) Months Later
December 06, 2012
COMPULSIVELY WORDY & SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC DISCLAIMER: A lot of people have asked for another cloth diapering post. And I really do mean "a lot." And hardly any of them were sockpuppets or the voices in my head. (Who, incidentally, sound just like Cookie Monster and Tom Hanks narrating a war documentary.)
But I kept not writing another cloth diapering post because I ALSO know that a lot of you could not be more bored by the cloth diapering posts. Bored! Boring boredom streaming out of your eye sockets!
Anyway. Guess what! This is a post about cloth diapers. The bored portion of the class is hereby dismissed for the rest of the day. Go sneak smokes by the monkey bars or throw vodka bottles at each other for awhile.
YOU KNOW, LIKE THE GLAMOUROUS PEOPLE.
The rest of you, well...let's talk hippie butt rags.
(Note: Amazon Affiliate links ahoy! I have no affiliation to any of the other sites/shops mentioned/linked, however; they're just the places where I like to be shoppin',)
So when we last chatted in excruciating detail, Ike was still a very small, slightly chicken-legged baby. We were using a combination of newborn-sized prefolds and fitteds with covers, and were still not super-enthused with the one-size options.
PROTIP: Don't kid yourself wth the "one diaper from birth through potty training" thing. Just...don't. While that might look like the most attractive from a cost-savings perspective, you will likely be much, MUCH happier if you start off with actual newborn-size appropriate diapers. Newborns are SMALL, y'all. Even my 9 pound, 15 ounce Noah was more like eight pounds when he came home, and would have NEVER fit in a diaper meant for a 10-12 pounder. And while they don't stay that tiny very long, even just six to 12 weeks of bulky, leaking and ill-fitting diapers are going to drive you (and/or your partner) up the wall, or make you feel like a failure. Trust me, you don't need that kind of stress from your diapering choice when you're all emotional and newly post-partum.
RETROACTIVE RECOMMENDATION #1: If I were doing it again, I would either buy one of the newborn starter kids offered by Green Mountain Diapers or the gDiapers newborn bundle (more on these in a bit). Yes, you will need to buy more diapers in a few months, but trust me: You (and your skeptical family members) will be much happier with properly-sized diapers.
By the time Ike was about five months old, most of my major issues with the one-size diapers weren't a big deal anymore. They fit him pretty well and weren't quite so ridiculously bulky. But I discovered that my stash of used diapers were in worse shape than I realized. The fleece and suedecloth was repelling/leaking, some of the leg elastic had given out, the microfiber inserts were woefully thin and permanently funky-smelling.
I didn't really want to shell out top dollar for new pocket diapers...especially since I'd grown pretty enamored of my prefolds and fitteds. So I ordered the next size up in GMD prefolds and Workhorse Fitteds, and then tried (and thoroughly failed) to find reasonably-priced WAHM bamboo velour fitteds like the ones Leanne had made for us, as she had to take an extended break from making and selling diapers. I bought a few different kinds of fitteds from Etsy, but ultimately have nothing to recommend here. The Workhorse fitteds were by far my favorite from this phase. I also love the Workhorse Doublers.
PROTIP: If you buy the Workhorse fitteds, you'll get a couple extra inches of growth from the ones WITHOUT snaps. Use a Snappi or pins. I've bought both and the snapless diapers always fit Ike longer.
But then. BUT THEN!
Right around the time it was time to upgrade Ike from medium to large prefolds/fitteds...he started getting terrible, terrible diaper rashes. Just awful, persistent chapping and redness. No cloth-diaper-safe rash ointment or cream would help, and for some reason, the cotton diapers seemed to aggravate his poor little bum more than anything. He needed something that wicked moisture away, and our fleece liners didn't seem to be doing a good enough job...unless I was up for changing diapers almost every hour on the hour, anyway. Which. Um. Yeah.
And then. AND THEN!
The rash got even worse over the summer. It was yeast. Fucking asshole yeast. We switched to disposables while we treated the infection with all manner of heavy duty creams — cortisone, an anti-fungal, followed with a protective coating of Triple Paste.
Meanwhile, our stupid HE washer couldn't get the water hot enough to kill yeast on its own, so I had to disinfect allllll my diapers. (Oh! OH how I miss my old machine! It finally died this year. Even though I polled Twitter for cloth-diaper-friendly HE machines [we went with an LG top loader], I maintain that my old cheap-o non-HE machine was SO MUCH BETTER AND EASIER.)
I straight-up bleached the cotton stuff. Everything else — covers, pockets, microfiber, etc. — was treated with liquid grapefruit seed extract. About 15-20 drops right in the washing machine. It took about three washings to finally stop the re-infection cycle.
But I was left a little gun shy, after all that. Plus I was getting tired of buying new diapers — however relatively inexpensive prefolds and a half-dozen Workhorses were — every few months. Our Thirsties covers were constantly wearing out before the diapers, too, since I could never be bothered to wash and dry them separately.
And Jason expressed his weariness over the diaper-plus-cover (plus doublers, extra inserts, liners, etc.) routine. He missed VELCRO, he said. Besides, Ike was now a solidly big baby. The one-size pocket diapers fit him perfectly, and I knew (from my experience with Ezra) that they truly would be the last diapers I'd have to buy.
So back to the bumGenius 4.0 One-Size fold we went. I splurged on five new one-size diapers (with velcro!) from Kelly's Closet, and then immediately tossed the microfiber inserts they came with into a bottom basket and stuffed them with Ike's outgrown prefolds instead. BEHOLD. PERFECTION.
RETROACTIVE RECOMMENDATION #2: You will never regret investing in a good stack of quality prefolds, like the GMDs. Even if you don't use them as a stand-alone diaper with cover, they are THE BOMB DIGGITY of diaper inserts. Easier to wash and keep smelling fresh than microfiber, cheaper than hemp and bamboo and all the other fancy fabric options. Cut 'em up and stitch up the sides and make your own doublers. If you come into a stash of secondhand pockets, skip the replacement inserts and buy some prefolds. They work GREAT. (And are also super-handy household rags, once retired from diapering duty.)
RETROACTIVE RECOMMENDATION #3: As far as pocket diapers go, I have tried FuzziBunz (both sized and one-size), bumGenius and Charlie Banana. I did NOT love the FuzziBunz OS — too much adjusting of too much elastic, and as the fleece wears out the buttons around the leg holes become more and more visible and can dig into your baby's leg. I had no problems with the sized FuzziBunz — they were about 50% of my stash with Ezra — though they didn't make great hand-me-downs because the leg elastic wore out. Minor quibble, though, since I got over two years of solid use of them.
Likewise, the Charlie Bananas wore out a tad prematurely for my taste — I'm now suspicious of any diaper with adjustable leg elastic, as the fleece tends to get holes and rip around the buttons. So I guess bumGenius 4.0s are my favorite by default, as the suedecloth inner holds up better than fleece. HOWEVER, if you are debating between velcro and snaps, know that the velcro WILL eventually wear out. If you hope to diaper more than one kid — which is a longshot, but always a goal worth keeping in mind — go for the snaps.
(Though I find the velcro gives you a better, snugger fit. OMFG I KNOW SHUT UP.)
So that should have been that, right? Maybe wait a month or two and buy a few more bumGenius pockets, spread out the expense, sit back and coast until potty training, right?
Enter the diabolically evil Kelli from gDiapers. Who arranged to have all this show up at my house one day:
I'd had exactly ONE experience with the gDiapers system, back when Ezra was in diapers and I took him with me to BlogHer. I had the (not actually terrible) idea to bring a package of the flushable/disposable inserts along and use them with his pocket diapers, so I would only have to travel with the covers. Except that I forgot to read the instructions and flooded my hotel room's bathroom because I just tossed the things in the toilet whole. (You actually need to rip them in half and either wait for the guts to seep out on their own or use a plastic "swish stick" to break it down before you flush.)
There are many different reasons to cloth diaper. I actually cloth diaper for three reasons: the cost, the Earth and...the cuteness.
gDiapers wins on the cuteness. gDiapers blows EVERY DIAPER IN THE WORLD out of the water on cuteness.
They are also a very cool hybrid-type system. The diaper is a trim cotton pant (that looks like little undies and comes in like, stupidly adorable prints) with a snap-in waterproof liner. You lay your insert of choice in the liner — we use the reusable fleece/hemp ones at home (OR OUR PREFOLDS) and save the disposable flushable ones for when we're out and about or traveling. (You can save money on the disposable inserts via an Amazon Mom subscription, which delivers however many packages you want however often you want.) (There are also flip disposable inserts, but I have not tried them personally.) You can reuse the same pants and liner pretty much all day, swapping only the insert. If poop gets on the liner, you can remove that and snap in a new one. The velcro is much better than the stuff on our bumGenius diapers too.
My ONLY complaints about the gDiapers is that Ike is still too heavy of a nighttime wetter for these to be a solid nighttime diaper. No matter how many inserts I pile up, wetness seems to leak through to the outer pant after awhile. So I use these during the day and the pocket diapers at night (stuffed with one prefold and one or two additional doublers). Not really a huge criticism. A heavy wetter who sleeps 11 or 12 hours straight is a LOT to ask of ANY diaper, in my opinion.
Oh, and Jason has really, really bad luck with flushing the inserts. He SWEARS he follows the instructions but has managed to overflow our toilet a couple times. (I have no such issues, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.) It is true that not all plumbing systems are going to play nice with the flushable aspect. A trashcan with a lid is probably a better option for some households (OR SOME HUSBANDS). At least you still can feel okay with tossing them because they are completely biodegradable. You can even compost them!
So that's where we're at. bumGenius and gDiaper shells, plus a motley assortment of inserts, doublers, prefolds and various other absorbent diaper guts I've collected. (I still use all the snap-in fold-over inserts from my infant fitteds, by the way. They work great as doublers in the gDiapers.) Everything is fun and colorful and easy, and save for gDiapers coming out with irresistible limited edition colors and holiday gPants (ERMAHGERD AGAIN), I think my purchasing days are at last behind me.
FINAL RETROACTIVE RECOMMENDATION/SUMMARY:
2) Then buy a dozen (or two) good quality prefolds. GMD, again, is tops. (I have them in small and medium — the medium is the PERFECT insert size for us now. The smalls are a little undersized for a toddler insert, though note that Ike is big for his age. I use smalls as doublers with hemp or microfiber inserts.)
3) If you use prefolds as diapers, you'll want about five waterproof covers, a pack of Snappis and fleece liners for wicking. I also recommend getting about two wool covers for nighttime, or for just wearing around because they are so goddamned cute. Etsy is a great place for wool. I'm a huge fan of the covers made from recylced sweaters!
4) Workhorse Fitteds and Workhorse Doublers are awesome and really inexpensive. Fitted diapers are nice options for nighttime, long car trips, for family members who are easily intimidated by prefolds, etc.
5) If you want to move to a one-size system, start trying them out around the four/five month mark, or when your baby is between 12 and 15 pounds. See which ones you like before fully committing to a specific brand or system. (gDiapers are technically sized, but there's a lot of overlap in the size/weight ranges, so you might not necessarily need to purchase every size.)
6) Mixing and matching is OKAY. Remember you can always use those prefolds as inserts and doublers in just about any diaper shell/system. You may prefer different diapers at night vs. the day. You and your partner (or childcare provider) may have different preferences too. So don't be afraid to TRY a diaper or two out as opposed to registering for EVERY DIAPER YOU WILL EVER NEED when you're pregnant and having them ready and hoarded in your nursery. Your baby's birth is NOT the apocalypse, requiring a year's worth of diapers and freeze-dried food. You're allowed to leave the house and go shopping and stuff.
7) As for diapering accessories, I like Planet Wise diaper pail liners and wetbags (get a small one for your diaper bag and a bigger one if you plan to cloth diaper while traveling). The GroVia Magic Stick and Angel Baby Bottom Balm are wonderful cloth-friendly rash ointments. Biokleen Bac-Out helps minimize pail odor. Charlie's Soap and Rockin' Green are the best detergents. And while we never used a diaper sprayer with Ezra, we bought one this time around and it's really handy. (Our HE machine is waaaay less forgiving about what we can toss in there than our old washer, alas.)
Okay. I think? I think that is it. I think I have mostly run out of things to say. Ike is 18 months old, and I'm hoping we can start potty training between two and two-and-a-half...though frankly I'm in no real rush. (PROTIP: Chill out, yo. Trying to get anything accomplished with a potty training child sucks way worse than diapers, even cloth diapers, especiailly if you're trying to force it to happen too early.) And then you'll probably never hear me yak this much about cloth diapers again.
(Maybe. Unless you ask real pretty.)