Adventures in Cloth Diapering, Part Whatever: THE FINAL CHAPTER
January 30, 2014
(Sorry, sorry. I guess when I said I would post this "tomorrow" on Tuesday I should have added "and/or whenever we don't get a dusting of snow and inexplicable school delays and/or closings." I spent 99% of my time yesterday either asking Ike if he needed to go potty or forcibly putting him on the potty and potty potty potty potty potty someone remind me why I thought this training business was a good idea again?)
Okay! After easily writing an entire novel's worth of words about cloth diapering a newborn and then cloth diapering an older baby, I feel compelled to complete the series with a post about cloth diapering a toddler. Plus a little Purchasing Retrospective, in which I tell you what was worth buying and what ended up banished or just turned out to be be kinda "meh."
(Any Amazon links are affiliate; links elsewhere are just straight-up "go here and spend money because it's good stuff" links and I get zero Internet pennies from them.)
AKA my favorites, the best, the go-to essential stash that dictates how often I wash diapers. When this stuff's all dirty, it's laundry time.
Clockwise from far left:
Cloth-eez prefolds, aka "GMD prefolds." I have two dozen size mediums here, enough to diaper with them exclusively. Honestly, I really only use about one dozen of them since I've (obviously) got other stuff going on in my stash. I know prefolds tend to intimidate newbie cloth users — the marketing on the "new" systems make them sound easier/better — but in reality, there is NOTHING EASIER THAN PREFOLDS. You don't have to pin them. You don't have to use the Snappis, even. Just fold them in threes and lay them in a cover of some kind. Or shove them into a pocket diaper shell. Use them as an extra insert or heavy-duty doubler or the world's best burp rag. Wash them however the hell you want — they aren't fancy or complicated or prone to a million troubleshooting possibilities like microfiber or suedecloth.
In fact, Imma say that no matter what cloth diapering system you go with, investing in a dozen good prefolds (GOOD ones, like the Cloth-eez, beware of thin/non-fluffy imitators on Amazon) will be one of the best purchases you will ever make. Listen to the crazy lady, here. BONUS: Because I don't bother with pinning or fastening, I moved Ike from the small prefolds to the mediums when he was six months old. I never bought the large size, even though he's well past the upper weight limit on the mediums. A dozen prefolds costs $37. Mine have been in heavy daily use for TWO FULL YEARS now, and yet look (and work) as good as new.
Cloth-eez Workhorse fitted diapers. Sometimes, you just need a good fitted diaper. Something that really truly fits your baby or toddler (as opposed to a one-size), with elastic and the ability to contain poop and absorb pee in every possible direction. But fitteds can be really expensive, especially since you know their window of use will be limited to the next growth spurt. Workhorse Fitteds start at $5.95 for a newborn size. These here are larges. I bought five of them when Ike was about eight months old. $9.50 each and worth every cent. Our go-to nighttime diaper (with an additional doubler/insert). You can buy a version with snaps, but I found the "no closure" option gives you a ton of extra room for growth. So you'll want some Snappi Fasteners (pictured at the bottom). I started out with six Snappis and am down to three after breaking/losing the rest.
gDiapers Cloth Inserts. I've used a lot of different inserts and doublers. A LOT. I've tried pretty much every fabric combination and brand out there. These are my favorites. They hold up GREAT, absorb way more than you'd expect from something so trim, are easy to wash (no microfiber stink!) and have a nice soft fleece side so you can put them directly on the skin inside a cover or fitted. Or shove a couple of them into a pocket diaper or boost your All-In-Ones.
(DISCLOSURE: I got these for free from gDiapers. I would gladly pay for them, however, especially since they work so much better than a whole slew of disappointing things I actually did spend money on.)
gDiapers Disposable Inserts. I was tempted to add these to the next grouping as more of a "supplement," but the reality is we used these a TON. I set up a subscription for them through the Amazon Mom program and I don't think there's a bag or purse in my possession that doesn't have a couple shoved inside. Biodegradable, flushable (with practice; there is kind of a technique to it in order to avoid clogs), compost-able, free of suspicious chemical crap. Great for pumping up your nighttime absorbancy; for using while out or traveling; for when you're dealing with a rash and want to use a non-cloth-friendly cream; compatible with all kinds of diapering systems and covers. Plus, if your toddler is a...uh...predictable pooper, you can put him/her in one of these during "that time of day" and then just flush the whole mess down the toilet in one fell swoop.
bumGenius One-Size 4.0 pocket diapers. I used pocket diapers exclusively with Ezra and originally planned to do the same with Ike...and to reuse the diapers I had. More on that in a bit but for now: Nope. Didn't really work out too well. I bought a few new one-size pocket diapers in the updated styles — bumGenius and Fuzzibunz come out with "new and improved" versions every few years — and have to give the edge to bumGenius. I have three of these. I ditched the microfiber inserts that came with these diapers and used prefolds or the gDiaper inserts instead. (Microfiber and my HE washing machine do not get along. At all. Ever.)
Flip One-Size Diaper Covers If I could go back and redo my purchasing, I TOTALLY would have just bought more Flip covers instead of any pocket diapers. The BEST covers, hands down. Flips are made by bumGenius so you get all of the same cute colors and quality construction of the pocket style — it just doesn't have the suedecloth pocket and you buy the inner "guts" and inserts separately. Perfect for prefolds or if you've got another favorite style of insert. They come in both snaps and hook & loop — Jason insists on hook & loop and bumGenius uses a higher quality than other options. I have five Flip covers here — enough for us once Ike started preschool (he wore Honest disposables there), but when we cloth diapered exclusively I always felt like we needed two or three more, just to be on the safe side or to ensure we always had an extra for the diaper bag.
THE B-LIST BACKUPS
Thirsties covers. So cute, yet so flimsy. These are only a few months old and the velcro closures are pretty much shot. I keep them in the diaper bag. If they get called into real action while the Flips are in the wash they are prone to sagging, opening up and basically being useless. If you can't get your hands on Flips and need to buy Thirsties, go for the snap style.
FuzziBunz One Size Elite Cloth Diapers. I bought these when I was pregnant. This particular style was new at the time and sounded AWESOME on paper. Or on the Internet screen. Birth to potty training! Hidden adjustable elastic in the legs! Adjustable inserts! I'd used "sized" FuzziBunz with Ezra and thought these would be great to use until Ike fit the Mediums. Yeah, no. These diapers were always ALMOST right, but not quite. Laughably huge on a newborn...and on the small side for a toddler. Inserts were totally meh, and by the time the covers DID fit Ike, the fleece on the inside was wearing out so the "hidden" button and extra elastic were always visible...and in the perfect spot to leave a red indentation on Ike's leg. Basically imagine having this nubby thing permanently digging into the crease where thigh meets groin:
The elastic is pretty shot on these too, even though I wouldn't say they ever got super heavy use. To be fair, they DID come with extra lengths of elastic so you could replace it...provided you were organized enough to keep track of extra lengths of elastic FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS.
THE NICE-TO-HAVES, BUT DON'T KILL YOURSELF, OR ANYTHING
Right before Ike started on solids, he went through a crazy "heavy wetter" phase that temporarily destroyed my soul and any ability to purchase anything that wasn't cloth diapering related. I went nuts on the doublers, inserts, booster pads, you name it. Cotton, velour, hemp, fleece, wool, God only knows. His overnight diaper was a oversized onion of layered fabrics and structural engineering.
Then the phase kinda...stopped, and we could put him in a more reasonably sized diaper. A fitted with a doubler. A prefold wrapped around a gDiaper insert. But I still have all these extra doublers and inserts. I guess I use them sometimes? It's nice to have some options in different thicknesses and width, but again, don't lose your mind over ALL OF THE CHOICES like I did.
The extra-long ones along the top were originally part of some fitted bamboo velour diapers I purchased from a reader (who has since stopped making them, alas). They snapped in and you could fold them over a few times wherever you needed targeted coverage. So great. I still pair these with the Workhorse fitteds. These were at least part of the reason I ultimately bought my own sewing machine — I'd have loved to have been able to make these myself and I'm annoyed that I never tried.
The middle row are small boosters/doublers — the white ones are...hemp? I think? and the colored ones are Thirsties Fab Doublers.
The bottom stack are (surprise) Workhorse doublers from GMD. Cotton might add more bulk than some of the other fabric options, but dang it, these are cheap and effective. (Though you could easily make these yourself out of outgrown prefolds.) I plan to sew a couple of these into Ike's superhero underwear as kind of MacGuyvered training pant.
And speaking of training pants....
THE COMEBACK KIDS
Wool soakers aka woooooooolie pantz. My favorite overnight covers, especially when Ike was younger and super prone to diaper rash. I bought all of these on Etsy (though maddeningly, not a single one of the sellers is still around and/or making covers) after being completely shocked at the prices of wool covers elsewhere. (I actually had two or three more, but accidentally washed them in with the diapers and ruined them.)
Ike wore these for well a year as covers (wool stretches and gives a lot — here's a picture of that orange soaker on an itty-bitty Baby Ike), but eventually they were too small to cover the bulk of his diaper. I didn't buy the next size up as the Flips worked fine for us at night and his butt toughened up, rash wise.
BUT. Take away the bulky diaper and you know what wool soakers are AWESOME for? Especially wool soakers with a little extra reinforcement in the target wet area?
YES. TRAINING PANTS.
Really. Believe it. Ike didn't really remember these as "diapers," and they fit him perfectly as an underwear alternative — even the ones he wore at just a few months old! He wears regular underwear to school, but when he's running around the house I keep him in a soaker. It allows him to feel wetness (unlike disposable pull-ups), but also does a pretty bang-up job of absorbing and containing the mess while we sprint him off to the potty (unlike real underwear or going commando). And since I don't really plan to need them all that much longer, I can be a lot less precious about washing and caring for them. I just toss them in a sink with a squirt of wool wash, swish it around for a bit, rinse it out, wring it out (a big no-no before, now I DGAF) and stick it on a drying rack. Next soaker goes on, the cycle repeats.
HONORABLE MENTION OF DAYS GONE BY:
gDiapers gPants. I really do like the gDiapers system. Despite getting a bunch of them for free, I still went and bought myself several of the pants in this picture. They're really well made (best hook & loop closure of all time. OF ALL TIME!) and so, so freaking cute. I mean, if you cloth diaper mostly for the sake of cuteness (a completely logical reason, if you ask me), there is nothing cuter than a gPantted baby butt. I used them for daytime, with either the gDiaper brand inserts or a (duh) prefold. Bonus points for fastening in the back so a curious toddler can't take them off when you're not watching.
These shells are all size large, which should fit up to 36 pounds. I figured these would last us through to the end. But Ike just plain outgrew them, even though he's definitely NOT 36 pounds yet. I think he's just too tall for them. I wavered a bit too long on whether I was imagining things (he's not even 30 pounds! let me cram him into this diaper again!), and by the time I realized he definitely needed the next size up we were officially too close to potty training age to justify any additional diaper purchases.
Tl;dr: Thumbs up to gDiapers, though I think the size large runs a bit small, and if you are local and would like some really cute gDiaper shells in excellent condition except for the one I spilled some red wine on feel free to email me.
THE Z-LIST BASKETS OF SHAME & DESPAIR
And then...everything else. Mostly Ezra's old worn-out pocket diapers. A few regrettable "bargains" I found on Etsy that were either poorly made or just plain weird. And so, so much microfiber. I converted the worn-out hook & loop fasteners on the old bumGenius diapers to snaps but didn't like what the change did to the shape and adjusting abilities. The old Fuzzibunz' snap fasteners still worked but the leg elastic wore out completely. Plus, I discovered that we just plain preferred prefolds and covers to stuffing pockets.
So I guess...wow. That's it. The end of an era! A weird, obsessive era. An era that my twentysomething self would have been like, "Whut? Who? Why?" and yet turned out to be immensely fun and rewarding. If also weird and obsessive. Thanks for listening, fellow weirdos. CLOTH DIAPERED BABY BUTTS FOR EVERYONE.