POTTY BY HULK
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Adventures in Cloth Diapering, Part Whatever: THE FINAL CHAPTER

(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.)

THE A-LIST

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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. 

That said...

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.)

That said...

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. 

Next up...

THE B-LIST BACKUPS

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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:

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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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. 

 

Comments

Joanna

Thank you for all the many many words about cloth diapers! I think it was mainly your adventures in cloth diapers that convinced me to try them with my 8-month-old, after using all disposables on my now-4-year-old twins, and despite some skeptics among the other people who diaper my little one. And your blog and advice column helped me understand that it's not all or nothing (i.e. we use disposables at night and when we're out, and my husband leaves me alone about the weird hippie cloth diapers and I don't pester him to use them when he's doing the diapering). So thank you for my baby's cute little cloth-covered butt!

Erin

Thank you for each and every word you ever wrote about cloth diapers. I don't think I have considered them before, but when my first babe was born last spring, I took the plunge. GMD prefolds from the start, with Thirsties covers. When he started daycare at 4 months, they were open to cloth, so we got a bunch (like 10) Flip covers and send those pre-loaded with prefolds every day. He's 9 months now, and still going strong with the small size GMDs. My sister knit me some woolie soakers, and I'm glad to know they will be just as useful when he starts potty-training!

Melissa

These:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MarcyArtsy?ref=search_shop_redirect

Her wool covers have gotten us from newborn through preschooler so far. I still put the size XL on my giant three year old each night as a backup plan. I've even accidentally washed and felted one but it just went down a size...and turned out perfect as a training pant.

M

OK, am I a weird cloth diaperer that I just have the BumGenius elementals (no patience for hang drying anything) and that's all I've ever used for 2 girls? I had to buy a new set for my second and we had the first in disposables at night from about 14m on but that was it.

Heather

Hey. This childless woman has read each and every word about cloth diapers and now have this wealth of knowledge I likely will never need. NOW who's weird and obsessive?

Plus, can we go back to calling him Baby Ike?

Sam

Ok. I am so weird. I have no children (but just got married!) and have found these posts endlessly fascinating. I'm convinced we can do it once the day comes. Now to get my husband on board!

Jenn

I'm with Heather!

Karen

Thank you for all your posts on cloth diapers! I started reading them before my son was born and now I've been happily cloth-diapering his cute little bum for 17 months! My husband was skeptical and my friends thought I was nuts but now my husband tries to convert other people (and he does all the laundry!) and my friends have accepted that maybe I'm not completely crazy. Anyway, you were totally the reason that I gave it a try so thank you so much!

Emily

Yes, yes, yes to gDiapers running small! We did gDiapers from the beginning and our first son outgrew the covers long before he should have, based on the gDiapers sizing (and our second son is quickly doing the same-- at nine weeks old, he's in the medium size already!). Glad to know we're not the only ones with that experience!

Katie

hmm, I'm a knitter but don't currently make wool soakers. Maybe I should start!

Rebekah

I love your CDing posts!!! I started using cloth on evenings and weekends for my now 2 year old foster son, just 4 months ago. I am not yet brave enough to send them to school with his desitin-happy teacher. I agree with you that prefolds and flip covers are such an EASY and affordable way to use cloth. I don't snappi, I just trifold. If a prefold gets stained, I don't fret because they are not expensive to replace. I prefer prefolds and covers over a pocket diaper any day. Especially, when you have a poopy and have to dig out the insert...ewww!!!

I also love a hemp "bigger weeds" for nightime use!

Now can you please give some advice about how to get the hubby to deal with poopy cloth other than alerting me to a dirty diaper in the bathroom? ;)

Sirena

Oh god, there must be something wrong with me. I read that post to the end and I am disposable diapers all the way (almost 10 months in on baby #1). I guess I remain so interested in and intrigued by cloth diapers, their dramatically lower footprint, cost, etc... Ah well. I can't get over the messy part :-) BUT I apparently will read a long post about it- you made it super interesting Amy! Need I ask, but if you had it to do over again, would you cloth diaper all the way? There seem to be a ton of accessories etc - I wonder what the cost difference is, overall? The wastefulness of disposables bums me out :-( all the time. Maybe one of my sisters will cloth diaper - i'll save this post for them.

Jelourai

Just wanted to add my thanks for all the cloth diapering posts. My son is about 3 months younger than Ike and because of your encouragement I've been cloth diapering since we got home from the hospital. I just picked up some Blueberry pockets in ADORABLE patterns because I figured that if dropping $200 on new diapers caused him to spontaneously potty train, it would be worth it and I can always resell :-) Also - Baby Ike 4-ever!

Jenn C

My holy grail diaper ended up being sort of similar to yours--our favorite system turned out to be Flip covers with the gDiaper flushables. I was a devoted pockets user with kid #1, but with the 2nd, I have fallen in love with Flips.

Kathleen

I think I'm stalking your diaper stash. We did bum geniuses for baby 1 and were excited to pull them out for baby 2... Except they kinda stank, the elastic was going, etc etc. so we switched to GMD entirely on your recommendation and are still loving them.

FWIW, we're doing ok with thirsties covers, although we've also got some stretchy cheaper ones that my husband (lead diaperer) prefers. Also: our gpants didn't survive to kid 2 because the ribbon that holds the liner snaps dies so easily. Totally agree that the gpant look is adorable, though!!!

Kathleen

Also: thanks for solving so many of my questions from afar over my last five years of diapering!!

Dawn

Do we bid here?

Goodness. They are lovely things. Thank you for sharing the mass information. You rock.

Cara

Thank you for all of your cloth diapering posts! Seriously. I have followed your blog since baby Ezra days and I made up my mind long ago based off of your blog that I'd cloth diaper. I am now due in 2.5 weeks with my first son. I've got a wonderful stack of cloth diapers and all sorts of options at home and I'm thrilled to give them a try. Not in the least nervous about them. I can't tell you how many times I've referenced what you've written here and in your advice column. Let the cloth diapering challenge begin!

Stephanie

So...what are your plans for the stash once you are totally finished? I'm trailing a little behind you since my third is only a couple weeks old, but I'm already trying to figure out what to do with extra inserts and is there any way to recycle covers and maybe I'm just too emotionally attached, but do I really have to just through them all away at the end? :-/ Also I really wish I'd tried GMD prefolds with my first. REALLY wish. Oh well! One more also--how the heck do you keep the elastic springy in your workhorse diapers?! Mine are completely stretched out.

Call Me Jo

You are the reason I decided to try cloth, and we LOVE it. You also convinced me to try prefolds, and my husband especially loves them. We deviated a bit from your cloth diaper bible; after some research, we decided to invest in Rumparoos and Ecoposh - they are AMA-ZING and our childcare people love them too! The one down side is the rise is probably not big enough to get us through toddlerhood. Just bought some 4.0s. Glad to hear you thought they were a good investment.

-k-

Re: GMD Workhorse Fitteds: these really, really retain value well. Anybody worried about the upfront costs should just go for it and then get into the Facebook group "GMD Mamas B/S/T"- I have been able to resell fitteds for around 90% of the original value as we size up (depends a bit on what shape they're in).

Lynn

I will never, never, never tire of reading about cloth diapers. My obsession has no bounds. A note: I loathed gDiapers. They always left ugly red marks on her waist. LOVE GMD. Also, the first cloth diapers I bought were Charlie Banana, a spur-of-the-moment decision at Target, which I at first hated (Daughter was four months old and too small), but now oddly love.

lisa

I wonder if I could knit a soaker? Hum....

Shelbey

I will join in the chorus that you are one of the main reasons I thought we could do cloth diapers. And we are now almost 7 months in, and I love it! It is real easy to get obsessive. I just recently got a Flip cover, and am just so mad that I ever wasted money on the Thristies. Anyway, thanks again! What fun era!

Katie

Yeah...I'm another one who probably doesn't want to think about how much I've spent on cloth vs. if we'd just done costco cases of disposables. But...if you're just starting out, I maintain you could probably spend $120 on 24 GMD medium prefolds, 5 or 6 covers...and really cover about 75% of your diapering needs (disposables birth to 4/5 months ish and always at night). Not 100%, but not a huge investment, and so easy to wash. And mine still work fantastic after two babies. Says the owner of easily $700-$800 of diapering gear :) Anyways, GMD prefolds FTW!

menderz

All I can think of when I see those wool soakers is AAAARRRGGGGHHH!!! ITCHY, RASHY PRIVATE PARTS! (I'm one of those unfortunates with a wool allergy). Also, I have no children, don't plan on having any children, and still read all of these cloth diapering posts. I guess I'm a giant weirdo?

Trasherati

The fact that you are nonchalant about red wine spilled onto your baby's diaper tickles the crap out of me. Not only could I babysit for you, it confirms that I'm not the only one sometimes juggling a glass while actively parenting.

Zinnalea

So, my question is....what to do with those old diapers. I could sell them on craigslist but are there other options?

VT Meg

Ah, the end of an era. I'm eking out my last set of Thirsties covers (we have actually gotten most of ours through 2 kids, although some are not as waterproof should be any more (yikes!) So great to know about wool soakers as training pants as my little almost-potty-user loves to roam the house, which is still dangerous with no pants on!

I too love the gdiapers as liners but neither of my girls can wear the covers -- they are peanuts, but the rise is just too small somehow and they get rubbed something terrible around the closure. Too bad because it's a great idea. I so wanted to love it, and we compost the liners at home (or in the dump compost bin now that everything is frozen).

Thanks for all your words on the subject! So glad you've converted so many or even just made them feel weird for reading all the posts with interest!!

Rhi

I'm a gDiapers user and DAMN I love those things. Though, I'm not sure how my 30-pound two-year-old will make it until potty training in his gPants.

Rhi

(I would totally buy the gDiapers from you, if you're willing to ship.)

K

*wistful*

I wanted to cloth diaper (to save money, primarily), but when our boy was little we could never afford the initial outlay of cash. Plus we would've had to pay too much to wash in our stupid apartment laundry room. It just never worked out.

But when I was still dreaming the dream, I thought I'd go with Flip. I was sure that would be the one. I'm kind of proud to be validated in coming to that conclusion, even though we never got to try it out.

meeshie

I am trying to convince the husband that cloth rocks but so far, no dice.

I have, however, managed to get him on the babywearing band wagon.

I remember that you did baby wearing at one point. Ever think of doing a piece on it, too? ;)

Ace

I started reading your cloth posts, too, and used them as a jump off point. I've spent lots on cloth too, mostly pockets, but it turns out my favorites are the ones on your a-list. I was very skeptical about trifoldibg prefolds in a cover, but it works so well.

autumn

I'm just glad to know that I'm not the only one looking at a 2.5 year old supply of diapers thinking these won't last for another kiddo. We used Grovias, which were awesome for us and day care liked them (big part of choosing these vs pre folds) but I guess when I started down this road I thought I could use my covers on all future kids. Guess washing something every other day for 2 years might do a bit on the pee-proofing. . . Thanks for making cloth diapering plausible for the masses. And here's to underwear! May we be joining you soon!

Elisabeth

Just found your blog via a post you did on bedtime routines for three. I have three boys, 4.5, newly 2, and 5 months. I'm insane.

But about diapers (or nappies as we call them in New Zealand): I bought the Thirsties, dang. And have switched back to disp's while I figure out how to salvage this cloth dilemma!

I have heaps of prefolds, but I think my problem is that they're all BIG and so super uncomfortable. Plus cause rash by themselves (have no fleece liners).

Q: What size gDiapers inserts could save my day? Small ones needed for big baby? Or just go with bigger ones? And maybe I should sell off the massive prefolds and buy some medium and smaller ones?

Thanks a TON for any advice!

Olivia

I love your cloth diaper posts but I'm so glad I didn't read them before my first kid was over 2. I would have been overwhelmed with all the different systems. As it is, I received 2 dozen size small fuzzi bunz when I was pregnant and they worked fine so I bought some mediums when she outgrew the smalls and that was it. My kids are small so the mediums work until potty training. The smalls served 4 babies and still have wear left in them. If you don't like the mess of older baby poop I recommend buying flushable liners. Bummis are soft and strong, and only $8 for 100.

Karen

We only did cloth for about 10 months but I too was sold on Flips! They are so easy and you just wipe down the cover and move on. Loved them! I never did get the husband on board and so, when we hit the heavy pee period...I was easily persuaded. I wish I had stayed with it but my little one did potty train at 2 so we are good now.

jenG

Thank you for the reminder--we need to order the next size up, which is LARGE, which is for TODDLERS, and I have a freaking 9-month-old. He is huge and mobile and I've been in denial about ordering the next round.

I'm so grateful for your exhaustive cloth diaper posts. Not only are they informative, but they also make me feel less obsessed. ;)

Stephanie Sheehan

You own all of those diapers?!? Did you buy them offline or find them in stores?

Jen

Thanks for this post. You have instrumental in my cloth diapering experience. PS-I want to buy your flip covers. Especially Albert. Serious. :)

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