04 February 2013

Cloth Diapering: Our Experience & Product Reviews

Cloth diapering is a confusing world, so I'm sharing what I've learned over the last six months in hopes of helping others who are considering cloth diapering. Be sure to check out the basics, what you need to know to get started and maintain cloth diapers, the Gilbertson Family's experience, and traveling with cloth diapers. Today, I'm sharing our experience with cloth diapers and my review of a few products we've used...and learning that I don't have many photos of Madeleine's fluffy bum since the weather turned cold.

Our Experience
Sometime in my pregnancy with Madeleine, George and I became curious about cloth diapers. We were both raised on cloth diapers and had seen many of our friends use them but really didn't know where to begin ourselves. So, we attended an introductory class about cloth diapers; we walked away totally baffled by the options and wondering if the class leader was right when she said it was really as simple as a few extra loads of laundry a week (she was!). Eventually, we decided that we would buy cloth diapers for the first size and allow ourselves to back out at the end of the first size or if it got too hard.

I don't remember the exact thought process, but we ended up investing in several Thirsties Duo covers and a dozen prefolds. When I saw different diapers come across BabySteals or in good shape at a secondhand shop, I'd buy one to give it a try. I was also given two Lil Joey newborn diapers by a friend of a friend. So, when Madeleine was born, we had a stash of mostly prefolds and covers with a few random diapers.

For the first couple days of Madeleine's life, we used newborn disposable diapers. This made it easy to dispose of the nasty tar poo but made us realize this: disposable diapers are expensive, pile up quickly, and are a hassle to constantly buy. As soon as the meconium was gone, we added the Lil Joey diapers into the rotation (because they fold down in the front, they protected the umbilical stump just like disposable newborn diapers). Guess what - we (especially George) loved them!

First Cloth Diaper: 3 Days Old


But...Madeleine was less than 8 pounds (the starting size for most cloth diapers) for the first several weeks of her life. Even after she was 8 pounds, the prefolds and covers were ridiculously big on her. They may have functioned fine, but she looked so uncomfortable with diaper all the way to her knees! So, we stayed with disposable diapers (and Lil Joeys as long as they fit) for a few more weeks.

Then, when Madeleine was six or seven weeks old, we visited a friend in Ohio whose daughter is a week younger than Madeleine and very similar in build. She told me how much she liked the Thirsties Duo All in One, and I saw that it fit Miss A nicely, even at her petite size. We came home, ordered a few Thirsties Duo All in Ones, and started cloth diapering full time. Remember our weekly photo to commemorate it?

As Madeleine got a bit older and a bit bigger, we added the covers and prefolds into the rotation as well as the random diapers I'd found on sale or secondhand. Using the covers and prefolds was always a bit of a chore because the all in ones were easier and provided a better fit. And through the collection of random diapers, I found our favorites: itti bitti d'lish. More on them below. I've recently taken the prefolds and covers out of the nursery because we weren't using them at all. And, because the itti bitti d'lishes and Thirsties are all sized, we're just a few pounds away from needing to replace most of our stash. I'm excited for more of our favorites and a few new brands. Any recommendations?


Are there times when we don't use cloth diapers? Yes. We put Madeleine in a disposable (our favorites) after her bath each night. If she gets a bad diaper rash, we pull out the Triple Paste (not safe for cloth diapers) and go to disposables for a day or three. When we travel and do not have access to washing facilities, we use disposables. We also keep a few disposables in the diaper bag for emergencies. Otherwise, I find using cloth diapers at home (with the system I described) and on the go (using a wetbag and otherwise adding them to the at-home system when we get home) is pretty easy.

A Few Product Reviews
Plant Wise Pail Liner: I use these in the pail and to carry the diapers to the laundry Santa style. These have held up to my use and a million washes and dries. My only problem was that the red one bled the first time that I washed it. Boo for pink diapers.

Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover: These are great as covers go. They have gussets around the leg, which are great for wee legs. The snap and hook and loop closures both held up to the little use we gave them.

Lil Joey by Rumparooz: These are a great introduction to cloth diapering. They're perfect for newborns because they can be snapped down in the front to protect the umbilical cord stump and are well designed to fit small frames. Unfortunately, they take a while to dry, too.

Thirsties Duo All In One: These are really easy all in ones to use. Their absorbancy is borderline for a heavy wetter. I wonder if the sizing snaps on the front are useful for anyone else because they were not for us. They are somewhat trim fitting and typically take two rounds of drying.

Charlie Banana One Size Pocket Diaper: This is one of the randoms that I acquired on sale. I love how stretchy it is, and I can imagine that it will fit Madeleine for a long time. We're at the point where it needs an extra booster to be absorbant. George doesn't like the pocket part of it because he can't get the insert stuffed into the narrow opening, but I think we can make it work as long as my smaller hands do the stuffing.

itti bitti d'lish all in one: I love the plush exterior of the diaper and the ease of its all in one form. It is extremely trim fitting (though not quite as much as the snap in one version). Because it's so absorbant, its drying time it toward the longer end.

itti bitti d'lish snap in one: This is our favorite diaper. The outer is plush and waterproof. The absorbancy can be customized by the layering of inserts. Even though it's sized, the inserts can be used in the larger sized diapers. Outers can be reused unless they're soiled or soaked, which limits the wear and tear on the outers (ours are still as nice as the day they arrived). Because they're in separate pieces, they dry quickly.

A Pep Talk
There are many ways to go about cloth diapering, and it doesn't have to be a complicated process. If you're curious about cloth diapering, I encourage you to buy a couple diapers and give it a try. Maybe you'll hate it and find yourself content in using disposables. Or, maybe you'll find that you love cloth diapering.

Come back soon to hear about how we use cloth diapers while traveling. In the mean time, feel free to leave questions, comments, or recommendations for new brands to try. Oh, and it must be cloth diapering season in our corner of the world because Emily at Daily Garnish just gave an update on her cloth diaparing experience. Check it out for yet another perspective.

The rest of the cloth diapering series:
   The Basics
   Getting Started & Daily Care
   Kendra, Greg, & Kenley's Experience
   Traveling with Cloth Diapers

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