01 February 2013

Cloth Diapering: Kendra, Greg, & Kenley's Experience

Welcome to the third post in this series discussing cloth diapers! 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, our experience with cloth diapers, and traveling with cloth diapers.

For today's post, I asked Kendra, who blogs at The Gilbertson Family, to stop by and share her cloth diapering experience and wisdom. Welcome!

Hello! I'm Kendra...wife to Greg, and mama to Kenley. We are The Gilbertson Family. I am so excited to be a guest here today with Amanda to share our experiences with cloth diapers. I remember being pregnant and reading and reading about other moms' experiences, likes, and dislikes. Quite frankly, I love cloth diapering, so I will talk about it to anyone who will listen!

The main reason we decided to go the cloth diaper route was because the idea of throwing our money away (literally) by using disposable diapers really did not sound appealing to us. When I presented the idea [of using cloth diapers] to Greg, he was skeptical but willing to listen. Once he looked at the numbers, he was sold. Of course, we knew at the time there were so many other benefits and we have come to learn even more since we started using them, but we love not having to buy disposable diapers each month.

We made this decision fairly early in our pregnancy, which allowed us to keep our eyes peeled for good deals and put some of the cloth diaper essentials on our registry (score). One argument against cloth diapers is the upfront cost, so starting early helped. Fear not though, I am fully convinced that you can start cloth diapering at any point, even if your baby or babies are already here. It's never too late, in my opinion. So what are these "essentials" I speak of? Well, to begin...the diapers. Our stash consists of mainly BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers, 23 to be exact. We also have 1 Blueberry, 2 GroVia All In One, 1 Bumkins All In One, and 1 BumCheeks Minky. All of our diapers are one size diapers, meaning they will grow with the baby, so you can use the same diapers throughout the diapering process and then use them again for future babies.

I tend to like the pocket diapers best for a couple reasons. First, you can create the perfect diaper depending on the number of inserts you want to use. We typically use a regular insert, a doubler (a thinner insert), and the cover to make one diaper. At night, we use the bamboo inserts with the Blueberry diaper cover to make it extra thick, since she's wearing them through the night. Second, the All In One diapers take longer to dry since there is more cloth attached to the diaper. The downside to the pocket diapers is the assembly (I like to call it stuffing). After each wash, we stuff the inserts into the covers to ensure the diapers are ready to use when we need them. You don't have to do this with the All In Ones; once they are dry, it's time to use them!

Pocket Diaper
All In One
As for the closures, we have mostly hook and loop. I wish we had a better mix between the hook and loop and the snaps. I have had the same experiences as Amanda with the different types of closures. In the early days with a squirmy baby, the hook and loop closures were the easiest to get on quickly. They do tend to wear out quicker in the wash than the snap closure. The snap closures are a little bit more difficult to get on, but they are not easy for a curious toddler to pull off. We got into the habit of sending the hook and loop diapers to daycare since they were easier, and we tend to use the snaps at home more. By the time we will need to use our stash of diapers again for another baby, I would like to convert the worn out hook and loop closures to snaps. There is a handy tool that will assist in this process.

As you can see, our stash is not very diverse, which is something I regret. Don't get me wrong, the BumGenius diapers are our favorite, and luckily they fit Kenley well. But, I think it's fun to try new brands and styles. The problem with that is that I don't NEED any more diapers; I just like them! I would recommend getting just enough to get you started; then you will know what you like and dislike when you want to add to your stash.

I will share the other essentials that we like and then give you a rundown on how the process works in the Gilbertson household. We could not live without our BumGenius Diaper Sprayer. I'm not being dramatic either. Believe me, we tried...for about 2 weeks. The button on our sprayer broke, but thanks to the manufacturer's amazing customer service, they sent us two new parts and instructions to fix it in the same day. The problem was that we were in the process of moving and having our mail forwarded. So, we waited and waited and waited...until I finally asked them to send the parts again. They graciously did and our sprayer is working way better than before, but the time in the between was not fun. The sprayer makes cleaning off the diapers so easy, so the nasty stuff doesn't even come close to getting into your washing machine. Some people choose to wait until their baby is starting solids to get the diaper sprayer, but we used it from day one, even when she was exclusively on breast milk.

We are very fond of the Planet Wise wet bags and Planet Wise pail liners. We have two of each. The pail liners go into the diaper pail to store the dirty diapers until it is time to wash. Our pail is just a trash can with a lid, purchased from Target, I'm sure. Our pail sits right by the toilet that our diaper sprayer is attached to. It is actually inside the bath tub, behind the shower curtain, out of sight since we don't use that shower right now. The wet bags are used at school and on the go. They store the dirty diapers when we are out and about and during the day until it's time to spray them off and toss them in the pail. In the beginning, we would only spray the dirty diapers and not the wet diapers, but since then, we had a rather horrible ammonia-smelling issue and found it helps to spray the wet ones too.

We wash our diapers every other day, usually in the evenings after work or bedtime. The cloth diaper detergent we like best is the Rockin' Green, but we also have a big container of this homemade concoction that works well too. A typical cycle in our front load high efficiency washing machine is one cold rinse/spin cycle, then normal wash on hot with the prewash and extra rinse option, then at least one, but sometimes two more, cold rinse/spin cycles. That may seem like a lot, but it honestly doesn't take that long. We are questioned a lot about our water bill after we started using cloth diapers. I would say it went up around $10 per month, but I am not convinced that is solely due to the cloth diaper laundry. I found myself doing loads and loads more laundry just by having a newborn baby in the house. After a wash cycle, the diaper covers get line dried and the inserts go into the dryer. I usually throw the All In One diapers into the dryer as well, only because they are the snap closures and I don't have to worry about the hook and loop closures wearing faster because of the dryer. Once the covers are dry, the stuffing begins.

Here are a couple random tidbits. At home, we use cloth wipes, which are really just cheap baby washcloths, and a spray bottle of water. We like these for a couple of reasons: they are cost effective and green. When you take the diaper off, it's habit to set the diaper and wipes aside together. When we did use disposable wipes, there were several times that the wipe ended up in the wash, which is super annoying. On the go, we definitely use disposable wipes because it's easy. If you're using cloth diapers, you have to be mindful of cloth diaper friendly diaper cream. Regular diaper cream repels liquid and when it gets on the diaper, the diaper will also repel liquid...not good. Our favorite cream is California Baby; however, I recently learned that coconut oil is cloth diaper friendly, and I really want to jump on this coconut oil bandwagon, so I will definitely be researching that for future use. We've found that the cloth diaper friendly creams are more mild than the regular diaper creams and sometimes they just don't cut it. If Kenley has a bad diaper rash, we'll switch over to disposable and use something stronger to get it cleared up. On that note, we usually have disposable diapers on hand at home for emergencies.

Overall, we have had a great experience using cloth diapers (if you haven't realized that already). Cloth diapers are economical, environmentally friendly, and adorable. The process may sound like a lot of work, but we quickly got the hang of it and do not even think twice about it anymore. I'd love to answer any questions you may have, and, if you have any suggestions on other brands I should try, I will add them to my wish list!

Thanks, Kendra! 

The rest of the cloth diapering series:
   The Basics
   Getting Started & Daily Care
   Our Experience & Product Reviews
   Traveling with Cloth Diapers

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