Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Scoop on Poop

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So your considering cloth diapering and you don't know where to start? 
You've come to the right place! 
We've been cloth diapering for over a year now and we have tried many different types of cloth diapers and boiled it down to a science here in the Goodwin household.
So here is my opinion and recommendations based on my experiences and those of my close friends. 

Three Most Common Reasons for Cloth Diapering 
To Save Money - statistics are all over the internet stating that the average household spends approximately $2000 a year on disposable diapers and disposable diapering supplies per child. You can purchase your entire cloth diapering supply list for between $200 and $500.
Eco-Consciousness - disposable diapers take approximately 500 years to decompose, meaning that if Christopher Columbus wore disposables they would still be in the Earth today. Not to mention they are packed full of harmful chemicals that will be resting against your beautiful baby's skin 24 hours a day.
Comfort/Skin Issues - cloth diapers seem to be much more comfortable than disposables (who wants to wear plastic underwear?) and I have spoken with many moms who talk about the wonders of disappearing rashes etc. once switching to cloth. 

Types of Cloth Diapers - Break it Down for Me!
Flats - the original cloth diaper (like Grandma used to use). Must be folded and pinned. Most time consuming, but most inexpensive and quickest dry time. Green Mountain Diapers has a great tutorial on flats, folding and what they look like on baby.
Pre-Folds - One of the most popular choices and my personal preference. Similar to flats, but with multiple layers throughout and double those multiple layers sewn in the center (i.e. these are like getting the Flat without having to fold it - hence the name Pre-fold). There are two main ways to use them, either pinning them around your baby (similar to a Flat) and covering with a waterproof cover or simply tri-folding them and inserting them into the bottom of a waterproof cover. I started out pinning them (using a Snappi) but now I simply tri-fold, it is much easier/faster and keeps the moisture down below. I've personally found that these are the most absorbent and where I've had leak issues with other types of cloth diapers, I've never had a single leak with these. Furthermore, they are one of the most cost-effective and inexpensive options on the market. 
These pictures from Green Mountain Diapers show some unfolded pre-folds followed by both of the pre-fold folding options. I've used both and prefer the first, which is the tri-fold in cover option (eezy peezy), the second option shown is folded around baby using a Snappi closure and covered. The baby shown with the blue cover is the end result of what both options will look like completed.
All (3) Photos-
Fitteds - Another very popular option. These are very similar to disposables in how they are put on, they are very absorbent and tend to not leak because of their "fitted" nature (with elastic around the legs etc). They still need to be covered with a water-proof cover and multiple sizes must be purchased as baby grows. A more pricey option but great on absorbancy and quality. First image shows three sizes of fitted diapers, second image shows a waterproof diaper cover which would need to be used over the top of the fitteds.
Photo- Bummis
 Pocket Diapers - One of the most popular options. A diaper cover with a pocket where you stuff absorbent liners. This is very similar to disposable, they look like disposables and are put on like disposables. These tend to be the only cloth diaper accepted by day-care facilities. This category includes the famous One-Size Diaper - the cloth diaper that fits from birth to potty-training, best overall value if properly cared for, adjustable in size and absorbancy. This option can get pricey, but offers the most ease of use and are the easiest to understand for non-cloth diaper users (i.e. babysitters, grandparents etc.). Almost all of my friends who cloth diaper use pocket diapers.  


Choosing The Right Diaper For You

 I'm going to be honest here, I think there are really only two choices when it comes to cloth diapering: Pre-Folds and Pocket Diapers. This is my personal opinion, there are many people out there who swear by Fitteds and every one of our Grandmother's would say "why aren't you using Flats?", but in my eyes - Flats are outdated and too complicated, they are the dinosaur of cloth diapering and Fitteds are cumbersome and excessive, not to mention expensive.  I'm sure there are many people out there who would argue with that, but well, this is my opinion and you really don't have to agree with me.

So your decision is really based on three defining factors:
A. Investment 
B. Absorbancy
C. Ease of Use

If you are looking for the least expensive and most absorbent option then hands down Pre-Folds are the way to go. If you can handle a bit more of an investment and are looking for the easiest to use, simplest way to go or just the closest to a disposable (in terms of use and application) then Pocket Diapers are your choice.

I've used both, I absolutely LOVED my pocket diapers. Unfortunately my daughter is a heavy wetter and when I say heavy wetter, I mean, SUPER SOAKER. So every single one of them leaked around the legs. Such a bummer. I could have circumvented this by investing in expensive HEMP liners (super absorbent!) but instead choose to go back to my old faithful, the workhorse of cloth diapers, the pre-fold. 

I will say that when you invest in a diaper brand (and an investment they are, since if cared for properly they will most likely last you through all of your children), make sure they are made by a reputable company that stands behind their diaper with at least a good 1-year warranty on craftsmanship. If they aren't going to guarantee the craftsmanship of their diaper for at least a year then they don't believe in it and obviously you shouldn't either. 

Stores I Recommend
If you have a local cloth diaper retailer, start there. I always recommend keeping your money local if possible and supporting private establishments, especially mom & pop baby stores because that is a tough industry to survive in. 

Other than that, if I have to shop online, I buy all of my cloth diapering supplies from these three retailers:
Kelly's Closet has a loyalty program and is always offering a free one-size diaper (their choice) with your purchase of a certain amount (usually ranges from spending $45-$65). I like anything free and I like that I get to try diaper brands I normally wouldn't try. Excellent customer service.
The makers of BumGenius, Econobum and Flip. I currently use Econobum Pre-Folds and LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I do still buy them from Kelly's Closet, but many of my friends use BumGenius and purchase straight from Cottonbabies because they also have excellent customer service and well, they're the source. 

I love Green Mountain Diapers, they are a wonderful mom & pop stop on the internet. They provide everything you will ever need for cloth diapering, plus a wealth of knowledge. They also have excellent customer service, are the sole retailer of the well-known and very popular Cloth-Eez pre-fold diaper and are known for walking you through anything one-on-one over the phone. An excellent, friendly retailer with a wonderful ethic.

Okay, So I've Picked My Diaper. Now What Do I Need???

There are a certain number of things that you will need to successfully cloth diaper or that you don't necessarily need, but that will make life much easier. There are also certain brands that I would recommend over others and certain limitations you must recognize (such as specificity in diaper creams, detergent etc.) due to the sensitive nature of preserving your cloth diapers. This list covers ALL of those items. 

Cloth Wipes - a necessity. I by far prefer Cloth-Eez Two-Sided Wipes by Green Mountain Diapers. They are superb. The terry side is excellent for taking care of a mess and the soft flannel on the other finishes the job up. Perfection in a cloth wipe, not to mention excellent price. Click here for my post on how to prepare pre-made cloth wipes.
Cloth Wipes Warmer - a luxury. However, I prefer making all of my wipes ahead and having them ready in this nice little plastic warmer box. You could obviously just have a plastic container you keep pre-made wipes in, but when Sofia was little there was a big difference between warm wipes and cold wipes. Now, not so much, but when she was an infant, I swore by this thing. 
Diaper Pail -  a necessity. I highly recommend getting a plastic or metal trash can with a foot pedal because your hands will be FULL, trust me! I found the best deals were on Amazon. Target is super overpriced and you don't need a large one, something small-medium size will do. 
Diaper Pail Liner - a necessity. You will need two. This goes inside of the diaper pail and once it is full it gets thrown in the wash WITH your diapers. Therefore, you need another one to put in the pail while your first load is washing. I highly recommend Kissaluv's Antibacterial Pail Liner, I've had mine for over a year and it is in perfect condition. I have other brands as well which have stretched out and begun to leak. Kissaluvs ALL THE WAY. 
Wet Bag - a diaper bag necessity. This is where you put your dirty, wet diapers when you are out and about. I love love love this Planet Wise wet & dry bag! Large, excellent quality and even has a compartment for your diaper cream, diapers, wipes, what have you. Perfection. It comes in a ton of fun fabrics.
Toilet Sprayer - a necessity verging on a luxury. Okay, so if you are breastfeeding you won't need this. If you are formula feeding or beginning to introduce solids, you will need something. If you can't bring yourself to spray the diaper out in the kitchen sink (kinda gross is right) or swish the diaper in the toilet, then buy one of these. They work very well and they limit your hand to poop contact. Once your baby is full solids and their poops have become pretty hard, you won't need this anymore (unless they get sick etc.). I never purchased one and got by just fine, but I did spray my diapers out in the kitchen sink for a while followed by a full on sink disinfection which is a lot of additional work, not to mention not even possible if you don't have both a sink sprayer AND a garbage disposal. So consider the option and make the right choice for your specific needs. 

Detergent - a necessity and a VERY VERY VERY important part of cloth diapering. NO you cannot just use any detergent. YES you must use a cloth diapering safe detergent. Why? Well, normal detergents are packed full of chemicals, scents and fillers that coat anything they touch. With cloth diapers this is bad because they cause a build-up over time and then they begin repelling fluid which causes them to leak and then you are forced to strip them, which is a long process. So save your time and money and use a cloth diapering safe detergent. 
I've used both Rockin Green and Charlie's Soap. I was happy with both. I have stuck with Charlie's Soap because it works very well and I feel like you get more for your money. I often find great bargains on Amazon and recently discovered a local retailer so I am very excited for that! 
I have friends who use BumGenius brand detergent and Planet, which have great reviews as well. My personal preference is still Charlie's Soap and I won't be changing anytime soon. 

Diaper Cream - a necessity for some babies, unnecessary for others. As we know, all babies are different. Some babies need diaper cream no matter what, with every changing, even in cloth diapers. That is my daughter. She has UBER-sensitive skin. You have to be VERY VERY careful with diaper creams. You cannot use any cream because the whole point of diaper cream is to repel water and if the cream is not cloth diaper safe then it will cause your diaper to repel fluid and now you have a leaking diaper. There are many on the market that are safe, but let me keep this easy for you. California Baby Diaper Rash Cream --- Target and MANY other major retailers. Sweet. If you really need to use something else, prescribed or otherwise, then put 'lil babe in disposables while using it OR cut up a receiving blanket into strips to act as a barrier between babe and the diaper... but DO NOT wash with your diapers or you will have defeated the purpose. 

How Do I Wash Them? 
It is soooo easy! I promise. 

Take diaper pail liner bag full of dirty diapers and empty into your washer, then throw in the pail liner too! 
Put machine on a COLD rinse with NO detergent. 
After rinse is complete, put machine on a hot (it is very important that your hot water is not scalding or it will ruin anything with waterproof coating, if your water heater is turned up full blast and you like it like that then wash on warm not hot) WITH recommended amount of detergent (do NOT use extra detergent). 
After wash cycle is complete, put machine on a hot (or warm) rinse with NO detergent - this final rinse is very important to make sure all of the detergent is off so do not skip it. 
Toss diapers in the dryer and dry or hang them to dry in the sun. 

WAIT, my diapers are stained! What do I do to get the stains out???
I'm not joking, put them out in the sun to dry and your stains will be gone in no time. Make sure the stained side is facing the sun. 

Gosh, my diapers smell like a fish tank! Or jeez, they smell like Ammonia! What do I do? 
 This happens, don't get scared. I prefer Bac-Out by Biokleen. It's a great product just to have around the house. One soak and wash with that and they'll be as good as new. Plus its eco-friendly! 

Wash your diapers every 1-2 days. Do not let them sit for longer than 2 days. That's just stinky. 

Okay, Okay, But What Do I Do With the Poop? 

If it's breast milk ONLY poop, then you don't do anything. There is no bacteria and you can throw them straight into the washer with the breast milk poop on it and the rinse cycle will wash it away. Wash as instructed. 

If it's formula poop, breast milk & solids poop or just plain solids poop, then you need to plop in in the toilet or spray off the diaper before you put it into the diaper pail. All of the diapers in the diaper pail should be poop-free and ready to throw in the washer. 

It really is super easy. It might not seem like it at first glance, but it is. I 100% prefer it over disposables. No muss no fuss. 

 Well this is one heck of a post. There is still so much more that could be talked about, but hopefully this will give you a good footing to get started. I will keep posting tid-bits here and there about cloth diapering so keep checking back! If you have any questions let me know and I will answer them as soon as possible! Happy diapering! 

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