Monday, February 23, 2009

Cloth Diapers (Part 6)--Basic Info

As I have said before--
Anyone can cloth diaper, no matter the budget. Over the course of a child's diapering years, a parent would spend between $2100 and $3500 on disposables. Of course this is one or two packages at a time, so it may not feel that bad. Mothers cringe like clockwork (sticker shock) when they first look at cloth diaper prices. Remember the price reflects that you are buying an entire size all at once. If you were to buy an entire size-set of disposables, you would no doubt cringe even more.
I beg you to not shrink away or feel overwhelmed. Stick with me, and you'll see how affordable and easy we can make it. Think of cloth diapering as an investment, both in your pocket book and baby's health--and remember that over the course of your diapering years, you are saving MUCH MORE money than you are spending. I promise.
That being said, I want to go through the different products to make cloth diapering work for you. Prices given are estimates and are often lower if diapers are purchased in a package deal.
Tomorrow I will post some brand recommendations, tips on deciding which diaper types to go with for your lifestyle and a few more goodies: )
Here are the different types of diapers and accessories
Flats (shown folded over above) are a square or rectangular piece of material with the same absorbency across the whole diaper. Most are a single layer, some are double. Different fold patterns allow custom fitting for your baby. Flats wash easy and dry fast (great for a year supply or emergency kits--hand washing and hang drying). Flats can be fastened with a snappi. Flats are very trim but have to be changed often and need a diaper cover for waterproofing. Cost runs $15-$17/dozen.

Prefolds (my personal favorite), are also a rectangular piece of material but have a center strip of extra absorbency. You may see 4-8-4 or 2-6-2 indicators by different prefolds. This refers to the layers in each “section”. On each of the outer sides would be 4 layers and in the middle would be 8, for example. Prefolds can be fastened with pins, snappi or trifolded and laid in a cover. They also are easy to wash and dry. Cost is very low. New, high quality prefolds can be purchased for around $1.50-$2.00 each. Prefolds have a bit more bulk than flatfolds but are very little work and don't require a lot of folding due to the built in layers. Again, for waterproofing-prefolds can be combined with a cover if desired.
Chinese vs. Indian Prefolds
Kiersten asked "What are the differences between Chinese and Indian Prefolds?" The answer is that Chinese prefolds are the more durable of the two types, yet slightly less soft. Indian prefolds are softer, but a bit more fragile.I bought Chinese prefolds because I plan to use them for future babies and wanted the durability to last. I have used them for 9 months and they look just as they did when I bought them. I think they are pretty soft (softer than disposables in my opinion), so I didn't have any problem picking. Some mothers swear by the softness of the Indian prefolds. It's just about preference. If you are not sure if you care about this detail, you might try buying one of each and testing them out. Great Question Kiersten! Keep 'em coming: )
Snappis cost $3. I like having 3 in my stash. One for the changing area, diper bag, and an extra in case I lose one.
They work like the metal fasteners on ACE bandages (little teeth grip the cloth).

A cover such as this Bummis Super Whisper Wrap makes diapering with flats, prefolds and fitteds, stylish and modern. Prices range from $8-$13 for covers like above-- $16-$20 for fleece, and up to $50 for designer wool.
Fitteds are a cloth diaper that also requires a cover for waterproofing, but are otherwise used just like a disposable. Sizes xs, s, med, and large make them much less bulky than other cloth diapers. They also contain messes well due to elastic at the leg and sometimes along the back . Fitteds come in every material imaginable and can be fastened with snaps or aplix (velcro). The design allows for letting your little one go coverless and changing often. One downside is that fitteds take longer to dry. Prices usually range from $12.95 for fitteds as shown to $17.
All In Ones (AIO) are the cloth diaper most similar to a disposable. Everything you need is there in the diaper- no stuffing, no cover required. All In Ones look very different across different brands. Some have the soaker sewn in, others have it partially attached outside the diaper to allow for quick-drying (you will see this referred to as QD). All In Ones can be very trim but others are quite bulky. AIO are easy to use for anyone (daycares, babysitters, dads!) but do have some washing drawbacks. They take longer to dry and can trap detergent and urine smells inside the soaker if not rinsed very well. Prices range from $14-$25.
Pockets are a simple 2 layer diaper. The outer layer is waterproof and the inner is a soft material for next to baby. A pocket is left at the top of the diaper for you to put in the absorbency between the outer and inner layers. You are free to adjust the thickness depending on your baby’s needs. Prefolds cause more bulk but are absorbent, whereas microfiber is super trim. The choices for inserts is limitless. You could even use a towel or receiving blanket if you’re left in a pinch. Pockets can also be used as covers or swim diapers. They dry fast and for the most part wash up easy. Buildup can occur on the inner layer and soil could get trapped inside the pocket when washing--I have never had this happen to me, but there are always remedies for these circumstances. Prices range anywhere from $15-$35

One-Size Cloth Diapers can be pockets or All-in-ones and usually fit from 7 pounds to 35 pounds. If cloth diapering more than one child at a time, one size diapers simplify diapering so as to eliminate size sorting. Three snap-downs on the front of the diaper adjust the rise as your baby grows. Prices range $15-$35
Using cloth wipes saves a lot of money and since you are already doing the laundry, why not?They can be purchased for around a dollar a piece or made easily out of flannel. You'll want 18-32 (depending on how often you launder your diapers)

Kushies flushable liners help to simplify diaper care by shielding the diaper from waste. Solids can easily be shaken from diaper into toilet, for minimal rinsing or preparation for wash.
They run about $8/roll of 100 sheets
I am told sheets can be torn in half and are still large enough.

Diaper sprayers connect straight to the toilet and can be used as a bidet as well (great for new mama personal care). These help pre-rinse any soiled diaper without having to "dunk-and soak". Prices range from $25-$45, depending on the features it offers.
Diaper pail-- not all pails are created equal. A removable lid accommodates slightly bulkier cloth diapers.
Wet bags can be used alone or in conjunction with a diaper pail to contain used diapers. They are available for around $20 or easily made from coated nylon. This one has an elastic opening and will fit around wide pail brims. These are great as they can be thrown into the laundry with the diapers to clean and avoid the wastefulness and expense of disposable pail bags.
How do you wash cloth diapers?
Ask any cloth diaper parent and they’ll give you a different answer. You will have to experiment because it does vary depending on what system you are using, what kind of water you have (hard or soft), if your little one has sensitivities, etc. I always recommend that you start off SIMPLE. Wash the diapers just like you do normal laundry. If you begin to sense problems, ie. stink, rash, repelling, then start tweeking your routine.

Next week I will give more laundry tips, after you've all gotten your cloth diapers;) But here are a few ideas to think about.

Line drying, or creating a rack as shown (from PVC pipe) will help to eliminate odors in diapers when exposed to direct sunlight.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Think about your lifestyle and what you are needing your diaper system to provide. Do you utilize babysitting/daycare often? Are you looking for something extremely easy to wash and fold? Do you need the mix of an economical choice for at home but would like a more custom fit for on the go and/or diaper changes by Dad?

Come back tomorrow for more cloth diapering questions answered!

Purchase Diapers HERE

Part 1 HERE-Exposing the Myths (sanitation)
Part 2 HERE- Exposing the Myths (ease of use)
Part 3 HERE- Exposing the Myths (cost)
Part 4 HERE- Cloth Diaper Benefits (health, environment)
Part 5 HERE- More Benefits (potty training, and more)
Part 6 HERE -Basic info and terminology
Part 7 HERE- Building your cloth diaper stash
Part 8 HERE- Diaper Needs Questionnaire


Beth said...

I'm gonna try those prefolds around the house. They are so affordable!

David said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use, at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.

Tanya Leigh said...

I've wanted to for a long time, but I'm definitely adding a bunch of prefolds to my stash this go-'round. -- would you recommend fitteds too? My issue then becomes what type of cover (then it gets more pricey) I'm a one-size fan, for sure.

Emily Ruth said...

Yay for prefolds! Tanya, very good point about the covers. I'm actually a fan of the Proraps Classic cover which is only $9. To be honest, everyone says you need 6 covers per size (s,m,l), but I never needed more than 2. If one got soiled I put the other on him and rinsed the dirty one in the sink--hung it out to dry. By the time I needed it again it was ready. So 2 of each size comes to $54. Still pretty cheap, yes?

Kara said...

I'm going for it! Just got a great deal on some covers at

Going with flat folds and snappi. I have told my husband that I just plan on doing it at home (so he doesn't freak out) but I hope to have a good experience and make it a lifestyle change!

Emily Ruth said...

Awesome Kara! I think that is the best way to start-- no pressure, no stress. I hope more people start thinking like that. Part time is great, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Keep me posted on how it goes: )

Susie Faye said...

okay em, I'm getting closer. It's still a little of a blur to me because it's a whole new language and world for I am trying to decide between the prorap thing you said was your fav or the whisper wrap OR the pockets. I love the one size idea. Whichever ones offer one size, I like that idea with prefolds. Are One size diapers too bulky? That seems most cost efficient to me. I looked up the proraps that you like that are only $9 and those seem great. Are there any that I don't have to fasten the prefolds by using? Would that just be the pockets--cuz you can stuff them in there? Sorry I should call but it's late. Please guide me, I'm getting close!