CLOTH DIAPERS FAQ
Why Cloth Diaper?
There are many different reasons to cloth diaper. The main reason is because our little babies are precious! Cloth diapering is better for the environment and for our children. Consider all the diapers that you will change over the course of 1, 2, 3, or more children and the amount of landfill that you will use if you use disposable diapers. The image is staggering! In addition, our landfills are not equipped to handle human waste. If youread the small print on your disposable diaper package, you will read something like"Before disposing of dirty diapers, empty into toilet." Unfortunately very few disposable diaper users actually take the time to do so. Happily, you can make a difference by choosing reusable cloth baby diapers instead of throw-away diapers.
I also cloth diaper because I believe that it is better for my baby. Many babies develop rashes from disposable diaper and commercial diaper wipe use. With cloth diapers I know what I am putting on my baby, and I do not have a problem with rashes. Often witha disposable diaper it is impossible to tell that your little one is wet until he/she is very wet. This leads disposable diaper moms to believe that they don't have to change thediaper as often. In reality, whether using cloth or disposable diapers you should change your baby's diaper every couple of hours (more for newborns, possibly less for toddlers getting ready to potty train). There is also a new concern possibly linking disposable diapers to childhood respiratory problems including asthma, and I also worry about thechemicals used in disposable diapers. Please consider that the diapers you choose will benext to your little one's skin 24 hours a day every day for the next 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 years!
Cloth diapering is your most economical diapering choice! If you wash your cloth diapers at home, you will save money compared to disposables or diaper services. Ihave determined that I save at least $7 a week compared to the cost of disposables byusing cloth diapers. Most likely you will save more depending on the number of cloth diapers you buy and how much you pay to wash. I use a coin laundry so I pay $1.75 aload to wash and dry. If you receive the diapers as baby gifts and own your own washer and dryer, your savings will be even higher. At any rate, I will save $1000 diapering one child. If I diaper another child the savings will be greater because I won't have to factor in the cost of the diapers.
How Do I Get Started?
I started by putting out the word that I needed some cloth diapers and was lucky enough to have a friend who found some diaper service seconds for me. I bought some inexpensive diaper pins, Dappi nylon pull-on covers, and a secondhand diaper pail with a handle, pouring spout, and large lid.
I started with approximately 24 prefold diapers and 4 nylon covers. How many diapersyou need will depend on the age of your baby and how often you want to wash. Newborns go through more diapers than older babies do. You may change up to 12 diapers a day in the beginning! I suggest a minimum of 3 dozen diapers for your newborn, which will allow you to wash every 2-3 days. Once your baby reaches 15 lbsand graduates to the premium size diapers, you may find that 24 diapers is enough if you wash every 3 days. Since diaper covers can be air-dried and reused if not soiled,you will need a minimum of 4-6 covers. Dappi nylon pull-ons, Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, & Prorap Classics are all durable, economical choices. Just hang covers to dry between uses.
If you can afford to spend more, I recommend at least 6 additional fitted diapers withsnaps or Velcro to make nighttime diapering easier, and I would supplement your 4-6diaper covers with a wool Aristocrat or fleece cover for nighttime use. Also, All-In-Ones(a fitted cloth diaper with attached cover) are more expensive than separate diapers and covers but are very convenient and nice to have for going out or when Grandma is babysitting. You will only need a couple to supplement your diaper collection.
How Do I Wash The Diapers?
My cleaning system is very easy. I swish in the toilet if needed and throw all diapers inone diaper pail. I use a dry pail and wash every 3-4 days. Because I use a community washer and dryer, I wash the diapers in warm or hot water with Ultra Fresh Bre eze, Dr.Bronners, or Arm & Hammer For Sensitive Skin, and I dry them on NORMAL in the dryer. If you have your own machine, you may wish to run a cold rinse and spin first andthen a full warm or hot wash with an extra rinse cycle. I use 1/2 the recommendedamount of detergent so that it all rinses out to prevent irritating my baby's skin, and I add vinegar to the final rinse cycle by putting it in a fabric softener ball. I throw the nylon diaper covers in the washer along with the diapers and then hang them to dry. You will find that everybody has a different system for washing diapers. You must experiment tofind what works best for you and your baby.
Please do not use bleach, detergents with bleach additives, or fabric softeners on your diapers! Bleach breaks down the fibers, drastically shortening the life of yourdiapers, and fabric softener makes the diapers less absorbent. Instead hang yourdiapers to dry in the sun to take stains out and use vinegar to soften, remove residue,and restore the pH in your diapers.
What About Nighttime Diapering?
At night I have a system which works wonderfully. I use a prefold or fitted diaper and astay-dry doubler (with fleece on one side to help keep baby dry and terry on the other side for absorbency) covered by a wool cover called an Aristocrat, and I have never hada leak and I don't have to rediaper in the middle of the night!
If you have a newborn, you will need to rediaper in the middle of the night. I suggest fitted diapers with snaps or Velcro and a fleece or wool cover to make changing quick and easy in the dark!
Where Do I Go For More On Cloth Diapering?
Since those early days of cloth diapering I have learned a lot about the different diapers and covers now available, different washing systems, cloth wipes and wipe recipes,and where to find support from other cloth diapering moms.
Written by: joyce Witter
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