“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”
I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.
“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”
Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”
If you’re new to cloth diapers, or have been using secondhand diapers for a while and are just now buying your very first brand new cloth diaper, you might have heard that you need to “prep your new diapers in the wash before you use them.” But what does that mean?
“Prepping” sounds a bit like some new dumb social media meme, and it’s kind of tempting to just run up to random strangers and ask them “What do you think prepping is?!” and hopefully get some hilarious answers, but here’s the real one: it’s necessary because new cloth diapers are… new. I know, I know, this has been an extremely informative blog post so far. You must be stunned at the extent of my knowledge concerning such things. But factory-fresh cloth diapers, both cloth and synthetic, should be washed at least once before using them. They might have random residue from the factory or bits of packaging stuck on, and really, I’ve just always thought it a good idea to at least give things a good rinse before putting them on for the first time.
If you have synthetic-inner diapers, like microsuede-lined pocket diapers, one wash is all you need. Your diapers are ready to go! But if you have brand new natural fiber diapers or inserts, such as cotton or hemp, and especially ones made with organic unbleached cotton, you will need to “prep” them before they can be used.
A deliciously quilty pile of freshly washed prefolds.
A long time ago people used pins and flat diapers to diaper their babies. One of the biggest concerns with diapers then was accidentally poking the baby with the pins used to keep the diaper in place. Nowadays, with larger, safer pins and other alternative diaper closures, jabbing baby with a sharp object is far less of a diapering concern. Instead, one of the biggest worries I see parents ask is, “I took off the cloth diaper and there are red marks on my baby’s skin! What gives?”
There are many, many reasons for red marks caused by cloth diapers, and most of them are harmless. If you’re using fabric that can bunch up, like flats or prefolds, and the red marks are on the part of the body where your baby has just been sleeping on, there is little cause for concern. You know how sometimes you wake up and you smile lovingly at your partner, pleased at the luxury of waking up together, and he or she looks back at you and bursts out laughing because you have sheet marks all over your face, and then the loving moment is totally gone? Sometimes red marks from diapers are just something like sheet marks, where the fabric folds press against baby’s soft skin while he or she sleeps. They will fade shortly.
Elastic comes in multiple shapes and sizes on modern cloth diapers. It’s pretty good at the whole poop-containing thing.
All-in-one diapers are very popular, for good reason. Every part of the diaper comes sewn together in one neat piece, rather than having multiple pieces, such as inserts or covers, that must be assembled to make a complete diaper. The convenience comes at a price—they are more expensive than other diaper types—but they are especially well-liked by daycares and other temporary caregivers that may only be familiar with disposables. However, because all-in-ones are all one piece, they require a little different care and look different than other diapers. To make things even more confusing, some diapers that are actually pockets, especially foreign-made ones on eBay, are often labeled as “all in one diapers” even though they are what we call “pocket diapers.” Let’s look at the parts of a true all-in-one diaper below.
“I use an Ameda Purely Yours with 25 millimeter flanges, but the white valves need to be replaced and it wouldn’t hurt to get a spare set of diaphragms as well.” If you haven’t clicked away from that mess of words already, and you are new to the world of breastpumps, you probably are wondering what on earth everything is! Since most people have had absolutely no reason to research breastpumps at any point in their lives before they had children, the lingo can be mysterious and confusing! Why are there tubes? What is a flange? Will I feel like a cow being milked? We will explore the basic parts of a breastpump below.
Prefolded diapers were totally revolutionary at one point. Instead of having a large flat diaper to fold over and over again, prefolds were sewn so you only had to make a couple of folds to get the diaper on your baby! This ease, combined with prefolds’ durability and relative cheapness compared to the cost of other types of cloth diapers make them a well-loved staple of many cloth diaper stashes even today. Over the years, people have come up with a million different ways to fold prefolds! Some may work for you and some may not, depending on the size of your baby (and their temperament—some babies will happily let you spend five minutes trying to get a diaper to perfectly fit on them, others are lucky to give you five seconds). Here are five common ways to fold a prefold diaper, as illustrated by the good-natured and hard working Mr. Koala:
Also called the “trifold.” This fold requires no fasteners such as pins or Snappis, and thus must be used with a wrap-around style diaper cover to hold it in place (no pull-ons here!). You simply fold the prefold in thirds, like a business letter, and place it in the center of the cover. Super quick and easy! With my firstborn, we used this fold the most. This fold is also neat because you can easily pre-stuff a few covers with the prefold before changing your baby!
This is probably the most common fold when using a fastener. The bottom two corners are folded into the center, leaving two longer “wings” at the top that wrap around baby’s hips and are fastened. This is also a very quick and easy fold.
Cloth diapers are addictive.
Many people, mostly people who don’t use cloth or don’t have kids, will stare at you blankly when those words come out of your mouth. For heaven’s sake, they are diapers! It’s easy to understand buying an entire clothing line of baby clothes you think are adorable, or several of the same cute blankie because you know a few will get lost as the years go by. But…diapers? They’re just diapers, right?
No. They are not just diapers. They are diapers made out of mind-controlling, obsessive magical fabric that spurn you to open your wallet the second your favorite cloth diaper company comes out with a new line of prints, sending you running to grab the mail a few days later, throwing the diapers in the wash and the packaging in the recycle bin before your spouse can come home so they don’t realize you’ve bought EVEN MORE DIAPERS. This crazy obsession with cloth diapers has led to people spending hundreds of dollars on a single hard-to-find, highly sought after print (these people make far more money than me, by the way).
If you’re on a budget, or are afraid of getting caught up in the obsessive side of the world of cloth diapers, then a “Plain Jane” stash might be for you. The definition of a plain cloth diaper stash is a little different depending on the person, but it is basically a simple stash without the hundred-dollar prints or dozens of different types of diapers. For many people, it is a stash of flats and prefolds with some white covers. For others, it might be a stash of 25 white all-in-ones. Still others might have 30 tie-dyed prefolds and a couple of wool covers. Plain stashes can cross over with minimalism, so if you don’t have a lot of space or you just hate having “extra” things lying around (no 100-diaper stashes for you!), this might be something to consider.
So you’ve decided to cloth diaper, and you have a baby on the way. You’ve decided on the style and brand of diapers to buy, and now you just need to decide how many to buy. As tempting as it is to get all of the styles and colors possible, you will discover that buying cloth diapers upfront can absolutely bankrupt you if you go a little crazy. Many people know this from experience. I, uh, may or may not be one of those people. So, before you drain your bank account, let’s explore the question: how many do you really need?
There are many, many newborn diapers to choose from!
Okay. You’ve chosen between using hook-and-loop or snap closures on your diapers, or even a mixture of both. No more closure issues to deal with, right? Well, guess what—not all snap closures are the same, and different snap configurations can be the difference between you being able to use a diaper on your child or not!
I don’t mean to depress you, or send cloth diaper newbies away screaming at all the choices they have to make. But more than once, I have heard stories about parents buying a big-brand diaper that others rave about, only to discover that the snaps are too low or too far apart to get a good fit on their child, and they sadly return the diaper. Unfortunately, you won’t know what snap styles will fit your child until you are actually putting the diaper on him or her. Luckily, you can make most diapers work, but it can be frustrating when one just won’t fit properly and you know it’s because of snap placements. Let’s look at some snap styles below.
A colorful collection of snap diapers. I even use some of them.
I was a little worried when I decided to try cloth diapers for the first time. They look complicated. Especially the ones that I got. Mine were of the snapping variety that have removable pads. I was worried about how my son would deal with the new feel of cloth rather than disposable diaper on his rump. I was even worried about not being able to snap them properly and them falling off of my son. I shouldn’t have worries.
Why Snap Diapers
I chose snaps for one reason. I wanted to save money, so I wanted to know that the diaper would grow with my child. I didn’t want to use the most basic cloth diapers because I had no desire to use safety pins that near my child’s skin. Although the velcro diapers may have been able to adjust in the same way, I could see it with the snapping diapers. They looked like they could adjust from our second child being a newborn all the way through the toddler years when it was time to potty train. There were snaps to fold the diapers to the proper size as well as snaps to make the leg holes and waist smaller. Also, they were visually appealing.
The pads that came with the diapers were made of bamboo microfibers. They were much softer than I expected. I was relieved about that. A child goes through about six to eight diapers a day. I only had the six inserts that came with the diapers. I ordered thirty more so that when my second child came I would have enough for both of them. It would be enough for me to rotate in the laundry without an interruption in my diapering.
My Child’s Reaction
My son loved the diapers and would actually hold still for a diaper change. I know that this may seem like a small thing, but he usually tried to squirm away from a changing as soon as the old diaper was off. He had endured some skin irritation due to his disposables in the past, and wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having another diaper put on him. I liked the way that they breathed. I noticed that he didn’t try to take it off. I also liked that he would immediately come to me when he needed changing because, while absorbent, the removable pads still felt wet. This was ideal for preparing him to potty train. In fact, the only thing he seemed to miss was the sound that his diaper made when he was walking. He got over that fast.
The Down Side
I noticed that my son was getting a little red down below. It may have been because he was having stomach issues that week. It may also have been because he was chafing. Either way I would recommend stocking up on your favorite diaper rash remedy, just in case. That is the only down side that I experienced. All in all I enjoy our new cloth diapers, and so does my little one.