Cloth Diapering 101
I wanted to be able to share this with some other, IRL friends!
This essay is probably the single best resource for someone thinking about cloth or who is new to cloth. I don't want to recreate her information, so I'll be brief and share more of my experiences and pictures, too! I'll talk a little about the different kinds of cloth diapers, because there are a lot of choices out there! I think the choices have contributed to cloth diapering's growing popularity, but it also makes it a little confusing and intimidating at first. Then I'll list some reasons why people use cloth, and finally I'll share some of the online sources I've used to shop for diapers (that's the fun part!). If I've missed something, let me know!
What is a cloth diaper?
Diapers need two elements: an absorbant part and a waterproof part. Sometimes these come as one package, like in an All-In-One. Sometimes they are separate, like with a prefold (the old-fashioned kind of diaper that works amazingly well) and a cover. Here is an awesome graphic that helped me so much in the beginning. Different people use different types.
Here is Adeline in a prefold without a cover. She was supposed to be folding her laundry, naughty baby!
We use mainly what's called a pocket diaper. It's a waterproof shell with an absorbant, removable insert inside. Two popular brands are Fuzzi Bunz and bumGenius. (Oh yeah, another thing you have to get used to, the ridiculous names of all cloth diapering products...) :)
Our workhorse Fuzzi Bunz!
When Adeline was a newborn we used a fitted diaper with a waterproof cover. The benefits of this is that you can reuse covers with multiple changes unless it gets soiled with poo or something. Some people stick with fitteds and covers all the way through to potty-training. I found it took too long to snap two things on a squirmy toddler, but that's just me.
Adeline is wearing a fitted diaper here, a Kissaluvs Size 0 (KL0).
And here she is in my favorite cover. This one is made from fleece, and it is waterproof.
Another, better shot of the KL0. It has a fold-down snap to avoid rubbing on the umbilical nub.
Wool (knit, crochet, interlock) makes a great diaper cover too!
So why do we use cloth diapers?
1) They are healthier for our baby. Adeline has very sensitive skin (like her mama) and disposables make her bottom unhappy. Even the disposable wipes they use at daycare irritate her a bit. The chemicals in disposables make me nervous, personally. Granted you can find a study to support every case under the sun, but I read of a connection between the introduction of the funky absorbant gel in disposables and the subsequent rise in Autism. Also, the gel is not allowed to be used in feminine hygiene products because of Toxic Shock Syndrome fears.
2) They are healthier for our environment. This is something that has been debated quite a lot, but I firmly believe that cloth is a better choice for the environment. There are so many environmental costs that go into producing one disposable diaper - materials, production, transportation, disposal. Then multiply that by the 10,000 diapers each baby will go through. Every cloth diaper has to be produced, but it can be done with organic materials, if that's important to you. It has to be transported, but you can buy locally or even make your own. It never has to be disposed, but you do have to launder it. Critics (and makers of disposable diapers, big surprise) claim that the environmental cost of laundering is equal to that of producing and disposing of disposables. We use detergents without harsh chemicals (as most cloth diapers like anyway!), and I line-dry the diapers on the weekends to further lessen our impact. So I say "hooey!" to that claim! (How's that for a thoughtful response!)
3) They are healthier for our wallets! Here is a savings calculator that can show you how much money you can save by using cloth. The calculator leaves out a big element though - the resale value of cloth diapers is quite high! I wish I had done a better job of keeping track of what I spent on diapers and what we've saved so I could tell you a concrete number. I bought many of our diapers used from the clothdiapering community, and then when Adeline outgrew the newborn ones I sold them and recouped most (50-75%) of that cost. Also, she has been in the same size of diaper (medium Fuzzi Bunz) since she was five months old, so these diapers have been in service for more than two years now! Talk about getting my money's worth! Lastly, diapers can be used on multiple children. While I sold off the newborn diapers, I saved our small Fuzzi Bunz and some of the really, really cute covers I couldn't bear to part with. The baby due in November is all set! (Which is not to say I'm not tempted to buy a cute diaper or two...)
4) They are healthier for lazy folks. We've never had to run to the store in the middle of the night because we ran out of diapers. And the laundry is no big deal. My husband and I both work full-time, and diaper laundry has never gotten in the way of anything. After Adeline goes down at night we often stuff and fold in front of the TV together. See! Cloth diapers can make your relationship stronger! :) Okay, that's taking it a bit far. But if we still had to go down to the river and bang things on rocks to get them clean, I'd say, yep, cloth would be to much work. But we push buttons and move things from one box to another. Couldn't be easier.
5) They are healthier for the cute! They are cute. They are soft. I'd rather wear soft cloth 24-7 than paper and gel.
Gnomes are cute! This is an All-In-One.
This was my husband's favorite diaper, an All-In-One.
This is a Goodmama fitted, which people go nuts for. I had to try one. Sure was cute!
Where have I bought diapers?
Most online stores are also great resources for information if you're like me and need to read about something 100 times in 20 different ways before feeling comfortable with it. :)
Cutie Tooties has a great selection, a nice website, awesome customer service and maybe best of all, a gift registry!
I bought prefolds and Kissaluvs for Adeline newborn stage from Baby Cotton Bottoms. Looks like they have a gift registry too now!
I've shopped at Abby's Lane, too, and have had great experiences. And, hey, free shipping!
And just one more really great online shop that I've used, Kelly's Closet.
Oh! Almost forgot! The Fuzzi Bunz Seconds store has great deals on brand new, slightly imperfect Fuzzi Bunz.
I hope this has been a tiny bit helpful, and feel free to use me as a resource if you have questions or confusions.