Monday, January 28, 2013

How I Cloth Diaper My 15-Month Old

Since my blog as been dominated by food and home updates, I thought I would shake things up a bit and talk about cloth diapering my 15-month old son, James.

James wearing GroVia Hybrid Shell Diaper

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love cloth diapering. The process fulfills me in a weird way. I feel I am taking better care of James, the environment, and my wallet!

While my husband is not as excited about cloth diapering as me, he has been such a champ with the whole process. I remember bringing up cloth diapering to him when I was still pregnant. I think he thought I was just trying to curb my "nesting instinct" with baby number 2.

Well, with a little trial and error, $400 spent and thousands of dollars saved, I am a cloth diapering mama. I get asked about the process a lot, so I will share with you what an average week of cloth diapering is like for me.

There is no one way to cloth diaper. There are hundreds of brands, types of detergents, types of products, and many different kinds of washers. I can only share with you what I do! As my mom says, "Once you have your kids figured out, something changes." I feel it is the same with cloth diapering. Once I have the prefect routine, James out grows a diaper or something.

However, I can confidently say I have had no major issues with cloth diapering. Issues being: leaks, smells, costs, cleaning, storing, organizing, transporting, traveling with, or general use and convenience of cloth diapering.

There are plenty of times I have taken weekend trips to Rochester and used disposables. I am not a absolutely-have-to-use-my-cloth-diapers, cloth diapering nut. We have used one disposable per day since James was 5 months old - at night.

That's right, I don't double stuff my diapers or make James wear wool pants or any other drastic measures to be sure James is only wearing cloth. He leaks at night and disposables work! Plus, it gives me an extra break to have daddy do pajamas sometimes and I feel it is a treat for him to get to use a disposable diaper.

Here is a typical cloth diapered day in the life of my 15 month old:

James is roughly 25 lbs. He has a bubble butt and is big legged. A lot of diaper systems are called "one sized" systems. They have rows of snaps to help accommodate different sized babies. Most brands have a minimum of 7 lbs and a maximum of 35 lbs. Where you snap your diaper determines the size and fit for your baby.
Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

The snaps on the front of cloth diapers, I think, are a big reason a lot of people are afraid of them. Cloth diapers seem like such an inconvenience because of all the snapping. When really, it is just two snaps. They also come in hook and loop (or Velcro - the term hook and loop confused me in the beginning) to make changing even easier.

Yes mom, I know you are reading. It is just two snaps!

Different diaper systems (brands) have different methods for how you change your baby's diaper. One system is a diaper cover with an insert. The insert is changed when wet but the cover is only changed 2-3 times a day.

Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

Another system is sometimes called an "all-in-one", where the diaper can be pre-stuffed with a insert after washing. Then you exchange the entire diaper at changing time.

Of course, this is only the beginning of cloth diaper options. Check out, the site is one of my favorites for cloth diapers.

I have found diaper covers with an individually placed, tri-folded, cotton prefold (insert) is the best system for us. I go through 2-4 diaper covers a day and 5-7 prefolds. My favorite brand is Flip. They never, ever leak for us. But, I also use Grovia, Thirsties and Kawaii covers. I very rarely use all-in-one diapers, but I do own some.

Flip Daypack: 2 diaper covers and 6 inserts $59.95

To change James' diaper cover and prefold:

  • Lay baby down.
  • Remove dirty diaper.
  • Slide cover only under baby, positioning it correctly.
  • Lift baby and place trifolded prefold on top of the cover.
  • Fold prefold over baby.
  • Fold diaper cover over prefold.
  • Snap closed.

I do not change James' diaper cover until he has had 2-3 wet prefolds or 1 poopy prefold. Usually, James gets changed into a cover and prefold in the morning when he wakes up, and then a prefold change after breakfast. If he has had only wet diapers all morning, I change him into a new prefold before his afternoon nap at 1 o'clock.

Photo Credit // Diaper Junction

After nap, James gets a new diaper cover and we go through another 2-3 prefolds before getting changed into his disposable diaper at 8 o'clock. James is often very wet after his nap, so I like to change the diaper cover. Some days, he might be drier so I only change the prefold. When at any time, James poops in his diaper, the cover and prefold must get changed. He usually likes to save that for right after I put a clean diaper cover on him! Thanks, James.

Cloth diapers get ruined by many rash creams because the cream gets on the diaper and acts as a repellent. The diapers absorb all the wetness and leaks don't get on your baby's clothes. I think CJ's BUTTer cream is the best butt cream there is and it is cloth diaper friendly. It also smells awesome! My favorite CJ's scents are Monkey Fart and Honeyed Patchouli.

You might be thinking where I put all these soiled, stinky diapers after I take them off James, right?

My house has 2 bedrooms upstairs, the master and the nursery, and a full bathroom. I keep a large wet bag (a waterproof bag made out of a polyurethane laminate or PUL) next to the toilet in the bathroom for the dirty diapers.You can make your own bag, as I did! If James goes through 6 diapers a day, we have a pretty full bag after 3 days. I never go more than 3 days between washing diapers.

If James has only wet his diaper, it goes right into the wet bag with no rinsing. If James has pooped his diaper, the diaper needs to be rinsed in the toilet first and then placed in the wet bag. I use a diaper sprayer like this one costing you about $35. Totally worth it.

I find my washer does a great job of cleaning 15-18 diapers at a time. I have a top loader and we have soft water in our home. To clean cloth diapers I:

  • Empty contents of wet bag into washer.
  • Do a warm rinse cycle with no detergent.
  • Follow with a hot-cold wash with 2 Tbs Rockin' Green Laundry Detergent.
  • Follow with a cold rinse.
  • Dry in the dryer on low with no dryer sheet (they coat the diapers and make them repel instead of absorb wetness).

The washing system is a little lengthy I have to admit, but I have it down to such a timed science after washing diapers for over a year. Also, a lot of people don't dry their diapers in the dryer because you can damage the PUL with the heat. I have ruined a few "cheap" diapers from drying in the dryer, so I hang dried my diaper covers for a while. Once I switched to using Flip covers, almost exclusively, I found they handle my dryer just fine.

A lot of people think cloth diapering is more stinky than disposable diapers. In my mind, a diaper is a diaper. Take a big whiff of a freshly peed on disposable diaper and I guarantee you will think they stink, too. The wet bag holds in smells very well. I use a pail freshener, too. My diapers have never stunk coming out clean from the washer and dryer.
Rockin' Green Shake it Up! Pail Freshener
If I am out and about, I commonly bring one extra diaper cover and 3 prefolds in my diaper bag. I also bring an old Target bag or something to put my dirty diapers in till I get home. If I have a longer trip, I will carry a smaller wet bag with me to keep wetness and smells in.

Overall, cloth diapering is a more complicated process than using disposables, but I love it. I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kids, and cloth diapering is much easier when I can take full responsibility and care for them. Like I said earlier, my husband is quite the trooper when it comes to my cloth diapering expectations, but he has never had use them if he doesn't want to.

I am dying to hear what you think! I would also love to hear about your own cloth diapering experiences if you have them. Some of my favorite friends also cloth diaper and I feel like we could just talk about them all day, sometimes.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Hi MaryBeth - I used mostly cloth diapers with my kids 31 and 28 years ago! They were long cotton diapers that I would fold into a triangle shape, pin onto the kid and finish with "rubber" (really, plastic) pants(covers). I pretty much washed them like you do - rinse in toilet if necessary, throw into diaper pail with a weak bleach solution, dump all into washer, rinse, and then wash them in hot water. I hung them on the line every chance I got, because hanging clothes was therapeutic for me and it was so satisfying to see them all the same size lined up on the line. Ha, ha! They smelled great, too! ~Penny

    1. Thank you, Penny! My family has reffered to my diapers as "plasic pants" because I wore a pinned prefold with a plastic kind of underwear over it.

      My mom couldn't believe it when I started using cloth but I think she had what she went through with cloth diapering me in her head!

      I tried "sunning" my diapers outside last summer to get a few spots out but the diapers had a sort of funny "outside" smell afterwards... I think maybe they were a little too wet when I set them out?

      Thanks for the comment!


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