cloth diapers: getting the right fit

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One of the biggest problems we had when we started using cloth diapers was finding the right fit. The diapers are adjustable for babies and toddlers 8-35 pounds by sizing them small, medium, or large. Small is recommended for 8-16 pounds, medium is 17-22 pounds, and large is 23+ pounds. That’s a great starting point, but we found it’s not perfect. For example, if your baby has thinner legs or a smaller waist, you may need to go down a size. Likewise, if your baby has chubby legs or a larger waist, you’ll probably have to go up a size. And, what fits one week may not fit the next, so you have to adjust as needed.

Simply snap up from the bottom to make the diaper smaller, and unsnap to make it larger. The photos below show a diaper sized at large and then at small.

If you’re using the pocket-style diapers, then you’ll also need to size the inserts. You’ll notice they have snaps for that. Leave it fully open and unsnapped for size large. Snap down one for medium, and snap down two for small. See the photos below.

How you stuff the insert into the diaper shell is really up to you. Since we have a boy, we put the folded part in the front. For girls, I would put the folded part in the back. Additionally, you want the waist of the diaper to sit as flat against the baby’s stomach as possible (that’s one of the reasons I prefer the all-in-one style; it does it naturally). With the pocket style, due to the nature of its design, the insert can cause some bulk. You want the insert to NOT go passed the white part of the diaper so the waist of the shell (the colored part) can lay flat against the skin. In the photo below, you would want to stuff the insert without pushing it up into the red portion (top of photo) of the diaper shell.

I’ve always said it would be nice if they had just sewn that shut so you couldn’t actually push it all the way to the top.

Finally, it’s important to consider HOW you put it on. That might seem silly, but there really is a right and wrong way to put them on. Disposable diapers are pretty forgiving for the most part. As long as you get it on the baby and velcro it, you’ll probably be ok. For cloth, unfortunately that’s not the case. You want to get the leg opening elastic into the crevice of the leg/groin area as snugly as possible. You also want the back part of the waist to come up and over the front part before you snap it shut. That helps to create a good, snug fit that will resist leaks. I found this YouTube video VERY helpful: https://goo.gl/cJRJwx

If you are having issues with leaking, check out this post for more tips.

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help! my cloth diaper is leaking!

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Unfortunately, cloth diapers aren’t quite as forgiving as disposables. With a disposable, you just have to get it on and cinch it down with the handy velcro straps. It will do the rest. With cloth, you have to be a bit more specific with how you put it on, or it will almost certainly leak. Don’t let that deter you, though! The good news is once you figure it out, you’ll be set (until the little one grows, and you have to adjust…).

If your diaper is leaking, it usually indicates one of two things: improper fit OR over-saturation. If it’s over-saturation, that’s a simple fix: change more often! Since cloth diapers don’t have the handy “wet indicator” that disposables do, it can be tough to know when to change. With newborns, I usually recommend changing every 2-3 hours. With older babies and toddlers, most parents figure out their schedule and can change based on that. Our son is currently 18 months old, and his schedule looks like this:

  • Wake up (approx. 7:30 a.m.), new diaper
  • Bowel movement (approx. 10 a.m.), new diaper
  • Nap (approx. 12 p.m.), check diaper and change if wet
  • Wake up (approx. 2 p.m.), change right away if not changed before nap, otherwise leave
  • If not changed after nap, change at approx. 3 p.m.
  • Change before supper (approx. 5 p.m.)
  • Bath (approx. 6:45 p.m.), disposable overnight

Certainly, it’s not a perfect system, but if you have a general idea of the schedule, you can plan accordingly.

If the diaper is leaking, and it’s not due to over-saturation, then it’s an improper fit. If the diaper is too loose OR if it’s too tight, you’ll have leaks. Finding that perfect fit is the key!

  1. With the little one on their back, place the top of the back of the diaper just above their butt.
  2. Pull the front between their legs, being sure to get leg elastic snugly into the crevice between their leg and groin (this is KEY!). Stretch the elastic some here but not to its extent. That way when you get the front in place, it will stay snug into that crevice. *If the leaking is around the legs, it’s because the leg elastic isn’t snug in this crevice.
  3. Lay the front of the diaper flat across the little one’s tummy, about an inch below the belly button. Getting it flat with no extra bulk is also important to a snug fit. *If the leaking is at the top of the front, it’s because this isn’t flat.
  4. While holding the ends of the front flat along the little one’s side, pull the back  of one side up and over the front, so the front ends are hidden under the back. See the photo below.
  5. **NOTE: I do steps 2, 3 , and 4 together, one side at a time. I start with the side closest to me and do steps 2, 3, and 4. Then I move to the other side and do steps 2, 3, and 4.
  6. When you have a good, snug fit around the waist, make a mental note of how many snaps are left undone, so you can repeat it next time.
  7. Lift the little one’s legs up, and use your fingers to ensure a snug fit around both legs. Remember to also ensure the leg elastic is up into the crevice and not down farther on the leg.

 

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If you’re using an all-in-ones, it’s also important to be sure the flaps on the inside are lying flat and fully within the diaper shell. If they’re sticking out even a little, they’ll leak.

I know it might seem a bit daunting, but as I said before, once you get it figured out, I promise it becomes muscle memory, and it’s super easy! As your little one grows, you’ll of course need to make adjustments from time to time. Sometimes, you’ll even have to go down a rise setting but up in the waist size! Good luck!

baby butt balm (cloth diaper safe)

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One awesome thing about cloth diapers is your little one is far less likely to get diaper rash. On the flip side, though, when they do get diaper rash, regular diaper rash creams can’t be used. Not only do they stain the diapers, they can also mess with the absorbency! That’s no good. The other downfall to store-bought diaper rash creams is most of them are filled with all sorts of chemicals and artificial stuff that certainly doesn’t help the problem any.

If you’re looking for a cloth diaper-safe diaper rash cream, or you just want an all-natural option, this is the recipe for you!

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. In a medium glass bowl, melt together coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax (approx. two minutes in microwave).
  2. Allow melted liquid to cool to room temperature, approx. one hour.
  3. Using a food processor, coffee grinder, or similar appliance, grind oats into a fine powder.
  4. After the liquid has cooled for an hour, transfer it, essential oils, and oats into a blender and puree.
  5. Pour into a pint wide-mouth jar.
  6. Allow to cool before use at room temperature or in the refrigerator (will set as it cools).

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A little goes a long way, so use this in small amounts. Store in a cool, dark area, out of direct sunlight.

Cost Comparison:

  • This recipe = 50 cents per ounce
  • Boudreaux’s at Walmart = $2.17 per ounce

how to wash cloth diapers (the natural way!)

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One of the major turnoffs for folks and cloth diapers is the fact that you have to wash that yucky stuff! At first, I was right there too. Gross! I’m not dealing with that. It’s turned out to be far less nasty than I was expecting, though. It’s been a learning experience, and I certainly won’t suggest my way is the ONLY or BEST way to do it, but it works well for us! Here’s our setup:

We have two diaper pails in our son’s room – one for dirty cloth diapers and one for trash, wipes, and the like. The cloth diaper pail is green (get it?), and the other is gray. I also have them labeled (because I’m a dork like that), more so for the baby sitters than for us. I chose the Diaper Dekor Plus based on the customer reviews. For the trash pail, I use their refills, and I use their cloth bags for the cloth diapers.

When a diaper is wet, it goes straight into the green pail. When a diaper is dirty, we remove the bulk of the waste and flush it. The dirty diaper then also goes into the green pail. I don’t soak them or rinse them or anything.

I always wash when I have at least three clean diapers left (to allow enough time to dry) if that comes during the day. Otherwise, I’ll wash after the little guy goes to bed so they can dry overnight.

My washing method (for an HE machine):

  1. Empty the bag into the washing machine (no need to pull inserts out if you have pocket style).
  2. Turn the bag inside out, and throw that in the machine too.
  3. Fill the “bleach” compartment with white distilled vinegar and a few drops of orange essential oil (you can pre-mix this and use it also as a softener – one quart vinegar and 10-15 drops of essential oil).
  4. Run the washer on a “pre-wash” or “quick” cycle using cool or cold water. Stains are better removed with cool or cold water than they are with warm or hot.
  5. When the first cycle completes, open the washer and pull any inserts out that didn’t come out by themselves during the first cycle. At this step, I also typically unsnap any inserts that are snapped down for sizing to ensure a better wash.
  6. Fill the “bleach” compartment again with vinegar and orange essential oil, and fill the detergent compartment with 1/2 tbsp. of homemade laundry soap (or about 1/3 of the normal amount you would use of your regular detergent; do NOT use a “free” or other hypoallergenic detergent because it’s hard on the material).
  7. Run a “heavy-duty” cycle using the hottest temperature.
  8. Hang all diapers, inserts, and bags to air dry. Technically, you can tumble dry the inserts, but they’ll last longer if you don’t. If possible, hang them outside. The wind and sun will really help with odor, and they’ll dry much faster.
  9. Once a month, in place of your normal vinegar/oil mixture in the heavy-duty cycle, use bleach. You don’t want to bleach more often because it’s hard on the material, but definitely do it once per month.

bumGenius cloth diapers

If you’re considering cloth diapers and you’re not sure what brand to pick, it can be a daunting task! I’d like to say we tried several so I could tell you why we picked bumGenius. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I read a lot of reviews, talked to others who had done cloth diapers, and ultimately, chose bumGenius based on the info I got. My brother and his wife used bumGenius, as did our pediatrician. The reviews I read on Amazon and other parent forums were great. So, we chose bumGenius too.

One of the biggest questions I get is: “What’s the difference between the original pocket style and the all-in-one?” The pocket style has an outer shell with an opening at the back that you stuff inserts into. The all-in-ones are just that. The outer shell and two layer “inserts” are all attached as one unit.

At first, after reading reviews, I was pretty sure we would want to use the pocket style, so that’s what we stocked up on. I had a couple all-in-ones for comparison, but my gut instinct was the pockets would be better. After all, the pocket style allowed you to double- and triple-stuff as needed. That seemed like a no-brainer. Overnight diapering would require more inserts, right? Not necessarily.

While double-stuffing clearly adds more absorbency, it also makes the diaper more bulky and thus harder to get a good, snug fit. What does that mean? That means you are more susceptible to gaps at the legs and waist, and gaps lead to leakage. The pocket style also by its very nature makes the waistband bulkier. And again, more bulk leads to gaps and leakage. Don’t get me wrong – we still use the pocket style, but I now prefer the all-in-ones.

The all-in-ones have one bigger drawback, though. They take quite a bit longer to dry. Keep in mind – cloth diapers have to air dry so you want to plan accordingly and wash with enough time to dry before you’ll run out of diapers. I typically wash when there are three clean diapers left (or right after he goes to bed so they can dry overnight).

why we chose cloth diapers

When our son was born, as much as I hated the idea of adding thousands of dirty diapers to local landfills, the thought of using cloth diapers seemed like a ton of work and frankly, pretty gross. My brother and his wife had given us a handful of bumGenius diapers they had used for their boys, and they sat nicely packed in a bag in my son’s closet.

For the first six months, we used disposables and never thought twice (or even once!) about those cloth diapers chillin’ in the closet. Then, (and I’ll leave out all the unnecessary details) we suddenly found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck and looking for ways to cut costs. One day while my husband was at work, he sent me a text: “You wanna try the washable diapers?” It sort of came out of nowhere, but it suddenly seemed like something worth trying to save some cash.

Being a numbers nerd, I did the math of how much we were spending on disposable diapers. Curious what it costs? For a newborn and up to size 2 diapers, I estimated $40-50 per month. Sizes 3 and 4 were $45-60 per month, and it just kept going up from there. The initial investment for cloth diapers is considerable, yes, but once you have them, the only ongoing costs are water and laundry soap, which to us seemed like nothing. Plus, if you plan ahead and register for cloth diapers, you can get them as gifts, saving that upfront cost!

Health is another big concern when choosing cloth vs. disposables. Babies are much less likely to get diaper rash in cloth diapers than they are in disposables. Guess what diaper rash leads to? That’s right – a fussy baby with a sore bottom.

Cloth diapers also do a better job of containing “blow-outs” than disposables. I don’t think I need to go into any details on that one. Just trust me, a contained blow-out is a manageable one.

Finally, the impact on the environment was a huge for me. After six months of doing more than my fair share of filling the local landfill, I felt good about switching to cloth. Empty a diaper pail a time or two, and you’ll feel the same way.

Now, the first question everyone asks me is, “So how many do I need?” Most people recommend having 20-25 cloth diapers if you’re planning use them exclusively. We currently have 14, and I wash roughly every 48 hours. That seems pretty good to me. Ideally, I’d like to get to 18. In case you’re wondering, why 18? It’s because 18 is the number that will fit perfectly in the dresser drawer while he’s wearing one. Ha! That might seem silly, but it would give us a cushion of a few more to wash less often and still be able to store all of them in one place. One note on the number: newborns go through more diapers in a day than older babies and toddlers. If you’re planning to use cloth from the get go, it’s important to remember newborns go through 8-10 diapers per day.