An Accidental Passion | Cloth Diapering for the Modern Mom

I want to preface this post with some information. I am not a crunchy granola kind of person. Yes, I recycle as much as humanly possible, I make all my own baby food, I am a huge advocate for nursing & I bring my own bags to the grocery store. However, I drive an SUV so I can’t claim to be all that green. But I try as best I can.

A recent conversation at Target:

cashier: [holds up baby gadget I was about to purchase] “they sure make the neatest things for babies these days!”

me: I know! So much fun stuff!

my mom: “How did we ever raise babies without all this cool stuff?!?”

cashier: “I know! Would you believe that with ALL this great stuff my daughter in law is using CLOTH DIAPERS on my grandchild??” [scrunches nose in disgust]

me: “well, actually I use cloth diapers on my daughter and I love them. Look, aren’t they cute??”

cashier: [silence]

This is the conversation I seem to find myself in on a regular basis. When people hear or see that I have chosen this unconventional way of diapering my child, I get everything from blank stares to looks of disgust. I wish I had the ability to open people’s minds about the subject, so I thought why not bring it here! So here it goes, Cloth Diapering for the MODERN MOM!!

I don’t remember exactly when I decided that cloth diapering was for me. It was somewhere during my stint with pregnancy brain (which I swear, is absolutely positively real) that I made this decision. I picked the brains of the four people I knew who cloth diapered (CD’d, for the remainder of this post) their children. I learned their process, their systems & their raves & gripes. I visited a local baby shop that had a bunch of different brands to look at. I touched them & opened/closed them. I fell in love with the soft material that my unborn child would have close to them for the next two years. Seemed a lot better than crunchy, scented, chemical laden materials. CD’s have come a LONG WAY baby!!!

WHY WOULD YOU CLOTH DIAPER?

There are many answers to this question! If you want a very intelligent, fact checked answer, go to The Real Diaper Association Facts Page. I cannot post the info here due to copyrights, so please, give that a look. It’s a fantastic, informative resource.

If you want a regular mom’s answer, here it goes: I thought about how uncomfortable maxipads are & the thought of crunchy, chemical filled material like that up next to my daughter’s most sensitive areas 24/7 for two years just didn’t feel right. I also loved that I would not create waste. I also really loved that my cost of diapers would be about $300 vs the couple thousand dollars it would cost to use disposables. I love how they look. I love how they feel. I don’t mind the extra laundry. I think they are really cute & colorful!

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE BRAND THAT YOU DID?

I was lucky enough to be able to touch & feel about 10 different brands of diapers before settling on Fuzzi Bunz as my diaper of choice. I looked at all the methods, and the FB just looked like the simplest to use. I liked the snaps vs. velcro for a couple of reasons. One, they are tougher for the child to take off themselves. Two, they will wear better than velcro. Three, a pet peeve of mine is velcro that sticks to everything in the dryer…so no pulling stuff apart.

I use the Fuzzi Bunz One Size diapers. These diapers, with the proper sizing adjustments, will be the only diapers I ever need for my children. They will fit a newborn & a two year old. Very cool! They are lined with the softest fleece, that wicks moisture from the baby’s bottom & are called “pocket” diapers because you stuff them with a cotton pad insert. I double stuff overnight. Very easy. They adjust using a maternity pant-like button & elastic system around each leg, as well as the waist. You can also custom fit the snaps for the perfect fit. Perfect fit=NO LEAKS! You will need to change your baby after a couple of hours, because if the pad insert is full, the diaper will leak. Good rule of thumb is change every 2-3 hours, except during the overnight hours. You want to change your baby that often anyway to prevent diaper rash whether you use cloth or disposable diapers. My daughter has never had a diaper rash.

HOW DO YOU WASH THEM?

The biggest “nose scrunch” I get from people has to do with how to handle dirty diapers. I hear “I don’t want to touch poop” almost every time I talk about it! For some reason people think you rinse them in the toilet. To that, I say GROSS! I certainly wouldn’t want to do that either! But you don’t do that. You don’t have to touch poop any more than with disposables. I have never had a blowout with my Fuzzi Bunz–so I bet disposable diaper-ers have handled more poop than I have with as frequently as I see disposables unable to contain poop! But let’s be honest here…we’re moms & we’re going to touch it at some point. I just don’t think that is a good excuse not to CD because it comes from a lack of understanding how CDs work.

Before solids were introduced, all I did to wash the diapers was unstuff them (grab the pad insert & pull it out) & throw the entire thing in the wash. If poop gets into the cinched part of the diaper on the side, I would loosen the elastic using the button sizing feature, just to be sure it could be rinsed out. I can only speak from my experience, which has been exclusively breastfeeding, but I have never had a problem with stains then & I don’t now. My wash/dry regimen on an LG front loader is the following:

  • Wash setting: NORMAL/COTTON
  • Water Temp: HOT/COLD
  • on the side “extra” buttons, I use the PREWASH, EXTRA RINSE & WATER PLUS options
  • To dry: SPEED DRY set to LOW heat for 50 minutes. I try to dry them outside when I can. The sun bleaches the diapers better than any chemicals can!
  • A few notes on the above…you always want to wash hot & rinse cold. I do a prewash to rinse the diapers of urine & poop. I do an extra rinse to be sure nothing is left in them after the wash cycle has run with soap, as it is the soap that causes unpleasant odors if it builds up. I use the water plus option because if you do the math, you need a lot of water to counter the amount of pee that is in there. Most front loaders do not use enough water to effectively wash your diapers in clean liquid.
  • I follow with a TUBCLEAN with bleach when I feel the washer is smelling funky. Which is every couple of  weeks or so.

Once we began solids, I began using flushable liners. These resemble a dryer sheet & get placed between the baby & the diaper. THESE ARE AWESOME. I will use them sooner next time. Following a poop, I simply lift (or dump) out the mess & flush it down the toilet. I unstuff the diaper & throw it in the bag to be washed. Solid foods actually made cloth diapering easier, as the output from solids is easier to dispose of. I have no experience with jarred baby food output, but since I am making all my own baby food, I can directly alter the consistency of her stools by choosing what to feed her at each meal. This certainly makes it easier on me. I still haven’t switched to cloth wipes and don’t intend to. If anything missed the liner, I just wipe it with the used wipes & throw them away, or use toilet paper & flush it. Check this video out for the full visual: FuzziBunz Diapers + Flushable Liners.

WHAT DO YOU WASH THEM WITH?

CDs cannot be washed with “regular” laundry detergent. Many leave behind buildup that causes the diapers to stink, as they do not rinse clean. What you’ve got to watch out for are enzymes, fabric softeners, brighteners, scents & dyes. The soap you use should not contain any of these. I began using Country Save, which can be found at any military commissary for dirt cheap, and also at some grocery stores. I have also used Charlie’s with so-so results. My diapers seemed to not get as clean with Charlies, but this may be user error, as I don’t think I was using enough soap during my short stint with Charlie’s. Following a stink problem using Country Save, I have recently switched to Rockin’ Green & have been VERY VERY pleased with the results. For a wonderful resource on diapering detergents, see this chart. However, they do not review Rockin’ Green, which is my favorite so far. Rockin’ Green sells samples for 75¢ so you can try before you commit to a whole bag, since diaper detergent lasts forever! I took one of the samples & “rocked a soak” which means I put every diaper I owned in the bathtub with a packet of soap & hot water & soaked overnight. After a full wash, my diapers had never been softer, whiter or smelled better. I adore this stuff, so check them out!! Questions are answered directly by the owner, Kim, on their Facebook Page. Added bonus for San Antonians, their store front is in the Alamo Ranch area, so literally, she is right up the street!! I love supporting local business!

Also important to note, is the use of diaper rash creams or powder. Hopefully, you will never experience a diaper rash, which is one major perk of using cloth diapers. Fuzzi Bunz claims that babies who wear their brand experience fewer diaper rashes, and I have to agree, as we have never experienced it in our house. Creams should not come in contact directly with the fleece as it can cause repelling and problems with absorption. What I have done when my daughter has looked a little red, is spread a little Aquaphor on the affected area which is covered by the flushable liner, which acts as a barrier from the fleece. This has treated the problem overnight everytime. Powders are just unnecessary. For more FAQs, head to the FuzziBunz FAQ Page.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR “SYSTEM”

This was my biggest question before I started. I couldn’t wrap my head around how to store them until I washed them. So here is my system:

I have two locations for dirty diapers because I have a two story house. Downstairs in my laundry room I have a plastic bin on a shelf above my w/d to catch any dirties from downstairs changes or from when we were out & about. I also use it if one happens not to wash totally clean & I have to wash it again. Upstairs in my daughter’s room I have rigged my system to be hidden in a woven wood hamper. I use the FB In and Out Mess Free Diaper Bag to store the dirty diapers. I have two of these, as one is usually dirty and one is clean. I love it because it zips open at the bottom & all I have to do is unzip it & throw it in the wash–no touching of dirty diapers necessary. My plastic bin allows for the same thing–dump & wash, keeping my hands clean.

When I am out & about, I always carry a FB Zippered Diaper Tote in my diaper bag for the dirties. Before I throw a dirty diaper in it, I always unstuff it, so all I have to do is fold the bag inside out for washing. Easy as pie.

Wipes get thrown in the trash. Liners get flushed. Poop is where it should be…down the toilet not sitting in the landfills.

HOW MANY DO YOU NEED?

Honestly, it depends on how often you want to do diapers. I could get by on 12. If I wanted to. But I don’t want to do laundry that often. Until recently, I had been just fine with 19. I bought one to try before I committed, then FB ran a promotion that gave me $40 of free merchandise with the purchase of 9 diapers. I then bought two sets & used the $80 in free product to get the bags & totes for my system. I recently purchased three more. Only reason: NEW COLORS! They were super cute. Not a very good reason, but I bought them anyway. (bought the new colors locally @ Bloom Maternity) So now, I have 22. I do laundry every other or every third day.

And now, for some eye candy…I opted to leave them all large, because I think it is important that you see as much detail as possible if you have never seen one in real life!

[this is the FuzziBunz One Size in the brand new 2010 color Crushed Berry]

[these are the snaps you use to achieve the perfect fit. you are looking at the front of the diaper. there are waist snaps on the top row & hip snaps on the bottom row, assuming you are viewing the diaper right side up]

[each diaper comes with a small pad insert & a large pad insert plus an extra set of elastics. I have yet to need the replacement elastics.]

[this is the tush end of the diaper]

[cotton pads, large & small. I used the small when my daughter was a newborn. now I only use the small size when I double stuff her at night.]

[this is the button & elastic sizing system that makes these “one size” so you can adjust them with the growth of your child. I love that you can get them to fit perfectly with the proper adjustments. this is very similar to many maternity pants sizing systems that grow with you.]

[soft as can be!!!]

[the sizing system is numbered so you achieve consistency through out your entire set of diapers. I have only re-sized mine twice, so it’s not like you have to do it all the time.]

[this is the waist button & elastic, so you can get the perfect waist fit, on newborns through toddlers. if you are having problems with leaking, before blaming the diapers, be sure your sizing is right. It does need to be pretty snug. I credit this waist sizer for my zero blowout record.]

[this is how you “stuff” the diapers. Cotton pad goes in & you tuck the fleece under the pad, under the cinched waist. If you experience leaks in the waist, be sure the fleece is tucked. more in the video on that. you can also see the coating on the diaper in this shot. be sure to watch the video for tips on easy stuffing technique, since it is kind of sticky.]

[I also put together a tutorial video so you could see the diapers in action. please use the comments section if you have any questions about cloth diapering, or anything else discussed here. I will follow this post up with  Q&A if there is enough interest!! I would also love any tidbits of wisdom, if you happen to be a CDer yourself! there are all sorts of tricks out there & I’d love to know yours! do tell!]

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Hi! Hello! I am Shawna, the founder of Styleberry Blog. This creative corner of the internet has become a learning haven for moms and creatives, offering a warm and encouraging nudge to those who wish to be better and do better, but often don't know where to start. From Decorating to DIY to Diapers and Paleo-ish Dishes, I strive to make the complicated simple and empower women to take action beyond their personal comfort zone. I subscribe to the Shine Theory & so strongly believe that we shine when the women around us shine and mutual support—lifting up instead of tearing down--will always be the culture here. Are you in? I hope so! Beyond the computer, I run Styleberry Creative where I work with clients to create low fuss, high function spaces that are pretty and practical in San Antonio, Texas and beyond. I LOVE making a house a home. My own studs out renovation is now complete and I am now back to working with clients. Please don't hesitate to drop me a line if you'd like to work together! I hope you’ll join me on this fun new adventure! Xo.