Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meg vs. Babies: Cloth Diapers and DIY Cloth Wipes

I have thought on and off about trying cloth diapering ever since we had our first boy. And now that we are on number three and the diapers keep piling up, I finally decided I needed to go for it. It haunted me that we paid so much, threw so much out, and didn't have something sustainable in case of an emergency.

Thankfully, cloth diapers aren't what they used to be. After looking all over for affordable used cloth diapers on Craigslist and elsewhere, I found Alva Baby, which is a Chinese pocket diaper manufacturer (I know, bad American. But I am a poor American, so this is what I can do). Their new diapers are cheaper than almost any used ones I could find here in the bay area, and they had pretty decent reviews. For about $135, I got 20 diapers (they actually ended up sending me 22 for some reason), 40 inserts (20 that came with the diapers, and another 20 more heavy duty liners with bamboo), a roll of liners, and a wet bag for the diaper pail.

They arrived after about a week, and I washed all the covers and inserts with bumGenius Diaper Detergent that I ordered from Amazon (washed the bamboo ones seperately 3 times in hot water to prep them), and was ready to try them on the boys. Since they have snaps to adjust the size, I can use the same batch for both of my boys in diapers.

I was worried about Mr. 2-year-old being resistant to switching up his Huggies, but he thought these bad boys were pretty fancy.

Then I got to thinking, "Why should I keep buying wipes, too?" So I pulled out my stash of flannel receiving blankets, most of which I received as gifts but haven't used because I have big babies and can't keep a good swaddle with them. I cut three of them up into squares (16 squares per blanket), and folded them tissue-style so they would pop out of my wipes container. Here's a quick how-to on that in case you're curious.

1. Lay out a square, like so:

2. Lay another square overlapping half of the first.

3. Fold the first over the second, like so:

4. Lay down a third where the first one was.

5. Fold the second one over the third one (see where this is going?).

6. Repeat until you get a stack like this:

I put a stack of 48 wipes (three blankets' worth) into an extra wipes container, and then went to work on some wipes solution.

I had pinned this solution a long time ago, but on reviewing it, it seemed like it used a LOT of soap for the amount of water it required. Plus in includes baby oil in it, and I read mixed reviews online about whether you should use baby oil with cloth diapers. I also read reviews from people who said just to use water and forget about adding anything. So I took my own approach, boiled two cups of water, added a squirt of the baby wash I had on hand (I think Johnson & Johnson's shea butter something-or-other), and dumped all over my lovely new wipes. Done!

Note: Due to gravity, more solution will sink to the bottom of the stack, making the bottom wipes soggy and the top wipes dry. I would just flip your stack over once a day to redistribute the solution. I do this with my store-bought disposable wipes on occasion as well.

So far they work fine, and it is kind of nice to have something sturdier than my regular wipes between me and whatever mess I am cleaning up (even if I am then throwing it in a laundry bag instead of the trash).

*Update: I realized after a couple of washes that these wipes would fray, since they are flannel (duh, for anyone who sews regularly; I sew not-so-regularly). So as I have pulled them out of the dryer I have been doing a quick zigzag stitch around the edges to prevent more fraying. Otherwise, a few weeks in and I am still happy with them!

One day in, and I would say that the cloth diapers are only marginally more work than disposables (granted, I haven't washed a load yet, but I have a machine that will do all that work for me!). And here is my take on the eww factor: If you are on your first baby and still kind of grossed out by poo, this can seem a little gross, since you may have to do some rinsing (like for my 4-month-old), and you have to pull wet inserts out of covers, dump big poos into the toilet (for my 2-year-old), etc. But after three boys and potty training, the poo part doesn't really bother me, and it is no grosser than cleaning out the training potty we used for my oldest (seriously, for some reason poop is so much grosser in that little potty than in the diaper. Not sure why.). The cloth diapers have done better at containing the newborn poop (we had a blowout pretty much every time he pooped before), which means that I don't have as many clothes to scrub and soak. And the liners in my 2-year-old's diaper minimize the poo interaction there. But to make things easier, I got this Diaper Sprayer on Amazon for $15 (though it looks like it has gone up in price since then), and am planning to hook it up today.

If I change my mind about this whole cloth diapering thing after a couple of weeks I will let you know, but so far I am pretty happy with it!


  1. I have been so torn on this point. It seems like this is a "trend" and I hate following trends. But when Sariah was born we bought cloth diapers, but stopped quickly- hated the type we bought, and they were SO big on her that we couldn't button any of her clothes up. But I really want to try it again, I just know I need to get a different brand.
    I have (sorta) accepted the poop factor- and that doesn't bother me to much, we have the spray thing and all that- but what really confuses me, is that so many people seem to use disposable liners, and that seems so contradictory to the point. Is that what you use? Any other insight?

    1. The liners I use are flushable bamboo liners, so I guess they are the "greenest" disposable thing you could use, and it was $5 or $6 for a big roll of them. But I don't use them all the time, and am finding that they get bunched up in there anyway which decreases their effectiveness, so I may not keep that up. I have seen some cloth diapers that have fully disposable inserts that aren't any cheaper than diapers, which confused me.

      Also, the diapers seem bulkier on our little guy and he is super chunky (like 20 lbs at 4 months chunky),so I can imagine that the diapers I have would seem super huge on a normal-sized baby. But on my 2-year-old, they really aren't bulkier than a disposable. Granted, I don't know what type you have, but if they are a one-size type, they may not seem so bad now that Sariah is bigger... Just a thought =)

  2. Tina Montiero was telling me about RagaBaby cloth diapers. They are US made and apparently amazing. She uses them exclusively for her baby.