All Fluffed Up
Fluff butt! This is a long overdue blog post on our transition to cloth diapering and our growing love for all things fluff. Everyone has their reasons for doing cloth over disposables (aka sposies in the cloth world) and everyone has a preference for how they cloth (full time, just at home, not on vacation, all the time, etc.). As with anything in parenthood it is unique to the family and baby and there is no right or wrong way- just what works for you! I will share our story below followed by some tips and tricks we have picked up along the way these last months.
With our first we used the honest company disposables without problem for 2.5 years and decided to go that same route with our youngest. Around 5-6 months she began to develop a rash that at times was unbearable to see leaving diaper changes in tears for all. We took her to the pediatrician who prescribed antifungal creams, steroids and recommended a variety of over the counter creams. We asked friends and began to collect what looked like the pharmacy aisle of diaper creams, ointments and supposed cures for all diaper rashes both natural and very much not natural. Our awesome midwife even gifted us with the homeopathetic salve that worked for all 3 of her kids from her herbalist friend. Nothing was working on our poor little one's skin. Finally our pediatrician sent us to a pediatric dermatologist who again gave a list and prescribed a few more ointments, but had a heart to heart that it may be time to try a different type of diapering (we had also tried seventh generation, even some of the mainstream sposies). She suggested we give cloth a try to see if that would heal O's rash and give her skin a chance to see if it was something in the diapers that was causing it.
I admit the initial thought was daunting, despite having many friends who cloth that were immensely helpful. Many find it surprising that we didn't already do cloth as I am definitely more of a hippy crunchy mama, but again sposies are what worked for us initially and were from the idea of convenience, especially with a spouse who travels a lot for work. I started doing the research and felt a bit paralyzed at the amount of information and opinions that are out there around cloth diapering (the variety of types of diapers alone was enough to keep my head spinning- which one is better?!?). Again it came down to lots of trial and error until we found a system that worked for all of us. With the help of our midwife, a few close friends and an amazing organic baby store I stumbled on we started to see what style of diaper fit clicked for us. Side note: if you're in Maryland check out Aww Baby Organics in Savage Mill - they spent a good 30 minutes go over EVERYTHING with me and helping me select our first few supplies to start, plus answered many phone calls and emails. They also offer a cloth diapering 101 class.
We started with a few brands such as Smart Bottoms, Thiristies, and Blueberry and tried 3 styles including cover and inserts (prefolds with covers is another option), all in ones (AIOs) and all in twos (AI2s)/pocket style. What we ultimately settled on was AIOs from Smart Bottoms (with a few dreams that are AI2s), which now take up our entire stash.
And the beauty of it was within 12 hours of being in cloth her skin started to clear, 24 hours later the rash was completely gone!! That pulled the trigger for us to build up a stash and it is safe to say I am officially addicted to cloth at this point wishing we had started with our first. The upfront cost can be a bit of a shock, but we have also found it helpful that there are lots of places to buy gently used diapers from at a fraction of the cost. At this point O's skin is perfect and she has taught us that she is our sensitive skin one with learning such things as acid rash are a thing (i.e. we have to be careful with how much citrus she has or she gets red/irritated after a bowel movement). We've learned the importance of a good wash routine and a few tidbits that keep our sanity when cloth diapering. Once we had a good system down it was just like doing another load or two of laundry (which lets be real with multiple toddlers there is at least 1 load a day happening anyway). In my researching many friends recommending this great site and their FB page to get a solid wash routine figured out. We ultimately discovered that despite using all organic diapers the best and only detergent to do the trick for us is Tide powder. There are plenty of more natural options that work for other families, but for us and our wash machine (LE HE front loader) this was the detergent that left our dipes clean and our little one's skin the healthiest. So the fun part- lets break down what this all looks like for us!
Here are what styles we use:
I will get into more options below of what we use at night, but the fitted pictured above on the far right is one of the overnight dipes we use. The entire diaper is absorbent and we use a lanolized wool cover over it for more air flow. We use this option bulked up with extra inserts for our heavy wetter when O has a hint of a rash to give her skin more option to breath. During the day we use the below Smart Bottoms:
The dream diaper pictured above is a mix of organic hemp & cotton meaning no prep work aside of one wash before ready for on the bum (OTB) and the one size is all organic cotton meaning prep of 6-12 washes for the natural oils to be washed out to prevent leaking from happening (the one pictured still has a few more washes to be fully prepped hence the off white color).
In addition to fitteds at night, we sometimes use the overnight snap in insert SB has for their dream diapers pictured above. That one looks like this:
Since we were already doing diaper laundry we figured we'd take the plunge and do cloth wipes too. I opted to make mine with some scrap cotton flannel fabric I got at JoAnn Fabrics. Inside a soap dispenser I mix water with BabyBits soap squares that are a mix of essential oils and castille soap (you can make your own mix too- it's super easy). A few squirts of that on each wipe before a diaper change and we have wet wipes! We also discovered that not all rash creams and ointments are safe for cloth as some put a layer on cloth causing leak problems and stink issues. After trying a few we love the herbal one that was gifted to us homemade and Balm! Baby. Other ones we like are MotherLove and CJ's butter brand. All are tried and true in the cloth community. Here's a great list to reference.
For storing dirty diapers we use wet bags when out and about, and at home toss the pee diapers straight into the diaper pail and dirty diapers in pail after being sprayed and rinsed out. There are a variety of ways to store used diapers: hanging wet bag, pail with liner or pail without liner. Some use a trash can with liner in and others a tall hamper with lid. Since O's room doesn't have windows there isn't a ton of air circulation so we opted to use a hamper without a liner to cut down on smell (seems conterintuitive but the air flow keeps stink down as warm moist environment = bacteria = smells). We found 3 days between washes is the trick as it's the right amount of diapers for proper agitation in the wash.
Speaking of soiled diapers . . . a few things that have made our life easier are 1) bioliners for lovely toddler poop and 2) our toilet sprayer and shield. Note: I've heard from mamas who've done cloth from day 1 that these aren't really needed until they start solids. Breastfeed baby poop can go write into the wash with the pee diapers without needing to be sprayed. Formula fed poop does need to be sprayed.
As for fit, many are one size fit with snaps to adjust as baby grows. O is currently on the first rise snap, 4 snaps open on the thigh row and 5 snaps open on the waist row.
Other helpful accessories are fleece liners for moisture wicking, boosters for heavy wetters or toddlers who flood their diapers often, these diaper clips vs. the old school diaper pin, and these wool covers for fitted diapers. There are many ways you can store diapers and IKEA has some great options from their carts to shelving, to these packable cubes.
Where to buy from? Nicki's Diapers, Kelly's Closet and Diaper Junction have wonderful trail programs if you're on the fence and want to try. Lil Tulips is a great small shop, same with Great Lakes Baby Company, Waterlillies Boutique, Dipes'N'Duds, Natural Okie Baby, Green Diaper Store to name a few that carry cloth diapering needs.