Note: This is not the post to read if you want to know the right way to select, use, or clean cloth diapers. (Fortunately for you, Hellobee has posts on all these topics!) But if you are wondering what it is like to transition from disposables to cloth when you are a complete newbie, perhaps this post will help encourage you to try cloth! 

I did zero investigation into cloth diapering when I decided to try it.  I love doing parenting research, but diapering wasn’t something I was passionate about.  I knew I would start with disposables because I wanted to get used to having a baby before I tackled any ambitious projects.  Once Scribble got here I had very little time to think about anything, so I stopped considering it for a while. After we got into a daily rhythm– and once the baby shower disposable stash ran out!–I decided I could find the time to try cloth, especially if it would save us some money.

I still didn’t do much research.  My goal with cloth is to save money; environmental and aesthetic concerns run second and third to my financial interests. We were cash-poor at the time and just didn’t have the capital to invest in all the cloth diapering gear. So instead of researching stuff I couldn’t afford anyway, I got on Facebook to see if any friends had a few I could borrow or buy. I decided it didn’t really matter what type of cloth diaper I tried in the beginning; I am a hands-on learner and probably couldn’t select my preferred brand by looking at pictures or reading diapering blogs. If my friends who use prefolds let me borrow theirs, I would benefit from learning how to use the most energy-intensive type of diaper from the outset. If my pocket-diapering friends offered theirs, I could try them out and see if they were as easy to use as they seemed.

Folks, I hit the jackpot on Facebook. A friend had recently moved to a more urban area and didn’t have a laundry area to herself. So she sent me all her Kawaii baby pocket diapers plus a pail liner and all the cleaning supplies! I was bowled over by her generosity.

I don’t expect everyone to be so fortunate. Still, I suggest not spending too much time or money in the beginning.  If cloth diapering turns out not to be your preference, or if you realize you don’t like the brand you chose, then you don’t want to be stuck with a hundred– or hundreds!– of dollars in gear you won’t use.  So borrow a few or buy a limited quantity to try out — any brand or type of diaper is fine; I suggest the cheapest you can get your hands on. It is only after you see how a brand fits your baby and lifestyle that you want to consider making a big investment of time and money.

Below is my day-by-day chronicle of how I eased into cloth diapering. I try to include all of the frustrations and benefits I encountered along the course of the week. Like I said, I did almost zero research before embarking on this project so everything I am learning is new to me!

Day 1:

UGH. Today I told myself I’d start cloth diapering! I have used the holidays as an excuse not to try it. I decide to attempt one day just to see how I like it– trying is not a commitment!

Kawaii diapers are pocket diapers, meaning they snap-on like a disposable and don’t need to be folded or pinned on.  But they do require users to slide a fleece insert into the diaper for absorbency.

I spend a few minutes in the morning putting the liners into the pockets and arranging them in a basket under our changing table. Then I take an old bucket, wash it out, and set it up in our powder room to use as a makeshift diaper pail. My friend included the rest of her detergent with the diapers she sent us (Crunchy Green brand), as well as instructions for how to launder them (extra soak cycle, then hot wash, extra rinse). I am so thankful for this; I had no idea how to get them clean and selecting a detergent brand would have been one more barrier to me trying these out.

I put him in one–is it just me or does he give me a look of relief as I snap the fuzzy, warm, diaper on?

A few minutes later Scribble poops. GAH. I dread changing this diaper because I know I’ll have to deal with its contents. I change him, then put him down so I can I handle the poopy diaper.  I rinse it in the sink, using the liner to rake the solids off. I hate that I have to do this in our powder room; I wish I had a utility sink!

After trying cloth all day we revert back to disposables when we drop baby off with his grandparents; we are going out for New Year’s Eve! I have a full pail of cloth diapers to deal with when I get home. Although I hate having to rake the poop out, I do realize that it doesn’t really matter how many he uses in a day; either way I’ll be doing the same amount of laundry. So that’s really not an issue.

Day 2:

Today we are out of the house visiting friends an hour away. I don’t fool with cloth diapers today. Baby has a blowout in his disposable diaper all the way up his back– and this time it isn’t urine.  Looks like our size two disposables are nearly useless to us; this is the second time he’s grown too big for a disposable size before he reached their maximum weight and before we were able to use all the ones we had purchased. What a waste of money!

Plus, even with a disposable I end up handling poop. Cloth is starting to look more compelling by the minute!

Day 3:

I start cloth in the morning. This brand has snaps down the front, in addition to those on the waist, to help the diaper fit better. Scribble is still able to wear his regular sleep-and-play, even the one that is slightly too small for him, after I snap the diaper up to fit him more snugly. I realize I need to set up a cloth diapering station; it is annoying to change baby in our room and then haul the diaper all the way across the house to the mudroom/laundry area where my powder room and washer sit.

That evening I wash my first load of dirty dipes. Getting the soggy mess into my front-load washer is the worst part. I end up slinging water all over the front of my front-load washer. Now I have to bleach it down. Gross! Next time, only enough water in the pail to keep the diapers moist!

Day 4:

We use cloth diapers all day today. They take a little longer to put on than a disposable and while I am wrangling it, my poor kid pees and scares himself! I have to take the new diaper off and use another. Still, I would be more frustrated if it had been a disposable; in that case I would have had to throw it away. It will be nice not to have to worry about running out of diapers too! I notice a few of his snugger onesies refuse to clasp shut. Oh well, he was almost out of that size anyway.

I take some time in the afternoon to reassemble the diapers that I’ve washed. There is drudgery in putting the inserts into the pockets, but it is more satisfying than having open diaper boxes sitting around my bathroom.

Day 5:

I find a soiled cloth diaper on our changing table. Hubby changed him last night but forgot to do anything with the dipe. Party foul! I rinse out the now dry diaper, then throw it and the rest of the soiled diapers in the wash. When I am rinsing out my pail I accidentally spill dirty water all over the counter. I have to get out the bleach and clean up the mess; meanwhile my kid is pitching a tantrum in the next room. Ok, why did I decide to try this? It really wasn’t that bad; I needed to scrub down this counter anyway.

A pail with a lid would be nice so that my guests don’t have to see diaper soup.

Day 6:

We accidentally used a cloth diaper last night and didn’t realize it until Scribble was sound asleep. But the next day he woke up leak-free!

And yet, today we have had about a zillion leaks…. up the back, on the side of the legs, etc. I do a little research to find a solution.  Do they need stripping?

I decide I need to pay attention more to fit: making sure the front is snapped up tightly and that the leg holes aren’t too loose is a problem for me (I never want to cinch them up too tight!).  Pulling the gusset as wide as possible before snapping in order to create a tight seal around the legs will help too.


Check out that too-loose diaper!

I notice today that Scribble looks a little rashy, so I smear on the butt paste and put him in a disposable, because you can’t use creams when you’re using cloth diapers. This derails us for a day. In the meantime, I determine the culprit– the disposable wipes I was using are irritating his skin. Will I be switching to cloth wipes soon as well?

I put some baking soda in his bath water and give him plenty of diaper-free time.

Day 9:

We are back to cloth diapering. I attempt to put soiled diapers directly into the wash— total fail! I think this works depending on your diaper and washer brand. For me, the best course of action is to hand-rinse them and leave them damp before washing.

~~~

After a few weeks of cloth diapering I’m hooked! I don’t feel hemmed in. I can do cloth when I want (which is most of the time), and can use disposables when I must. I am convinced that either method is equally convenient.  With cloth I do have more interaction with my kid’s byproducts, and I have more laundry to do, but it doesn’t matter how many we waste, and we don’t have to spend time scanning the aisles or Amazon for deals.

I am realizing that the 15 covers my friend gave me aren’t enough to make cloth diapering a daily habit, so now I’m shopping for more!

What was your first week of cloth diapering like? Any tips for me?

Cloth Diapering part 6 of 11

1. Cloth Diapering by parenting
2. On Cloth Diapering a Newborn by Mrs. Superhero
3. Easy Cloth Diapering by Mrs. Superhero
4. How to choose a cloth diapering system by Mrs. Superhero
5. Cloth Diaper Styles by Mrs. Pen
6. Cloth Diapering Diaries by Mrs. Sketchbook
7. Confessions of an (Ex) Cloth-Diapering Mom by Mrs. High Heels
8. They really are genius! by Mrs. Tea
9. Who, What, Why, and How: Cloth Diapering by mrs. tictactoe
10. On Cloth Diapering at 4 Months by Mrs. Stroller
11. Real Registry: Diana's Cloth Diaper Registry by Real Registries