When I was a pre-teen, I had younger siblings that were cloth diapered. I changed more diapers and stuck myself with pins more times than I can remember, but what I learned was that changing cloth diapers was not a big deal. Cleaning cloth diapers was not something I had to deal with, because our family had a diaper service that just took all the diapers away, but I figured, how hard could it be? I always knew cloth diapering my own kids was something I wanted to at least try, partly because I already had half the experience I needed, partly because my husband and I are excessively frugal, and partly because it just seemed like a kinder, gentler, more eco-friendly way to live.
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The way it turned out, I ended up mostly cloth diapering my first child, except for one disposable at night and one a couple times a week when we left the house for a few hours. He was surprisingly easy to potty train at 19 months. My second child is now 18 months old and she gets a disposable at night (though she’d probably be fine in cloth, because she doesn’t pee anywhere near as much as my son did at night) and one in the morning from about 9 am to 12 pm while my son is at preschool. Sometimes we run errands or are otherwise away from home during this time, but even when we come home right away, I’m lazy in the morning. All afternoon until bedtime she’s in cloth diapers (usually 2 or 3) unless we’re going to be away from home. I haven’t tried potty training her yet, so I don’t know if that will be as easy as it was with my son.
After cloth diapering 2 kids, what have I learned?
- Anyone who tells you it’s as easy as disposable is flat out lying, but, really, it’s not THAT hard. Changing diapers has a learning curve, but it’s nothing like the pins and rubber pants I had deal with as an older sibling. Nowadays, there are several different options, but even the cheap option we chose is really easy (and not at all dangerous to one’s fingertips).
- As one might imagine, the only truly obnoxious part about cloth diapering is dealing with dirty diapers. Also, after much trial and error, I learned that there’s a magic secret to cleaning diapers from a breastfed only baby. Spray them off and put them in the sun. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but breastmilk poop stains magically disappear. When my kids were babies, I used to spray them off and let them dry on my bathtub. Then once a week I would lay them out on the deck for like 15 minutes, then throw them in the wash. If the stains were really persistent, I would rewet them with a spray bottle before putting them in the sun, but that was it. After that, they’d be bright white again.
- Once your kids eat solid foods, yes, poopy diapers can be gross. A diaper sprayer is an absolute necessity in my opinion. Also, with my daughter, I’m a little lazy, and as I mentioned above, I keep her in disposable in the morning, which is when she usually does her business. Avoiding poopy diapers is the easy way out, but if you’re really committed, then see #4.
- I’ve read that some people don’t have a problem with poopy diaper stains once the baby is on solid food. I don’t know what their secret is. However, this is what I’ve learned: diapers wear out, like socks, so why keep them in pristine condition? We spray them off with the diaper sprayer, pour a little Oxiclean mixed with water on the stain, then let them dry. I wash them on a cold cycle, then a hot cycle with an extra rinse, then throw them in the dryer, so I feel they’re sanitary, if not as gleaming white as they once were. I used to use bleach to get them extra clean looking, but I think the more I treat them, the quicker they wear out, at which point they just turn into really great cleaning rags before being ripped to shreds and thrown in the garbage. So I don’t stress over it anymore.
- As mentioned in #4, diapers wear out. Having a diaper service as a kid, I just assumed they didn’t since we got perfect diapers delivered every week. Therefore, cloth diapering is not quite the money saver that I thought it was. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely saves money, but if you’re planning to have 4 kids, odds are pretty good you won’t be able to use the same set of diapers on all 4. I started out with 3 dozen diapers with my first child and I’m down to 25 with my second. I have to do laundry slightly more often, but it’s worked out for me. However, if we end up having a third kid, I probably will buy 10 or 15 more diapers so that I’ll feel like I’m doing a full load. The Snappis that I use to keep the diapers closed also wear out. I started out with 6 for my son, and I’m down to 3 with my daughter. I think I lost one and had two break. Since you only really need one functioning one, 3 is more than enough.
- Lastly, if you’re going to go to the trouble of cloth diapering, you probably want to use reusable wipes as well. The policy in our house is that we use cloth wipes for pee and disposable wipes for poop. The wipes we use are cutup “all-purpose handy wipes” from the 99 cent store. One pack has been more than enough for both kids even though I’ve tossed several out once they got holes. We keep a stack of dry cloth rectangles and a squirt bottle next to the changing pad. Initially we used Kissaluv’s Diaper Lotion Potion (Affiliate Link) in the spray bottle, but once that ran out I just refilled it with 1 cup witch hazel, 2 tablespoons jojoba oil, and a few drops of lavender oil.
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