A Year Of Cloth Diapering: Toddler EditionEmily Malone
I have been thinking about writing this post for a while, since I continue to get a lot of questions and emails about cloth diapering beyond the tiny baby months. Funny that it’s been almost exactly a year since I wrote my introduction to cloth diapering post, back when we were just getting started.
I won’t repeat everything I said back then, but instead I’m going to talk about what’s changed since the beginning, and how cloth diapering has changed as Cullen has gotten older. Here we go!
Storage and Disposal
I waited 2.5 months to start using cloth diapers with Cullen, mostly just because I was overwhelmed and trying to get a handle on parenthood in general. Once I felt I had most other things under control, I was ready to dive in. Back when I wrote the first post, I said we were using a hanging wet bag for diaper storage.
I quickly realized that this was not the best solution for us. The bag required two hands to unzip, and was sort of cumbersome. As Cullen got older, he also got a lot more daring, and I really needed to have (at least) one hand on him at all times. The cloth diapers are also pretty bulky when taken apart, and the wet bags didn’t hold very many at a time. I kept them to use in my diaper bag for dirty diaper or wet bathing suit storage, and they are perfect for that.
I swapped out the wet bag for a regular trash can just something cheap I got at Target with a tight-fitting lid, and easy to open with one hand. We also have a traditional diaper pail for disposables, wipes, and solid waste.
Inside the cloth diaper can, I use the Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner. These liners are gigantic and awesome. They would fit almost any size indoor trash can, and they stay in place and have held up through many many washes. I have two of the liner bags, so that there is always a clean one ready to replace when the dirty one goes into the wash!
For some reason I never got into cloth wipes just didn’t ever try. I might reconsider this with our next baby, but for now I’m happy using Seventh Generation wipes. I like having them on hand in the diaper bag to clean up sticky faces and germy hands!
One of the biggest hesitations I know a lot of new parents have with cloth diapering is dealing with POOP. A lot of people laughed and told me — just you wait until he starts solids. You’ll be running from those cloth diapers! Honestly, it is no big deal. Cullen has been eating solid food for over nine months now, and while yes we deal with diapers differently now honestly, I think it’s easier now than before.
So I’m going to get a little bit gross here. Back in the newborn days, I just pulled the inserts out of the diapers and tossed everything into the liner bag. Everything went into the washing machine poop included. I promise you, it wasn’t that gross, and it’s no different than washing muddy jeans or something. The washing machine takes care of it. But now that we’re onto solids, the poop has changed. It’s…well, poop. And I’m not going to put turds in the washing machine. I originally bought a diaper sprayer, but our bathroom is down the hall and that sounded like a lot of extra work. Then I discovered the Bummis diaper liners.
It’s just a thin sheet of tissue cut perfectly to the size of the diaper that I lay in the bottom of the clean diaper each time he gets changed. Ninety percent of the time, all poop is captured in the liner, and it can just be lifted out and thrown away (into the regular diaper pail). The other ten percent of the time, I take the diaper into the bathroom and remove whatever is left with toilet paper. Problem solved.
So the regular diaper pail gets the disposables (which we use overnight I’ll get to that), the dirty wipes, and the poopy liners. The cloth trash can just gets the cloth diapers nothing else. I will add here that I think using a regular trash can only works if it is ONLY for wet diapers (no poop). I know people who have used regular trash cans for disposables and other messy diapers, and trust me it stinks. Trash cans and diaper pails are not one and the same.
Washing the Diapers
I probably wash my diapers every 3-4 days, depending on how many I’ve used. I just remove the wet bag from the trash can and dump the whole thing into our washing machine easy as that. I turn it over and make sure the diapers come out, and then I toss the bag in at the end and wash everything together.
I wash all the cloth diapers and inserts with Rockin’ Green laundry detergent. I tried a few other brands, but this is my favorite. I always start each load with a cold rinse. Then I add detergent, and set it to the hot “sanitize” setting. It takes about two hours to wash, and they always come out smelling fresh! I have heard people complain about ammonia stink and staining, but in a year of cloth diapering we haven’t had any of these issues yet.
I throw all the diapers and liners into the dryer and dry them on a low/medium heat setting. This usually dries them just enough, without over-drying them and damaging the diapers from too much heat.
Styles and Choices
In my previous post, I talked quite a bit about the three different brands we were using, so I’ll just touch on this a little here. There are many, many different brands to choose from, and we decided to try three to have a bit of variety, and to see what worked best for Cullen.
When I first started cloth diapering, these were my least favorite. I found them to be too bulky and wide between the legs when Cullen was teeny tiny. Now at fifteen months, they are far and away my favorite. Which just goes to show that it’s good to have variety as things change and babies grow!
We have ten of these, and they are the ones I always use whenever we’ll be out for long outings. They are least likely to leak, and fit well under Cullen’s clothes. Bonus points adorable colors. Love the bright green!
We have eight of these. I loved these when Cullen was really small because they seemed to fit his little body best. I also really like that the inside is soft fleece. These days we still use these a lot, but they tend to leak faster than the others, so I don’t usually use them for long trips out of the house. That said, they are great for playing at home or napping in the crib. I am seriously coveting the new bootcamp collection with crazy adorable camouflage patterns.
We have six of these. They have worked well for all ages, and for a long time we used them exclusively for overnights (until Cullen started sleeping longer and longer through the night). I love that the velcro is fast and easy, and the insert is attached which means less sorting and stuffing. They are thicker, so they do take a little longer to dry.
We have 24 diapers total, and it definitely seems like more than enough. I usually wash them every 3 days or so, and I usually still have a few spares in the drawer on laundry day. I wish I needed more because I’d love to get new colors and patterns, but two dozen is definitely enough for now.
The Cloth Diapering Lifestyle
We’ve been using our diapers now for over a year, and I really love it. These days, Cullen probably wears 4-5 diapers a day, and one disposable for overnights. We gave up cloth diapering at night last summer because we were dealing with too many leaks causing night time wake ups. We also use disposables when we travel. But other than that we are all cloth all the time outings, play dates, afternoons at home whatever. He also wears cloth for daytime naps.
When I initially decided to try cloth diapering, I was motivated by a number of reasons environmental impact, significant $$ savings, no chemicals, etc. And other than switching to disposables for overnights, we’ve really had no problems. Of course I love all the practical reasons for cloth diapering, but one of the other reasons I enjoy it so much is that they are just so freaking ADORABLE!
They also seem really good for Cullen. In fifteen months, he’s really never had any diaper rash. A few spots here and there a few times, but nothing significant that ever lasted more than one diaper change. I also love that his bum is cushy and padded for when he tumbles and sits down.
I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s been a great choice for us. Casey has been on board from day one, and he helps out with diapers in the evenings and on weekends. One complaint I often hear is that they are too bulky under clothes. And yes, they are definitely bulkier than disposables, but I just buy a size up in most of Cullen’s pants. I mean I’d have to buy that size eventually, right? No big deal. Plus the giant butt is adorable.
I think one of the reasons a lot of people end up quitting cloth diapering is because they don’t jump in with both feet. Of course disposables are easier, and if you’re only using a few cloth diapers here and there, the laundry probably feels like a nuisance. I also think it feels really, really overwhelming before you start. It took me almost three months to work up the courage to get going!
But I’ve never looked back, and I know we’ll keep using them until Cullen is ready to try potty training (gulp). We’ll also continue to use this same set of diapers as long as they last for any future babies that might come after him! Does it get any cuter?
Anyway, that was my really long winded way of updating you guys on how things are going now that I’m cloth diapering a toddler. Cullen has grown and changed a lot since we first started, and the diapers have adjusted and continued to work through all his many stages. I hope it continues to be such a good experience as we look forward!