Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cloth Diaper Report . part one (newborn)

sleepy baby lemon in a diaper i made

I spent weeks researching cloth diapers before Baby Lemon arrived and despite all the work, I still ended up making some mistakes. So I decided to write up a post for all the people who are research obsessed like me. You can take my advice and buy what I think worked best.

Since I sew, I came to the decision to use fitted diapers with covers for the tiny baby stage. I love to sew but I don't like too much of a challenge so I didn't want to deal with the PUL (that's the waterproof stuff they make covers and wetbags out of). I can sew a fitted diaper for about 2$ (maybe less, I didn't really do the math). You can buy fitted diapers from $16 - $24. Time is money but since I'm on maternity leave, I got plenty of it.

But who wants to sew diapers when you have a wailing infant? (So more on fitteds with part three.)

We started with a set of unbleached newborn size prefold diapers and 9 covers. People will tell you that you need 4 - 6 covers but I think more is better. Your baby will be able to wear the covers for long after they're out of the newborn size prefolds so they have a lot of staying power (and so does the smell of hot pee so you really want to wash these every other diaper cycle). We use the bikini twist and it has kept in most poonamis.

You'll need about 4 Snappis as well. They are these little plastic thingys that are pretty cheap and much easier than pins. If your newborn is sedate, go for pins if you dare. My baby is Ms. Squirmalin so we "stick" with what's fastest. We keep a couple of the Snappis by the changing table and a couple with the pack n play.

I got several covers from a friend of mine but they're really inexpensive. I paid just over $1 each for the prefolds and washed them 6 times (hot/hot in the wash with a hot temp in the dryer -- that's called "prepping"). The covers I pre-washed just once because I always wash everything that goes on the baby's soft sensitive skin.

I alternated a pinch of Dawn dishwashing liquid with some eco-friendly Planet detergent we were able to find here at our Kroger. Now we just use the Planet for every wash. If your diapers start to become less absorbent, it's time to use the Dawn for a cycle or two to strip the dipes of any residue that's caused the situation.

I also bought 24 unbleached infant size prefolds. (I actually bought a mix of Indian and Chinese prefolds to see what was best and I can't even tell them apart now. They are equal). We used the newborn size during the day and the infant size at night. The infant size is a lot bigger and more absorbent. At 9 weeks, she has long outgrown the newborn dipes but still fits into the infant sizes. Our baby usually cries within seconds of wetting her diaper so we change often.

This situation lasted great for a few weeks. Then she started wanting to sleep longer at night but was waking up because she could feel the wetness -- not because she was hungry. We changed our plan of attack. In my pregnant crazy state I bought a wide variety of diapers and this is when they came in handy. We have two scenarios that work for us: 1. a Happy Heinys pocket diaper (size S) stuffed with one soaker insert and one folded up prefold and 2. a Thirsties "fab" fitted with a prefold folded up behind it (not inside it) and all wrapped up in a cover. These worked well because the layers touching the baby are synthetic fabrics so they wicked away the wetness from the baby and she felt dry. We are still using this method and the baby is now sleeping almost 8 hours a night before she wakes up. It's heaven.

Best of all: the diaper in the picture! It's the one that I made. It has a cotton velour inner layer that touches the baby so she doesn't feel dry (it's 80% cotton). The outside is two layers of flannel (an ugly one that no one sees and the cute outer print). It has a pocket for the soaker inserts. I'm making those too (they're cut but not stitched yet). I have no plans to sell these in the shop. I used a free pattern I got online and it fits perfectly and will fit for some time. It does require a cover. It's actually quite wet in this picture (on a very sleepy baby just waking up!).

I'll write up another post in a couple of weeks once we get into a new routine. We're still sticking mainly with the prefolds and covers at 9 weeks.

We have enough diapers now that we only do laundry every other day. Our washing machine has a water level setting so we only use what we need and we hang everything out on the line to dry. When it's raining, we use a drying rack in the basement.