Learning the finer points of cloth diapering with Inge!
To all of you naysayers out there, I say “Nay!”
Ok, I stole that from “Role Models,” but nevertheless . . .Nay! I say! I can cloth diaper, whatever you say!
I just returned from a cloth diapering class taught by Inge of Green Family Living, a local sustainable goods store. What a great experience – she brought a whole assortment of cloth diapers from the Birth Center and truly helped me understand why it is that a prefold diaper is the best place to start and why all-in-one diapers may not lead to the greatest success, at least initially, in cloth diapering. Rather than going into the details myself, which are all too present in many places including her website, www.allaboutclothdiapers.com, and other diaper sites I have mentioned previously, I learned the long and short of it:
The place to start is by getting about a dozen prefold diapers that I can use for those initial wets and breast fed diapers, a pack of Snappis, and a few waterproof PUL covers, and a few “fun diapers” – one size, two in one, whatever I want to try out, to see what works. That way I’ll have enough to make it through the changes every few days and then I can put in an order for whatever else I want. Less money wasted and more ability to see what works.
I think I knew this already. But it made a big difference to try the prefolds myself ( as well as the other diapers) and to talk to Inge in person! So the first thing I did when I got home (after popping in another CD from my collection to rip to ITunes — gotta put the babies in storage) . . was head to my baby registry. Where I took off all those crazy expensive Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Geniuses that I had listed. Granted, I may go back to them, but instead of getting a stack I wrote for 1 or 2. That way we can see what works first before diving in. As I mentioned before, I am easily swayed by the overwhelming cuteness of these diapers, but practicality has to set the path at times as well.
Materials diapers are made of make a big difference, and you can tell these differences until you hold and feel the diapers – For absorbancy in a diaper, natural materials commonly used include cotton, bamboo, and hemp. Bamboo and Hemp are both more expensive than Cotton and are thought to be more absorbent with thinner profile, but the tighter weaves of the fabric may actually decrease absorbancy. There is also some question about the true eco-friendliness of bamboo because of the process by which it is made into fabric – I need to look this up in more detail. The tricky thing in hemp is making sure that there aren’t too many layers of fabric because that can make it very slow to dry – as opposed to cotton, that dries pretty easily no matter what your fabric thickness. Synthetic liner materials are commonly polyester blends and can also include microfleece – these are the materials traditionally used in the big brands Bum Genius and Fuzzi Bunz (aside from the organic cotton ones).
Another fine point is understanding the issue of absorbance with pocket diapers – While some diapers including regular prefolds with covers or fitteds with doublers is that the absorbent layer is right against the baby’s skin. Pocket diapers have a synthetic layer between the baby and the doubler (which is tucked into a pocket), through which urine is supposed to pass. The stool is supposed to sit on top of a slightly smooth surface which does wick away some moisture. Thus, pocket diapers can have some more problems with sliding, traveling poo and can also be more subject to leaks. They can also sometimes be trickier to wash because of the pockets that exist.
So how about the outer layers of cloth diapers? I already knew that these are traditionally made of PUL – again, a waterproof synthetic material that is still breathable – over the absorbent layer. I did not realize, however, that they could have different thickness that might affect the flexibility of the diaper – Inge prefers the 1 mm and did not think that there was any compromise in durability compared to 2 mm thick covers.
But out of all my concerns going into cloth diaper, washing is a biggie. We have a front loader which are considered notoriously bad for people trying cloth diapering, mainly because the water level is intentionally kept low, and diapers need lots of water in order to get clean. Inge’s advice – first of all, make sure to wash all the diapers several times before with diaper safe detergent (which is free of enzymes and optical lighteners that will interfere with the absorbency of the diaper). Then when washing, make sure to add a nice wet towel to the load to trick the washer into thinking that there are more clothes inside it than there actually are. I think that the rest will likely be trial and error to see what works. Above all it looks like another reason to avoid all-in-ones and the thick pocket diapers is that they do not always wash well in a front-loader. I guess that when it comes down to it all, we shall see what works!!
What else did I learn? That wet diapers (nonpoopy) should be stored separately from poopy diapers, and should be stored in an open container to allow air circulation, which permits evaporation and minimizes fermentation of urine, which leads to stinky, stinky diapers. Gotta sell this one to DH – Inge mentioned that I could use the old “let’s try it both ways” and let experience be our guide. What say you, DH?