Details on how to score entries by liking our page, sharing, tweeting the giveaway, etc. can be found here.
The contest starts Friday, March 7, 2014 and ends on Monday, March 10, 2014.
Details on how to score entries by liking our page, sharing, tweeting the giveaway, etc. can be found here.
The contest starts Friday, March 7, 2014 and ends on Monday, March 10, 2014.
Myth #1: Cloth diapers are difficult to use.
Reality #1: Many people envision cloth diapers of long ago, with large flats, plastic covers, and pointy pins. Today’s cloth diapers are so much simpler. PUL outers, cotton inside, and snap-in soakers are a breeze.
Myth #2: Cloth diapers are expensive.
Reality #2: Yes, cloth diapers do have a much larger price tag than disposables….when you first buy them. But you can use them again, and again, and again….Once you have spent $300-400, you can have a decent cloth diaper stash. I believe most people spend that much within a year of using disposable diapers. You can also use many diapers for subsequent children.
Myth #3: You have to touch the poop.
Reality #3: Google ‘diaper sprayers,’ ‘flushable liners,’ or ‘poop spatula.’
Myth #4: Your regular laundry will have poop on it.
Reality #4: Nobody has ever pointed out poop on my clean clothing in 11 years of cloth diapering four kids. Food and spit-up, yes. Poop, no.
Myth #5: Cloth diapering is unsanitary.
Reality #5: Provided that you remove poop from diapers of babies that are not exclusively breastfed, your washer does truly clean your diapers, just as is does your underwear, or underwear that may have been peed in by your toddler.
Myth #6: It is too much work.
Reality #6: Parenting is hard work. I’d personally rather have to throw on a load of laundry every 2-3 days than to remember to buy more diapers all the time. Or worse, have to pack my kids in the car to go out and get them if I forget. Washing diapers is a very simple process and really only takes a few minutes of your time each week.
Myth #7: You have to use a special detergent to wash cloth diapers.
Reality #7: It is true that you need to use an additive-free detergent for cloth diaper loads, however they are readily available in a variety of formulas, and most can even be used on your normal wash loads.
Myth #8: It raises your electric costs.
Reality #8: My bills have been the same whether I have been cloth diapering or not over the past decade, controlling for regular energy cost increases. I’ve never met another cloth diaperer who has claimed a spike in their electric bill.
Myth #9: It uses too much water.
Reality #9: It does use a lot of water to wash a cloth diaper load properly. However, I believe the environmental impact of that water use still comes out ahead of the output from the manufacturing, transporting, and distributing of paper diaper products. Then there is the landfill consideration. I don’t have any hard evidence, but I’d say cloth diapering wins.
Myth #10: They will make my baby’s butt look ridiculously large.
Reality #10: Babies don’t care how big their butts look. Cloth diapered bums are the cutest!
Over the years I have received the question repeatedly…what in the world do you do with your dirty diapers when you are out and about? It is a valid question, and one I had when I began cloth diapering in 2003. Back then, there were only a handful of online cloth diaper retailers, and I wasn’t a big online shopper.
I started by carrying sealable plastic storage bags for containing soiled diapers. Gross. Soggy cloth with urine and poop does not like plastic. Lesson learned.
On an online forum I learned about these fancy little inventions called wet bags. I hunted one down and bought it, and it revolutionized my cloth diapering experience.
The beauty of the wet bag is that it’s waterproof, mostly smell-proof, and washable…with your diapers! That’s right! You can throw your soiled diapers inside your wet bag, put it in your diaper bag, empty it in to your pail when you get home, and throw it in to wash all together. If someone walks by your diaper bag, they won’t be able to smell the soiled diapers either.
Now what to do with poops, you ask? Some people use the dunk & swish method if baby poops out in public and they have a restroom available. I love my diaper sprayer, so I just wrap those diapers up and deal with them when I get home. It does prevent me from just dumping everything into the pail (unless of course baby is still exclusively breastfeeding), but it only takes a few seconds.
There are many sizes and styles of wet bags available, and my personal preference is for zippered wet bags which are great for keeping smells contained. My suggestion is to invest in a few in a variety of sizes. They are useful far beyond your diapering years…for wet swimsuits, gym clothes, makeup, to keep books or electronics dry, and to keep in the car while potty training your toddler.
Whether you are birthing in the hospital, birthing center, or at home, cloth diapering the first few days after baby is born is really simple. After you have chosen your newborn stash, make sure to prep everything before baby is born. If you want to pack a bag to take with you, or a small basket to keep at your bedside at home, this information may help you.
How many diapers do I need for the first few days?
Newborn breastfed babies will generally pee and poop one time each per day of life for the first 5 or so days. So day 1: 1 pee, 1 poop. Day 2: 2 pees, 2 poops. Day 3: 3 pees, 3 poops, and so on. Most people return home from birth centers after 1 day, so packing about 6 diapers would be appropriate in this situation. Hospital stays are generally between 2 to 3 days, so a dozen diapers diapers is generally a good amount. If you are planning to stay longer, add diapers accordingly. It is also important to remember that the output baby will have the first few days will not be great in quantity, so your chances of experiencing a blowout is very slim.
What will baby’s first poops be like?
The first few bowel movements baby will pass will actually be meconium, which is a black or green, sticky, tar-like substance. Many people fear this will stain their newborn diapers and choose to use flushable liners to catch it and flush it away. I chose to spray the meconium off of our first few dirty diapers, but I was at home with a sprayer handy. You could also choose to dunk and swish it in a toilet if you are away from home. I have also heard that people have avoiding meconium staining by running a cold rinse before their wash, and others have placed their clean, wet diapers out in the sun to bleach the stains as they dry.
Breastfed babies generally start their “transition” poops between days 2 to 4 of their lives as mom’s milk is coming in. These poops are characterized by their green or yellowish-brown color and may appear grainy or seedy. At this point, I have foregone removing the debris on the diapers. Shortly after this, the typical “breastfed poop” appears. It can appear light yellow to bright green, be runny or curdy, look creamy like mustard, or even be seedy. This might change from diaper to diaper, or day to day. But the best thing about breastfed baby poop is that it is COMPLETELY WATER SOLUBLE! This means that until you add anything else to an infant’s diet, their cloth diapers DO NOT NEED TO BE RINSED! Just throw them in the pail, and wait until laundry day.
What else will I need during the first few days?
Bring a wetbag or pail liner to store your soiled cloth diapers in until you get home. Don’t worry, it won’t smell up the room. Most people claim that breastfed baby poop has very little scent to it at all. Others describe it as “curried yogurt” or “buttery popcorn.” Either way, it will not stink up any space you might be limited to.
Pack about a dozen cloth wipes. I also prefer to use a spray bottom cleaner to wipe off the stubborn sticky first poops. Throw them right into your wetbag or pail liner along with the diapers and wash them all together when you return home.
As previously mentioned, you may want to bring a few flushable liners for the first few diaper changes. After that, you may save the rest of the roll for later when baby is introduced to solid foods.
It is very unlikely that your baby will develop any kind of diaper rash during this period, so don’t worry about packing any creams, ointments, or other types of baby toiletries.
I also like to have a cloth changing pad to change baby on near my bed and in my diaper bag at all times. You may or may not need it in a hospital or birth center, but I find it useful even when changing a wiggly baby on my bed. Cloth changing pads, which can be washed with your linens, can protect your beds, couches, or floors from baby messes. They are also great for changing baby on the go.
What about the umbilical cord?
Until baby’s umbilical stump falls off, it is a good idea to fold or place diapers so that the area is clear to keep it from being rubbed or becoming damp.
Researching and choosing cloth diapers can be extremely overwhelming! Many parents become stressed out and ask what they really need to successfully cloth diaper their baby. I’ve broken it down for you here into *Must Haves* and *Might Wants*.
Diapers – 36 for newborn stage, 24-36 for infant and toddler stage. If you choose sized diapers, you will need 24-36 diapers in each size your baby reaches(some potty train before reaching the largest size. If you choose one-size diapers, you will need 24-36 total. There is a chance that you might need to replace worn items on occasion after extended use.
Wet Bag – Waterproof bags designed for storing your dirty diapers when you are on the go. They keeps messes and smells contained and come with either zipper or drawstring closure in a variety of sizes. Throw them in with your diaper load to clean. Many parents prefer to have two or more.
Cloth Wipes - I suggest 24-36. Many parents claim that they are planning on using disposable wipes, but it really makes sense to throw everything in one container rather than running with a poopy diaper to the pail and poopy wipes to the garbage. And they are useful for other things too…runny noses, bloody knees, spilled juice.
Pail Liner – Waterproof bags used to store dirty diapers at home between washes, either inside diaper pails or hanging on doorknobs or hooks. Simply push your dirty cloth diapers into your washer and push the bag in after them. Many parents prefer to have two.
Detergent – Use a cloth diaper safe detergent free of enzymes, dyes, fragrances, brighteners, and softeners.
Swim Diapers – Many public pools require washable swim diapers now as the stuff the disposables are made of clogs their filters.
Diaper Sprayer – Attaches to your toilet and makes the removal of solid waste as easy as a spray. Otherwise, you’ll need to dunk-n-swish or use a poop scraper.
Wipe solution- Designed to use in spray bottles or to otherwise moisten wipes. Made with gentle ingredients for baby’s skin. Must be diluted or mixed by you.
Wipe Spray – Pre-made spray to be applied directly onto baby bottoms and wipe clean with a cloth wipe.
Wipes Warmer – Use a solution or plain water to keep wipes moist and warm at home.
Small Wet Bag – Keep your dry wipes and spray organized and protect from leakage when you are on the go.
Flushable Liners – For easy cleaning of soiled diapers
Soakers or Doublers – Customizable to the needs of your child, these add absorbency to your diapers.
Are you trying to decide between sized or one-size diapers for your stash? Bottombumpers offers both, so here are a few pros and cons of each to consider before making your choice:
Can be more economical
Easier when more than one child is in diapers
Will last for last for a longer span of baby’s diapering time
Generally fit babies from 8-10 pounds to 30-35 pounds, depending on the shape of the baby
Provides four size settings
On the smallest settings, the folded material and inserts can create quite a bit of bulk on a tiny baby
If baby is under 8 or so pounds, one size diapers have a tendency to swallow baby up
There is a greater chance for user error when changing the settings of the diaper
May leak if not properly adjusted for baby’s size
As simple as paper diapers to use…just fasten and go
Provide a trimmer fit, especially on very tiny babies
No size adjustments needed
Price per diaper is less
May last through several children since they are used for a shorter duration
Some children potty learn before reaching the large size
Price of buying several sizes
Inability to share between two diapered children of different sizes
Require storage space when not in use
I personally love sized diapers for newborns and large toddlers, but like the one-size option for my babies between about 2 months and 2 years. Since my children grow quickly and very large, that’s a great combination for us. My newborn and large sized diapers have easily survived wear of 3-4 babies since they were used for short periods of time. My often used one-size diapers have needed some replacing along the way.
If someone other than you is caring for your baby, they might be willing to use your Bottombumpers AIOs. Here are some suggestions for speaking with them about it:
1. Take your Bottombumpers AIOs to show them rather an asking, “will you use cloth diapers?” They will see how easy they are to use compared to the flats, diaper pins, and plastic pants that would probably spring to mind if you just mentioned cloth diapers.
3. Explain that cloth wipes can be used and thrown in with dirty diapers. Give them the option of pre-moistened wipes that you provide daily or dry wipes with spray.
4. Give the caregiver choices about wet bag types. You might provide separate bags for wet and dirty diapers, so you can deal with the poop later. Some caregivers may be okay with getting rid of the poop themselves. Some may require a small wet bag for each change. If they are watching other children they may require that the wet bag hangs or zips.
5. Provide your own diaper cream and label it with your child’s name. Let them know that some diaper creams are not cloth diaper safe.
6. Tell them cloth diapers need to be changed every time they are soiled. If you have an idea of how often you change baby or how baby acts when they need a change, note this information for the caregiver.
7. Explain the situations that may cause a cloth diaper to leak.
8. Make sure they understand your washing routine if you expect them to do it.
You might be pleasantly surprised that use of your Bottombumpers can extend beyond the times you are with your baby!
There are a number of absorbent materials available for cloth diapering. Microfiber is probably the most commonly used- it allows manufacturers to keep the cost of diapers low, while providing a decent level of absorbency. After using my fair share of microfiber and finding aspects of it frustrating, I started to try some natural fiber inserts. The cotton prefolds I used in the newborn stage had been surprisingly absorbent, and my research revealed that natural fibers might actually be superior to microfiber in some situations. I discovered that natural fibers can be extremely absorbent while remaining more trim than microfiber, that they may be easier to keep clean, and that they can be gentler on a sensitive baby’s skin.
The natural fiber options I added to my stash included organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp blends. While they require more preparatory washing than microfiber, I quickly discovered that they held more urine than the microfiber inserts I was using. For example, one tri-folded bamboo viscose insert held at least as much urine as a medium/large microfiber insert. Frequently, the inserts I tried were more trim than the microfiber. Suddenly I was able to double-stuff a naptime diaper without any difficulty. Two of the bamboo viscose inserts greatly outpreformed two microfiber inserts, and were about half as thick.
Compared to cleaning microfiber, cleaning natural fibers comes easily for me. Not everyone deals with microfiber “stinkies” but at times, I did. The majority of my diaper laundry could be perfectly clean and without odor, but some of the microfiber inserts would cling to stains and scents. It was frustrating, to say the least! Some brands will suggest that bleach be used on microfiber to avoid this problem, but bleach is a cleaning product I prefer not to use. Once I started using the natural fiber inserts, I noticed that I wasn’t dealing with any unpleasant smells- and I didn’t have to use bleach, or any other harsh additives, to keep the inserts from getting stinky.
Another issue, which isn’t a problem for all families, is that of sensitive skin. My son reacts to exposed PUL easily. I have seen babies who have reactions to microsuede or microfleece, used to cover a microfiber insert. When families encounter this difficulty I suggest they give some natural fiber diapers a try, to find a fiber that won’t cause a reaction for their sensitive-skinned baby. Of course some children could have sensitivities to various natural fibers, but in general they are a good alternative for babies whose skin doesn’t tolerate the synthetic blends used in microfiber topped with microsuede or microfleece.
I decided I had to try Bottombumpers, first and foremost, because all of their designs feature natural fibers inside of the diapers. Every Bottombumpers diaper is lined with 100% organic cotton, and their soakers are also made of 100% organic cotton. Not only do Bottombumpers use this natural fiber option, they go a step further and create a stay-dry lining with a top soaker layer made from organic bamboo velour. This commitment to a fully natural fiber lining and absorbency system, coupled with a natural fiber stay-dry element, is difficult to find among national cloth diaper brands. There are lots of reasons to love the innovative design of Bottombumpers, but in my opinion, this is what makes Bottombumpers such a standout diaper.
If you are frustrated with microfiber, want to find something more trim and absorbent, or know that your baby is having reactions to synthetic fibers, you should consider trying some natural fiber inserts or diapers. Remember that you will need to do additional prep washes- anywhere from 2 to 5 for most fibers, depending upon the brand’s suggestion. (These extra prep washes help to increase the absorbency of the fibers.) Typically the cost will be slightly more than that of a synthetic fiber diaper, but the benefits can far outweigh the extra investment!
Have you tried replacing your microfiber inserts with natural fiber inserts? Did the natural fiber linings and soakers draw you to Bottombumpers diapers?
Sometimes cloth diaper terminology can be extremely confusing. One area that causes frustration for people is determining the difference between soakers and doublers and determining which they may need.
All Bottombumpers AIO diapers come with a Snap in Soaker. They are designed to be used with this system to provide absorbency inside of the waterproof outer shell made of PUL – Polyester Urethane Laminated Knit. These soakers are made with 4 layers of 100% Certified Organic Cotton and topped with Organic Bamboo Velour/Rayon, which stays soft next to baby’s delicate skin. Without the soaker, the AIO would likely leak if baby soiled it. If your soakers become worn out or stained, you can replace them with new soakers for only $5 and make the inside of your diapers like new!
Doublers are only needed regularly for babies who are heavy wetters. Other babies may need them occasionally for long periods like napping, car rides, or for overnight use. Bottombumpers doublers are made of 2 layers of 100% Certified Organic Cotton and are designed to be placed under the Snap in Soaker. They are cut trim to add extra absorbency without adding bulk that would cause a poor fit for the elastic around baby’s legs which may lead to leakage.
I normally advise people to buy about a half dozen doublers for their cloth diaper “layette,” but to find out what kind of wetter baby is before going overboard adding them to their stash. There is a strong likelihood that everyone will add doublers at some point during the cloth diapering years, but there is also a strong likelihood that most babies will be okay with the absorbency provided by the Snap in Soaker most of the time.
When I teach Cloth Diapering 101, there are a few questions that seem to pop up in every class. The topic that every family wants to discuss, in detail, is the wash routine. (A close second place- “What are all of these styles of diapers and how do they work?”) From my experiences with so many people, it seems that laundry questions and concerns are the number one barrier to a family choosing to use cloth diapers. They also tend to become the number one frustration for cloth diapering families. Perhaps this is because there is so much information online- much of it conflicting, or at least more involved than is really necessary.
I have seen some claims online that there is no need to tailor a washing routine. Having lived in three different geographic regions during my time using cloth diapers, I have to reject this “one size fits all” laundry fantasy. I have experienced the effect that different water types can have on the results of a laundry routine, and after some trials and tweaks, a theme has emerged. In my experience, a basic laundry formula exists, but special circumstances call for adjustments to the basic plan.
For me, the basic routine that has been constant from day one, is rinse – wash – rinse. I have a “traditional” (aka OLD) machine, which I love because it allows me to easily adjust the water level to the needs of any given load of diapers. In the first rinse cycle I use cold water with my machine’s extra rinse cycle. It has a short agitation period, which helps to remove the inevitable gunk on the dirty diapers. I make sure to use a high water level in this cycle. Once the spin cycle is complete, I do a washing cycle with detergent. I finish my routine with a final cold rinse and spin, to ensure that my diapers are free of lurking detergent.
There are differing opinions about what the temperature of the detergent cycle should be. When my son was born, we lived in Germany and my washing machine did not offer warm or hot water! If I wanted to use the machine to wash my diapers (as opposed to doing wash in a bathtub) I had to use cold water. I spent a lot of time fretting over this, but after lots of research I discovered that if my water temperature couldn’t be above 140 degrees farenheit, the hot water wouldn’t kill the bacteria anyway. (Science News, “The Case for Very Hot Water” http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/37933/description/The_Case_for_Very_Hot_Water ) Instead of washing in moderately-hot water in my bathtub, I opted to use the cold water detergent cycle and to sun-dry, or machine dry, my diapers. Dryer heat, or the sun’s heat and UV rays, will help to kill many microbes lurking in diapers. Bonus points to the sun for helping to remove staining, naturally!
When I returned to the US, I had the luxury of choosing between cold, warm, or hot washing cycles. Some people prefer to use the hot water option even if they know their water heater’s upper limit isn’t set high enough to kill bacteria, because the hot water makes them feel more comfortable in their wash routine. Others are of the opinion that warm water, in conjunction with machine or sun drying, is sufficient to kill germs and will be more gentle on the fibers of their diapers over time. Some people even go as far as to recalibrate their water heater so it will exceed 140 degrees farenheit. (If you choose this option, please remember that your water can scald during a shower, a bath, or dish washing and adjust the faucet accordingly!) Different diaper brands suggest different washing temperatures, which certainly can add to the confusion about which water temperature is the “right” one for your laundry. Personally, I take the middle route, opting for warm water and sunning, with occasional machine drying. I believe in making informed decisions, and understand that my choice won’t feel like the right one for every family, so in my classes I encourage people to consider the options and to choose the one that seems to be the best fit for their situation.
As I have mentioned, I prefer sunning diapers as the ultimate method of drying. But line drying can leave diapers stiff, so many families wonder if it is safe to put their diaper laundry in the dryer. In general, inserts that are free of elastics and PUL/TPU are safe in the dryer, though medium heat or lower is preferrable because repeated exposure high heat will break down fibers more quickly. Covers and items with elastic can go through dryer cycles occasionally, but again require medium or low heat to maintain the integrity of the waterproofing material or elastic long-term. In the end, will some electric dryer cycles hurt your diapers? Probably not that much. But if you hope to use the same stash for more than one child, minimizing the time the diapers spend in the electric dryer will help to keep the diapers in great condition. During the winter, I will sometimes use a combination method, where I hang my covers, pockets, all-in-ones, and hybrid shells on a drying rack by a window, and put my inserts and prefolds in the dryer.
I have tried a number of detergents and discovered that different options have worked well with different water types. In Germany our water was very average- not particularly hard or soft. I used a cloth diaper safe detergent very happily there, and it was not specially formulated for any particular water type. When I first returned to the US my son and I stayed in Pennsylvania with family for a number of weeks. My parents have well water that is treated with a house-wide water softener, which results in very soft water. (It tastes delicious, incidentally.) The detergent I used in Germany continued to work well during this time, though I discovered that I needed to use less than I had in Germany. If I used the same amount I had used overseas, I had some residual detergent in my final rinse. I decreased the amount of detergent from 2 tbsp to 1 tbsp- the amounts suggested by the manufacturer for regular and HE washers, respectively. Even though I was using a regular washing machine, the very soft water just didn’t need much detergent to get the diapers clean. It was nice to go through my detergent so slowly!
We finally settled in Colorado, where our water can only be described as horrifyingly hard. It is mineral-laden and every running of the shower leaves bright white water spots on the glass door. My old standby detergent suddenly left my diapers smelly and looking, well, not-so-fresh. I started to try samples of cloth diapering detergents specifically formulated for hard water. Some seemed to work for a little while, but none seemed to do the job quite as well as my old detergent in normal- to soft- water. I even tried non-cloth diaper detergents to see if they would help; my son (whose skin is fairly sensitive) had bad reactions and even my normal laundry didn’t seem as clean as usual. After a decent amount of frustration, some attempts at stripping, and even a foray into the world of bleach (which I generally avoid altogether) I finally figured out the trick to laundering with very hard water. Using a water softener such as Calgon can make all the difference if you have struggles with hard water laundering. This trick is especially useful if you can’t afford a whole-house water softening system. Adding some water softener to the detergent cycle can help the detergent to provide its most effective cleaning. I wish I had realized much sooner, that my hard water was preventing my detergent from doing its job!
Often people will ask me about various laundry additives such as vinegar, bleach, and tea tree oil. Full disclosure- I have tried all of these at different times in my cloth laundering journey. I had varying success with the products and overall I prefer to figure out a reliable routine that works without having to add anything that is potentially harsh on the diapers or a child’s skin. I also caution everyone to find out if an additive will influence the warranty on new diapers, and to take that into consideration before choosing to use something extra in the wash routine. In some cases it might be worth the risk- for example, I used tea tree oil on my prefolds when my newborn son had a yeast rash, and I am glad I made that decision. But that is going to be a personal risk versus reward assessment for any family.
In the end, the key to successful cloth diaper laundering is finding a routine that works for you (again, I highly recommend the basic rinse-wash-rinse method) and when troubles arise, discovering the reason for the issue. You don’t necessarily need to involve yourself in some confusing, excessive washing routine. If your root problem is the condition of your water, fix that. If your root problem is going too long between washings, adjust your laundering frequency. If your diapers hold on to ammonia, rinse them right after use (including urine-only diapers) and wash frequently- add an ammonia bouncer if better rinsing and more frequent washing doesn’t help. Don’t be afraid to ask a manufacturer, local store, or online retailer for help discovering your root issue. And as much as possible, keep it all simple! Your cloth diaper laundry should not become a major source of anxiety in your life. You’re a parent, you’ve got enough to worry about.
Susan is a cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing, homebirthing, homeschooling, natural-living mama to four boys. She has enjoyed trying a plethora of cloth diapers, carriers, and other baby products over the past decade and loves to share her experiences with others. Read More…
Becky Schreiber-Reis lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, her two and a half-year-old son, and a rescued beagle. She is an east coast transplant, who loves exploring the beautiful Rocky Mountain front range and has recently started hiking. Read More…
My name is Kristin and I live outside of sunny Phoenix, Arizona. My husband and I moved here from the Midwest about 5 years ago. At the time we were young newlyweds with nothing to hold us back. Fast forward five years, one toddler, a baby on the way, two dogs, one cat, one house, and I think something about a partridge in a pear tree and you have my current state. Read More…