When I first found out I was pregnant I had some pretty solid ideas about what I saw for myself as a parent, right down to how I diaper my baby. Cloth diapering was not one of the things I thought I would ever do. For a lot of reasons, mostly because, poop is yucky. Levi didn’t want to have to come home from work (he’s a plumber, so naturally occasionally encounters poop from time to time) and have to deal with more poop. For some reason we assumed we would have less poop to deal with if we used disposable diapers. Like somehow, magically, our baby would poop less or make less of a mess when he did poop.
By the time I hit around 6 months along in my pregnancy though I started doing the number crunching and the research about environmental impacts of disposable diapers. After talking it over with Levi we both agreed that we were going to try cloth diapers. It was important to me that we both be on board with this because I was not about to handle 100% of diaper changes just because I wanted to try cloth diapers. Sadly, from what I’ve read and heard about online, there are a lot of dads who just don’t do diaper duty and for those who are really reluctant about diaper changes to begin, some flat out refuse to change cloth diapers. Yeah that just wouldn’t fly in my household and I’m thankful Levi is a very hands-on and involved parent.
There are truly so many options when it comes to cloth diapering babies these days. So many options that it can seem kind of overwhelming. Then so many schools of thought about how to care for your cloth diapers. Ahhhh! Where to begin!
For me it was ‘stick to as old school as possible’ to hopefully avoid some of the common issues with modern cloth diapers. The cloth diaper solutions that we started out with when Jonas was a little baby have evolved into a different system now that he is almost one-and-a-half years old. Research, learning new things, and becoming slightly obsessed with diapers and diaper laundry has all sort of contributed to that.
This post addresses the diapering options that we chose for our family. In an upcoming post I’ll address how we launder our cloth diapers, so stay tuned for that one.
Phase 1 – Newborn Disposables
I had actually anticipated using disposable diapers for maybe one week while we got settled at home and during that first newborn meconium poop stage. Once that phase was done I fully anticipated starting right into our cloth stash. I had expected to have a big baby. I’m not really sure why I assumed the baby was going to be big but it was a surprise when Jonas was just barely over 6 lbs when he was born. He lost quite a bit of weight in the first week of his life and we had a little baby on our hands who did not fit into the cloth diapers we had ready to go. As much as I wanted to use cloth from the outset I couldn’t justify buying more cloth diapers for a short period in his little life as I knew he was going to grow quickly out of them. Instead of using disposable diapers for just a week, we ended up using them for about a month or so, maybe 6 weeks.
Phase 2 – Prefolds and PUL
Once Jonas was finally big enough we started using our cloth diapers. I chose Green Mountain Diapers (GMD) unbleached cotton prefolds in size small (yellow stitching) paired with Thirsties DuoWrap PUL covers in size 1. We used a Snappi to fasten the prefolds on Jonas. (PS: Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my review of Snappi diaper fasteners and a giveaway!) While Jonas was a tiny little guy we primarily used the jelly-roll fold to make sure the runny breastfeed poop stayed contained. Whatever didn’t stay inside the diaper was caught easily by the double gussets of the Thirsties covers, though due to the unfortunate design of white edging on their gussets, this often times was left with stains. Jonas was never a super heavy wetter so we didn’t need tons of extra inserts or doublers. Once Jonas was getting bigger in this size we stopped using a Snappi and fastening the diaper to him but instead folded it in three (often referred to as trifold) and laid it in the cover and put it on him. I found this was a nice trim fit as he was growing. We continued to use the size small prefolds and size 1 covers until Jonas was probably 7 or 8 months old. I probably could have gotten more use out of this size but I was anxious to get into the new covers because of the cute patterns.
We used GMD unbleached cotton prefolds in size medium (red stitching) paired with Thirsties DuoWrap PUL covers in size 2. We also had a few one-size Rumparooz PUL covers on hand but because Jonas was always a smaller baby I found the one-size diaper covers tended to carry a lot of extra bulky fabric when snapped on the smallest rise. I loved the thickness of the PUL and the patterns but the fit just wasn’t ideal for Jonas and we reached for our Rumparooz much less than our Thirsties. As for the prefolds, we started Snappi-ing the diapers on Jonas again as they were quite big on him to just trifold and lay in the covers. We either did a newspaper fold or the good old jelly-roll fold even though by now he was on solids and therefore had less runny poops. By the time Jonas hit about 1 year old we started having issues with the prefolds not having enough absorbency now that he was peeing more volume. Jonas was soaking through and leaking even through the PUL. I needed to add extra boosters and inserts to his diapers. We had Thirsties hemp inserts, Applecheeks bamboo inserts, and AMP bamboo boosters. The hemp inserts were the most absorbent out of the three. Despite the success we had with absorbency with the boosters, his diapers were starting to feel a bit bulky with the way they were laying in the PUL cover and so we began exploring fitted diapers as a potential option.
During this phase of our cloth diapering we also dabbled a bit with some pocket diapers from AlvaBaby. I was not a fan of pocket diapers in general. These particular diapers come with microfibre inserts and we had nothing but issues with compression leaks. I also found that the inserts were more difficult to get truly clean and therefore never reached for them and later sold them.
I also kept three hybrid diapers in the stash for easy grab-and-go for the diaper bag. We chose L’il Helpers hybrid diapers with charcoal bamboo snap-in inserts. We liked these diapers for the convenience of using while we were out and about and they laundered up nicely.
Additionally, we also used good old fashioned flour sack towels for those days where I let the diaper laundry get a bit behind and we ran out of prefolds. I still have my stash of flour sack towels and though they don’t get much use on the bum these days I have been putting them to use all throughout the house for cleaning.
Phase 3 – Fitteds and Wool
Early on in our cloth diapering adventure I heard about wool as a cloth diapering solution. It intrigued me but I wasn’t about to spend the money on wool covers because “ain’t nobody got time for wool care”. I convinced my sister-in-law to knit me a wool cover to give it a try. She made three different sized covers and we used them while we were at home but I couldn’t seem to get the lanolizing right and the wool care kind of scared me so they never really got the use they deserved. Still, I’d check out these pictures of adorable wool pants and shorts on Instagram and the idea that I could just put a wool pant on Jonas and that be his diaper cover and his pants was really intriguing to me. I just couldn’t justify the cost involved and couldn’t figure out how it would really work for our family. I put my dreams of wool on the back burner.
Meantime, we were starting to have some absorbency issues with using just prefolds, like I mentioned above. I had decided to give some of the fitted diapers a try. I would have probably ordered GMD fitted diapers but the Canadian dollar was doing poorly and I didn’t know if I wanted to commit to a whole stash of fitted diapers just yet. So I ordered a sustainablebabyish|sloomb snapless multi fitted and a sustainablebabyish|sloomb overnight bamboo fitted (OBF) from a Canadian retailer to see how they held up. I figured I’d try those and if they didn’t work I would try a Bummi’s dimpled fitted and keep working my way through the different brands. I didn’t have to keep searching though. I fell in love with both the snapless fitted and the OBF. Soft, squishy, fits my baby perfectly and absorbent without tons of bulk. I was sold.
Excuse the blurry photo. It is so much harder to take a picture of this kid now that he’s so active. He’s always on the go. But, those boots though!
Around this same time I returned to pining after wool. I was part of the sustainablebabyish|sloomb chat group on Facebook and decided I’d take the plunge and buy a pair of basewoolies and test out how they work for us. I was having a hard time finding a retailer in Canada that sold basewoolies so reached out to the group for guidance on where to buy. I found out that basewoolies are a “sloomb exclusive” meaning they are only sold by sloomb directly, not through any retailers. Shipping to Canada is not cheap and the dollar was doing poorly so I figured it just wasn’t meant to be. Lo and behold a Facebook friend of mine (who I had lost touch with because we both moved in opposite directions across the country), was also a member of this sloomb chat group. She messaged me excited that I was into cloth diapering and wool. I told her I’d been pining after wool but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet because I was sketchy about the cost. She offered to loan me a pair to try out but I just couldn’t take her up on the offer. I was too worried about my baby or dog or cat destroying it and I’d feel terrible. I told her that if she had any neutral or boyish coloured woolies that she was selling to let me know first. A couple weeks later she messaged me about a pair of basewoolies she wanted to sell and was giving me first right of refusal before posting it in the buy/sell/trade. I had just the right amount she was asking for in my PayPal account. It was obviously meant to be. Little did I know this would be the start of an addicting and satisfying … thing. (My husband thinks I could call it a fetish but that seems weird when talking about baby pants.)
Since wool has kind of overtaken my cloth diapering life I decided it makes sense to write a whole other post specifically about wool diaper solutions. That post is coming shortly.
So that’s the long and short of it (mostly long, I apologize) on how we became a cloth diapering family. If you have questions about any of the brands of cloth diapers and covers I’ve mentioned in this post, please feel free to ask. I’m by no means an expert but I will try my best to help guide you in the right direction if I don’t have the answers.
Do you cloth diaper? What diapers do you use?