This is my personal experience with 2 in cloth diapers, 15 months apart in age. My preferences, my trials and errors and what worked for me. My daughter was a long and narrow baby; my son was a buddha-bellied, sausage legged baby – so two completely different body types and, uh, areas of pee leakage possibilities.
My preference is to have unbleached Indian cotton prefolds in small and (eventually) large sizes, 3 or 4 Snappis, 3 or 4 Proraps (in each size and if I had to pick one kind), a large garbage pail with a wet bag liner and a washing machine that had hot pre-rinse and second rinse settings.
Those are the basics. I’ve tried just about everything there is, but that’s the bare-bones, utilitarian list.
Now I will expand.
If you’re buying your own prefolds, which would be economically better if you’re having more than one child to use them vs. a diaper service, there are a few things to know.
You have to wash them 6-8 times at least prior to first use. They do not absorb water until you wash all the cotton oils out. Oil+water=don’t mix. We know this. So wash, wash, wash and dry to test. If a drop of water is not immediately soaked into the prefold…wash, wash, wash…repeat.
I like the small prefolds for newborns and later as liners in the larger size for heavy wetting – as your child grows, they hold their urine longer and will let it go all at once, so this is a good thing.
Diaper liners. I LOVE the flushable Kushies diaper liners. I also love double sided fleece/terry liners. Now, these are useless until baby starts more solid poops with food, after 6 months. So, early on, don’t fret. Breast milk poop comes out in the wash as easy as….well, as yogurt would. Except it stains. But more on that later. The fleece liners suck the moisture through to the diaper and the poop just peels off into the toilet. The flushable is self-explanatory. Either is not for extra urine absorption.
Fasteners. Snappis are the best invention. No pins! They have pokey little plastic teeth that snag the diaper. You have your baby down, you snag one side with the Snappy, pull to the other side, snag that, then just pull down the middle part to snag the bottom. Easy peasy. I grew up using pins on my siblings and can do it…and it’s good to have some around; they’re handy. But Snappis are awesome and there’s no stabbing of you or the baby.
Here’s a newborn in an Aristocrat.
As you can see, even the smallest size was pretty big on an 8 lbs baby, but nothing will get through these things. She could leak pee or poop through her prefold underneath, but it would never go anywhere else. They do take extra care. You have to wash them with Eucalan and re-add lanolin periodically. I just used the tube of Lansinoh lanoline I used for breastfeeding. Green Mountain has good instructions. So, bullet-proof but bulky, warm and a bit high maintenance.
Proraps are your best bang for your buck. In fact, I found another mother’s rundown on the pros/cons on Proraps Vs. Bummis (see Heather Sanders post) and I agree with it all except her preference! If I had to pick one, a Proraps is more bullet-proof, but they’re not as pretty and they probably won’t last more than 2 babies. They’re a thinner PUL that’s not as ‘breathable’ I’d say, compared to Bummis, and they can cinch up tighter.
Bummis are way cuter, and the PUL fabric is thicker – making it stiffer and harder to size. Also, as the mother above mentions, they can wick moisture out a bit on the side seams. They do have a handy fold-over on the inside which Proraps does not that keeps the top of your prefold in.
Here’s a photo of Hazel at about 4-5 months in a Bummis Whisper Wrap.
I don’t quite recall but it looks like she’s got a single prefold on underneath.
The Stacinator was also bullet-proof–nothing got out of that puppy. It was also washer/dryer friendly without any special attention. However, it is very bulky and warm.
Hazel with a Stacinator on under pants:
I’ve had an Imse Vimse swim diaper and I found they run much too ‘skinny’ for my kids. Here’s a photo of Alex and you can see it cutting into his ample thighs. If I recall, I got one of the largest sizes – so, they just don’t work for my pudgy babies.
All In Ones. I’ve had about a dozen or so Kissaluvs and they’re great, I just don’t like not reusing the covers. You use them like you would disposables, and it’s just not pragmatic enough for my personal taste. Here’s a photo of Alex with a Kissaluvs with extra liners. Very bulky – he was a power wetter!
Washing. I like Charlie’s Soap and Biokleen detergents. They don’t have any additives that mess with the absorbency of the diapers. Anything that says brighteners, oils, scent, etc. is bad. In face, those are the ONLY detergents I trust with diapers, personally.
Stains. Biokleen Bac-out is the shit. Or, rather, it’s the only thing that takes it out. If you put Bac-out Odor and Stain Eliminator on a poop stain before you wash and dry, it’s your best bet for it not setting in the fabric.
Odors. White vinegar. Breast milk poop isn’t usually stinky, but it happens. But if you find that pee smell lurking, vinegar is a neutralizer. I just put a cup in the rinse cycle of my diapers and/or covers.
Diaper pail. do not soak your diapers! They’re cotton. They will rot. Just do laundry every day or every other day. A small load of diapers isn’t a big deal. Really. It’s as easy as feeding the cats. Just throw the diapers in with the pail liner and the covers (with the velcro down) and walk away. Throw the diapers in the dryer and hang the covers and liner. I find an extra liner is a good idea. I wish this IKEA hanging dryer was around when I was cloth diapering! Oh, I’ve never needed or wanted a sprayer, but that’s just me.
Well, that’s my verbose rundown on cloth diapers!