Why are people making the switch back to cloth diapers?
Everyone has their own reasons. Whether it's for the environment, to save money, or for your baby's comfort, parents of the new millennium are returning to this traditional diapering method in great numbers! The number of cloth diaper and natural/organic child-care boutiques are overwhelming. Just Google cloth diaper stores/boutiques and visit one of the hundreds of little online stores that are flourishing due to its growing popularity among new parents. You may have even found this site, our products or our blog from doing just that! With a little research and practice, success with cloth diapering doesn't have to entail a lot of work and can de-bunk those myths of being old fashion and icky.
Common myths/concerns surrounding cloth diapering:
· They cost more
· They're outdated
· They're inconvenient
· They're time consuming
· They leak
· They are smelly
· They're hard to clean
· They're bad for sensitive skin
If you incorporate your laundry costs, you will still save over $2500.00 per child. Because they are re-usable, imagine saving all that money if you have another child! Cloth diapering may be old fashioned in nature because it was the first thing parent learned how to do since the dawn of time, but cloth diapers have come a long way, even in the past decade. Cloth diapers that are available now are beyond convenient. Inspired by both classic and modern design, cloth diapers are easier to use than ever before. The All-In-One diapers in particular are designed to be just as convenient as disposables. Past concerns about leakage and absorbency have been addressed and snaps and Velcro have made getting baby in and out of his/her cloth diaper quick and convenient.
Cloth diapers are in fact less smelly then disposables when cleaned properly. They require you to change your baby's diaper regularly, keeping your baby smelling fresh all day and preventing diaper rash from becoming a problem for baby's sensitive skin. Cloth diapers require cleaning every few days. If you leave them any longer, lingering ammonia smells will sour in baby's diaper pail and can absorb deep into fabrics especially synthetic blends like rayon, nylon, spandex or other microfibre blends. With proper maintenance, cloth diapers should not retain any smell after laundering (Learn about preventing and treating cloth diaper odours in the Diaper Care and Laundering section of this blog). Always choose all-natural fibres whenever possible to keep the stink at bay! Micro-fibres often need extra laundering or treatments as they can absorb moisture and bacteria easier than non-synthetic fibres.
Top 3 Reasons to make the switch
1. Its Environmentally Friendly: Help reduce your waste/chemical output for the sake of our environment
Overflowing landfills have drawn our attention to the excessive amounts of waste humans produce on a weekly basis. Disposable diapers have been the norm since the 1960s. Today, over 4 million disposable diapers are being discarded per day in Canada (1.6 billion per year) It is unsure how long exactly it will take the plastics used to fabricate disposable diapers to decompose. Some say it can be anywhere between 300-500 years, others aren't sure if they ever will!
Some argue that cloth diapers are just as harmful to our planet. They consume a lot of water when laundering, and they pollute our waters with detergents. Common detergents contain chlorine, phosphates, and EDTA which all contribute to ecological problems in our fresh water sources, as well as the ocean. Chlorine is commonly used to kill unwanted bacteria, when released into oceans, and can kill a large amount of natural bacteria needed for certain aquatic life. An abundance of chlorine has changed the chemical composition of the oceans, which could destroy the symbiotic balance of bacteria in healthy areas of water. Phosphates are used for their superior cleaning power as they eliminate the soap scum residue leftover from cleaning. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting. EDTA is used as a preservative in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is harmful to the environment and can acts as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups. Cloth diapering mom and dads have been able to debunk their negative impact on the environment by purchasing High Efficiency laundry machines and all natural detergents (like Bubby’s Bubbles TM/MC All-Natural Detergent) . HE machines generally use as little as 1/3 of the amount of water that traditional laundry machines use, so even doing a double rinse uses less water than a traditional unit might. Choosing to wash with an all-natural detergent like Bubby’s Bubbles TM/MC helps to keep unnecessary chemicals out of our waters and off of your baby's skin.
2. Its Economical: Help save yourself thousands if you stick with it!
The average baby will wear diapers for approximately two and a half years. If you have chosen to diaper with disposables, you will spend approximately $2500-$3500 on diapering products. If you have chosen to cloth diaper, you will only spend approximately $650-$950 on your diapering products!!! Your stock supply might cost you a bit, but their are alternatives to allow you to try out cloth diapering before making the plunge. Nearly every cloth diaper boutique that I have come across offers a trial service that allows you to take home 2-3 diapers of each available style for 1-4 weeks for about $20.00/week. With this, you are able to figure out what style suites your lifestyle best and purchase your stock accordingly if you wish to continue with the cloth diapers. You can also try a cloth diaper service. This is great for parents who like the idea of cloth diapering bit who don't have the time for the extra laundering. Most diaper services run for approximately $20-$30 a week. They will supply you with fresh clean diapers on a weekly basis and they will pick up and wash your used supply. If you decide to stick with a cloth diaper service, you won't save much, but it is an alternative method of trying out cloth diapering without taking the plunge.
3. Its comfortable : Keep baby as comfortable as possible
Babies are most comfortable when they are changed often. The less their delicate skin is exposed to ammonia left from urine, the less likely they are to acquire a diaper rash. Regular diaper changes are required when cloth diapering as baby always feels when he is wet. Letting baby sit in his disposable diaper (which is changed less often to save money) can expose him to heat and moisture long enough for bacteria and heat rash to thrive. Cloth diapers are typically made of cotton which is a breathable material which allows air to freely circulate, helping to prevent diaper rash.
Looking to Start slow? Here's what you will need:
Decide what kind of diaper you want.
It is recommended to have about 24 diapers available for newborn – 6 months olds. If you choose to use diaper wraps as well, 6 wraps are generally recommended. Once baby has reached 6 months, you can scale back to about an 18 diaper supply with 4 wraps. Sizes will vary between brand and style.
There are 4 cloth diaper styles to choose from.
The AIO (All –In-One): This is the easiest diaper to help transition from disposables. It doesn't require a separate cover or soaker. The only disadvantage is that they require longer drying times and are sometimes more difficult to wash effectively. An alternative to this is the AI2 (All-In-2) diapers. A separate cover is not required, but separate soakers are required. The AI2 is a little more expensive, and it does require you to remove and insert a soaker (meaning your hands get a little dirty). They wash and dry more effectively, and are still just as convenient as disposables.
Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers are simple to use. There is an outer and inner layer with a pocket between for you to stuff your absorbent insert into. The insert absorbs baby's urine and is then easily removed and replaced with a new insert. This system allows you to select the absorbency level of the pocket insert to suit your baby's expulsion. Its easy to clean and can often be less bulky (depending on the absorbency insert selected).
Fitted Diapers: These diapers look and fit like disposables. The are sized to fit snugly around baby, usually with elastic gatherings in the leg and waist. They are often held together with either snaps or Velcro. They require a separate waterproof shell, and there are some designs available where you may also include an absorbent insert. They are easy to clean and can be washed in high temperatures.
Flat and Prefold Diapers: This is the least expensive choice for parents. They require a waterproof cover, and diaper pins or a snappy to hold it together. Flat and prefolds are very absorbent, easy to launder and dry, and have multiple functions as a doubler, pocket stuffer, burp cloth and even as cleaning rags (once baby is finished with them). Word to the wise, this type of diaper can be hard to use on squirmy babies.
Once you choose your diaper style, your diaper's fibre can make all the difference in the world. Common fibres you will come across are organic cotton, hemp, wool, microfleece, and bamboo. Each fibre has its own unique absorbency ability and may require special laundering care based on material, your water type, machine type and detergent choice. We recommend looking into what makes up the cloth diapers you chose, and take the time to understand what that specific fabric needs to ensure that it continues to absorb properly. It’s also important to understand the fabric that makes up the cloth diapers you chose to understand if there are any contra-indiciations with certain soap ingredients. All of this is important to ensure that the diapers are working best for you and your child, as well as to make sure they’ll last as long as you need them!
Baby Wipes: You can continue using disposable baby wipes, or you can always opt to use reusable wipes and throw them in with your cloth diaper laundry!
Diaper Pail and liner: You will need to choose between dry pailing, wet pailing, or dry/wet pailing. I will discuss this in greater detail in the Pailing section of this blog.
Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent: It is VERY important to use detergents that are specifically designed for cloth diapers. Using one that is not safe on cloth can ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours. If you are transitioning from a commercial to a natural brand of detergent, a cloth diaper strip is always beneficial to endure to residues are left over and no chemical combining is happening
Cloth Diaper Safe baby care lotions/creams: Just like your detergent, it is critical to use lotions and creams on baby's bottom that are safe for cloth diapers . They can also ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours.
Where do I buy cloth diapers?
Cloth diapers can be purchased from any of the hundreds of online cloth diaper stores, or from a local kids' boutique. You can even try buying used cloth diapers. There is always a score to be made from Craigslist or Kijiji.
Diaper Care and Laundering
Diaper Pails: Dry vs Wet
Dry Pail: This is most common pailing method used with modern cloth diapering. Soiled cloth diapers are thrown into a diaper pail that you can line with either a plastic or a re-usable nylon or polyester bag. The reusable bag is often more practical as you can throw the bag right in the wash without having to handle the diapers. If baby is breast fed, no need to worry about shaking off the mud pie. If baby is older or formula fed, you can shake the pie right in your toilet or you can purchase bio-liners that are easily removed from the cloth diaper and may also be tossed straight in the toilet. If you want to mix up your pail as a wet/dry pail, you can rinse off the diapers as you use them and throw them in the dry pail.
Dry pails need to be changed every two days or so to keep odors and stains at bay. To help keep your pail fresh smelling, its often recommended that you sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom of the pail to absorb bad odours. You can also use a little tea tree oil (which smells great and has disinfectant properties), or you may purchase a designated Diaper Pail Freshener. NEVER USE DETERGENTS in your diaper pail. It may cause your cloth diaper fibres to breakdown. Always refer to your cloth diaper manufacturer for specific pre-treatment and washing instructions.
One concern with dry pailing is that diapers often retain stains and odors if they sit in the pail too long. Remember to launder your cloth diapers regularly to prevent odor causing bacteria to grow and flourish.
Wet Pail: Contrary to the dry pail, the wet pail is filled with water rather than a liner. A soiled diaper is tossed into the water filled pail usually after a quick hosing and/or after mud pies are shaken into the toilet. This method is often better at preventing stains from setting into your diapers and some cloth diaper users think that it smells less as well. Often a wet pail water solution is used with a combination of baking soda and essential oils to keep odours at bay. There are a few things to take into consideration before deciding to wet pail. You need a pail that has a lid that secures. As bizarre as it may seem, there have been numerous occasions where babies have drowned in wet pails from falling in (enough that every reference I could find was adamant about this warning). Another consideration is that because the diapers are soaking in water, the opportunity for bacteria to thrive is much greater with a wet pail. Diapers must be washed every couple of days in order to prevent odour causing bacteria to settle in to the diaper fibres. Wet pails are also very heavy because of the water, so it is best to have it as close to your laundry machine as possible. When preparing to launder, you must dump the water and pull apart the diapers before putting them in the washer. A pair of rubber gloves may prove helpful!
With everything else you need to focus on with being a parent, I know that adding to that list and reminding you how important it is to correctly clean their diapers, is a lot. We’re trying to help by giving you all of this information, but remember that you should be proud of yourself for all that you do for your child! And, this is just something that requires initial thought and practice, and once you get the hang of it, it will becoming like anything else in your life: something that you’re freaking great at! Bubby is here for you – if you have any questions about how our products interact with cloth diapering, please reach out!
The importance of using a cloth diaper safe detergent vs other detergents and other laundering don'ts
When using cloth diapers, the number one concern with detergents are the residues they leave behind which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours. Many detergents are heavy on oil ingredients which can be therapeutic to the skin, but which also act as a barrier for water causing leaks. Residues are more likely to develop in fabrics made from polyester than in diapers made from natural fibres. Residues are caused by using too much detergent, using a detergent with additives/oils, not using enough water to wash/rinse, not using enough detergent, and dryer sheets. There is a growing concern with HE laundry machine users because there is an increased chance of acquiring a urine residue. This is a result of not using enough detergent and/or not using enough water to wash out and rinse the detergent. You will know if your diaper has a residue if your diapers stink after washing, if your diapers become discoloured, if your diapers stop absorbing liquid, if your diaper cover leaks, or if your baby develops diaper rash. If you suspect your diaper has a residue, check to make sure you are washing the diapers in enough hot water. If you cannot increase the water volume in your washing machine, just throw in fewer diapers with each load, and always do a double rinse.
There is a great debate among cloth diaper users regarding the use of baking soda in cloth diaper detergent and that soda wash based detergents should be used instead. Cloth diapers made from bamboo fibres in particular are subject to this controversy, with manufacturers promoting bamboo specific detergents. The argument against baking soda is if it is not rinsed properly, the detergent will leave a residue and break down fabrics faster because it is more acidic than other ingredients. Chemically speaking, soda wash is more acidic than baking soda and is found in the majority of all cloth diaper detergents. After many tests, Bubby’s Bubbles TM/MC All-Natural Detergent has a tried and true level of baking soda in relation to its other ingredients, harnessing a well balanced blend of odour, stain and bacteria removing ingredients with great cleaning power, naturally. However, always use your best judgement and follow up with your manufacturer if you are unsure or require more information.
Why should you launder your cloth diapers with Bubby’s Bubbles TM/MC All Natural Detergent?
Choosing the right detergent will make your cloth diapering experience go along more pleasantly as we have previously discussed with regard to residues. A common misconception is that baby laundry detergent and cloth diaper safe detergent are one and the same. Unfortunately, the pair doesn't go hand in hand as baby laundry detergents are usually filled with oils meant to moisturize baby's skin which will inevitably saturate your diapers with unwanted residue. It will also put your baby in contact with many harmful chemicals that leach onto baby's skin and eventually absorb into the blood stream. Commercial detergents in general are saturated with unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are absorbed by our bodies and the environment. We often take for granted that we can reduce pollutants in our lives and environment by taking the time to notice that we don't have to use them in order to harness the same results, especially with household cleaning.
A reminder from Bubby to all parents
Thank you for reading our blog on cloth diapering! While we do recommend using cloth diapers, I wanted to remind you that being a parent is hard. You have a lot going on. And, there are many personal reasons for choosing what you choose for your child. We support whatever choices you make. The internet world is a scary place for parents, promoting self-comparison left right and center. This blog is not intended to make parents who choose an alternative diaper method feel better or worse than any other parent out there. You are all super heroes.