7.29.2014

Cloth Diapering 101 with Newborns

First off, this post is intended for anyone who will be cloth diapering a newborn or who is considering taking the plunge and starting cloth diapering with their baby. What I write and share is my honest opinion. The great thing about opinions is just that... they are opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that's what makes the world great! While what I share may work for some of you and your little ones, it may not work for others. Every baby is different (trust me on this, I've had four babies) and what works really well for one baby may not work so well with another. 

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A little background: I started cloth diapering almost two years ago with my then almost 6 month old. I came across some cloth diapers at Target (Charlie Banana's) and bought a box thinking it would be really easy to cloth diaper. I was right, and wrong, all at the same time! After reading a little more about cloth diapering, I quickly realized that it was a real commitment. Not just in the money to buy all of the supplies needed for cloth diapering, but in the time as well.

With disposable diapers, it's really easy to buy a package from the store, take it home, change you baby, toss your diaper in your trash pail, and be done! With cloth diapers it's a little more complicated. Before you can even use a cloth diaper you have to wash it/pre-treat it. Then you can use it on your little one. Once it's time for a change, the soiled diaper has to be placed in a wet bag (hanging or in a pail) and you have to wash them every couple of days {I will get into my washing routine in another post} and dry them.

Once I did my research I increased my cloth diaper "stash" (all of the diapers and wipes you have) and jumped in! I will be the first to admit that the first couple of months of cloth diapering is hard. You have to figure out the best brand and style of cloth diaper for your little ones bum, then you have to learn how to put it on your baby so that it doesn't leak. (My daughter went through many outfits a day during our trial and error period -- so don't feel bad if you do too!) I finally figured it all out and now have my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE cloth diapers to use on her -- she's now two. {I will be sharing about her cloth diapers in another post too!}




Cloth diapers for newborns: What makes a cloth diaper a newborn cloth diaper? Well, there are a couple things. The most important being that it's teeny tiny!   Newborns are little (unless you have the 11 lb baby) and therefore need a tiny diaper. Some brands make an actual newborn or preemie sized diaper. Sometimes they are labeled as a newborn diaper, other times it's a size XS or size 1. Each company is different so you'll need to figure out what each individual company calls theirs.

Then there are ONE SIZE diapers. These usually have a lot of snaps along the front so that you can adjust the rise (height of the front) of your diaper. Adjusting the rise makes the leg holes larger or smaller. For a newborn you need a diaper with small leg holes so one size cloth diapers are adjustable to make the leg holes fairly small.

Okay, now that you feel hopefully a little better informed about the types of newborn diapers... let's talk about a couple individual brands.


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This is probably one of the most popular and well-known cloth diaper brands. They make ONE SIZE as well as a few fitted diapers... one being their newborn size. They also come in a few different models and styles. I have only tried two of their styles: the AIO (all in one) and the ONE SIZE pocket diapers. Since those are the only two I have tried, those are the two I will be talking about -- feel free to check out their other styles here on their website.


First, their newborn diaper. I actually wasn't planning on buying any newborn diapers because I typically have large babies (8.5+ lbs.) but when I saw that my local Babies R Us was carrying them I bought 4. They were around $15 each (not bad as far as cloth diapers go -- and about the same as every where online that sells them) and buying them in the store meant that I didn't have to pay shipping or wait to get them. Instant gratification!


You can see here {from their website} all the fun features of these newborn diapers. They are one piece (an AIO - all in one) which makes them easy for a quick change. The velcro closure on the diapers are easy and adjustable for small babies because you can overlap the velcro tabs to make the diaper even smaller. 

My baby ended up being only 7 lbs. 1 oz at birth. I know that's a pretty average baby size, but for me it was teeny! My next smallest baby weighed in at a mere 8 lbs. 6oz. so to me he was super small! These were the first cloth diapers I used on him at about 1 month old. He was still only 7 lbs. because he had trouble gaining weight. These cloth diapers fit him perfectly. They "crotch" are between his legs was a little wide, but he was (and still is) able to still curl up in his little fetal position while wearing these diapers. He is now 10 weeks old and weighs about 9 lbs 8 oz and still fits in these diapers just fine! The website says they will fit newborns up to 12 pounds... so we will see! Here is how he looks in it (at 9 lbs. 8 oz.). He still has some growing room in it! 




PROS:
Easy to Use - I love that I can use these just like a regular disposable diaper. I would suggest this to anyone just starting out in the cloth diapering world. 
Fits Well - Like I said, these fit my 7 lb. baby very well. I was able to get it tight enough around his tummy and I didn't have any gaps around his teeny, skinny legs. 
Cleans Up Nice - After washing these little guys and hanging them to dry they are perfect! If my little one happened to make a big mess in one of them I make sure to dry it outside in FULL SUN and any stains left from washing bleach out with the sun. Easy!

CONS:
Drying Time - Due to the fact that this is an AIO (all in one) diaper it has more layers to get dry. Bum Genius diapers in general need to be air dried. It helps to protect the layers of fabric from the heat of a dryer. I find that I either need to wash these at night and lay them out overnight to dry, or wash them in the morning and hang them outside to dry for at least half the day (if it's hot and sunny) or most of the day (if weather is more mild). 
• Absorbency - As a brand new baby these diapers handled the "pee load" pretty well with no leaks. Even now at 2 months they do just fine. BUT, if the diaper is already wet and my little guy poops... the poop almost always leaks out. Which is a major bummer. So, to avoid that I have to make sure to change him every two hours -- at least -- which is recommended for cloth diapering in general anyways. It is not a good nap time diaper if your newbie tends to take longer naps. 
• Durability -  I have read that some people have trouble with their velcro holding up. After using them now every day for about a month, I am beginning to see some wear on the velcro tabs. It isn't bad to where the diaper is unusable, in fact the diaper is still holding up really, REALLY well from all the use and abuse it gets from my little guy. But, the edges of the velcro tabs are starting to curl slightly. It's not a big problem because they still velcro just fine. I just wouldn't let him hang out in just a diaper because I think the curling could be a little rough on his skin if he were to touch it. I just make sure he has a onsie on! 
• Umbilical Cord Stump - I actually didn't start using cloth diapers until after he lost his stump because I didn't really want to deal with it. Lazy? Ya, I know. BUT, looking at how it fits him now and where the top of the front of the diaper is... I would venture to guess that this is not the best diaper to use if the cord stump is still attached. You could fold down the top of the diaper to expose the stump (which is what most people do) but that just seems uncomfortable. 

Now on to their 4.0 one size diapers. The one size diapers are pocket diapers. They come with two microfiber inserts -- a newborn size and a medium/large size. The large insert has a set of snaps so you can make it shorter to fit in your diaper on the medium snap size. It also has stretchy snap tabs so that you can get the diaper on nice and snug.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the fit of the one size diaper. I had read and heard other moms saying that they thought it was huge on their babies. I actually thought it fit pretty well.



I have it snapped on the smallest setting available. It still fit him pretty well and didn't seem overly bulky in my opinion. It does come up above his belly button so it's not ideal for new newborns. 



It even fit him pretty snuggly around his little baby legs. He ended up wearing the diaper for about 2.5 hours and it didn't leak. The insert was pretty soaked when I changed him, but there were no leaks out the leg holes -- which is what I was most worried about. 


I actually think he looked rather cute in it! This is a pocket style diaper with the microfiber insert. The pocket is in the back of the diaper.

PROS
Flexible fit - With four sets of snaps on either side of the front of the diaper it will fits babies of all shapes and sizes. Plus, the stretchy tabs make for a more snug fit as well as increased comfort for baby as they move around.
Fun colors and patterns - If you are the kind of mom who is looking for super cute colors and patterns, this diaper definitely can! They have so many fun colors that you will want to collect them all.. literally!
Easily Available - Since this is one of the most popular cloth diapers out there you can find it all over. There are tons of places online to find them as well as in some cloth diapering stores. Like I said, I even found this one at my local Babies R Us.

CONS
Not for Wee Ones - While this diapers boasts it is a one size fits all type diaper, it really doesn't start fitting newborns until they are about 7 pounds. But in my opinion, unless you have a chubby 7 pounder -- which isn't likely -- the waist will be too big to fit them. This diaper fits my 9 pounder perfectly on the smallest setting.
Laundering - It is easy enough to wash these guys -- just be conscious of the soap you are using -- but they can't go in the dryer. You have to line dry them. That being said, they do clean up pretty well, and you can set them out in the sun to both dry and to bleach out any stains. 


**Here is how the size between the ONE SIZE (on the smallest setting) and the newborn diapers looks.



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Charlie Banana was the brand I made my first cloth diaper purchase with. I ended up buying lots of them because I liked them so much with my daughter. When I found out I was pregnant with #4, I decided to continue cloth diapering and start building up my cloth diaper stash while I was pregnant so that I could start cloth diapering early on. I bought 3 boxes (6 diapers in a box. Each box is around $120.) for a total of 18 diapers. They are all one size diapers and have an elastic adjuster strap on the inside much like a bra strap. The strap has marking on it for small, medium, and large so that you can approximate where to put the slider. 

This is the chart from their website about their One Size measurements.
CB diapers are considered Hybrid diapers because you can use the insert and also use a disposable liner on the top of the diaper if you want to carry less with you while you are out and about. 
Instructions

Once I started cloth diapering my little guy I realized that there were other diapers out there that I actually liked much better for him. I actually played it smart and only opened and prewashed one box (6 diapers) so I was able to return the other two boxes hastle-free to diapers.com. I did keep the 6 that I washed and I have even used them a couple times. This is a one size diaper that I would say could truly be considered ONE SIZE. It fit my little guy once he reached close to 8 pounds. I had to overlap the snaps (easy since they provide snaps for you to do that) so that I could put it on the smallest setting. 

The diapers come with two sizes of microfiber inserts. A small size and a medium/large size. Even with the small size the diaper is a little bit bulky... but really all cloth diapers will be bulkier than a disposable diaper. Here is how my little guy looks sportin' his Charlie Banana at 9 lbs. 8 oz..



PROS:
One Size Fits All - At least if you have a larger baby. I wouldn't use these on a 7 lb baby but if you tend to have larger newborns then this is a great fit! Especially because they truly fit toddlers. My 2 year old still wears these and has lots of room left in them to grow! 
Super Soft - The inside of these diapers are so, SO soft! That's a definite plus with the sensitive skin of a newborn. Even after washing they stay soft. Over lots of time (like the 1.5 year old ones I have for my daughter) the inside lining starts to toughen up a little and show some pilling (the little fabric beads on fleece) but they still stay soft to the touch. 
Easy to Wash AND Dry - The Charlie Banana diapers and inserts can be machine washed AND machine dried! Yep. Put them in the dryer on a Low Heat setting and they are done in an hour or less! This is great if you don't have a super large stash because you can get a load of diapers washed and dried during nap time!
No Leaking - at least not yet! These fit him pretty well around the legs so he hasn't had any major blow outs or leak problems. Yay!! 

CONS:
Smaller Babies - this won't work if you have a baby much smaller than about 8 pounds. My little 9 pounder wears his CB's on their smallest setting and they fit him great, but much smaller and he would be swimming in it. So, if you tend to have teeny babies, or know that you will have a small baby then make sure to choose something else until they can fit these. 
Staining - I haven't had a problem with my baby yet, but with my 2 year old I get stains that won't go away. I have tried sunning them all day and the stains fade but don't entirely disappear. Poop stains also go through the lining and get onto the insert. :(

{Charlie Banana also makes and sell sized cloth diapers. I have not used any of them so I can't offer a review on them or their fit. Feel free to check them out here.}


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I had hear of the lil joey diapers, but I had never seen or used one until I came across them at Babies R Us. Again... who knew Babies R Us had cloth diapers!? These are actually some of my absolute favorite newborn cloth diapers. Here's why. 

Lil Joey cloth diapers are AIO diapers. They don't have inserts to remove which makes them easy to use and to wash. They also have sewn in gussets (the gathered material in the middle) to help keep the poop in the diaper. My little guy has had his share of nasty poopy diapers, but has yet to have a leaky one while wearing these! ♥
Lil Joey Cloth Diapers - 2 packs
They come in tons of cute colors and are sold in two packs for around $30. You can find them all over the place online. They are referred to as Preemie/Newborn diapers which were perfect for my little guy! He still wears them on the smallest snap (at 9 lbs. 8 oz.) so I know these will still last us a while. They also have a center snap to make the front lower for the cord stump so that you can use these diapers from day one! 

{He wasn't having a fun time with this diaper change because he was hungry... so he's arching his back and although it looks like his diaper is on crooked... it's not.}

PROS:
Fit - I love that I could have used these from day one (if only I hadn't stumbled across them a month after he was born). They fit him really well and are not super bulky. PLUS he looks pretty cute in it... if I do say so myself! 
Color Choice - I know there are lots of mommies out there who love all the colors of cloth diapers. I will admit that I didn't start out that way. I was determined to stick with white because it most closely resembled a disposable diaper. BUT... I am starting to get hooked on all the cute colors and patterns that are out there! 
No Leaks! - Yep, this one gets an !. I LOVE the gussets! I think they should be mandatory in all cloth diapers! 

CONS:
Drying Time -  All of the fabric from being an AIO plus the extra little bit of fabric to create those awesome gussets really adds up in drying time. These will literally have to dry either all night or all day. 
Getting the Poop Out - Those gussets again... good and bad. They hold the poop in, but they hold.. the .. poop.. in. Literally. I wash them with my regular cloth diaper method, but if they come out with some poop still on them... back in they go! I also find that when I dry them in the sun to naturally bleach them back to white I have to stretch them a little to pull out those gussets to expose all that fabric to the sun.  Not necessarily bad, just extra time and effort is all. But with four little ones to take care of... extra time isn't something I come by too often.. 

Once he outgrows his 'lil joeys I may buy a couple of their one size rumparooz diapers. I love the double gussets because they have caught all the newborn poop. 


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I LOVE my Thirsties diaper covers! They come in a couple different sizes. For the purpose of this post I am talking about the XS and S sizes of the diaper covers. The company also sells AIO diapers, fitted diapers, and diaper inserts. 

Here is the size chart from their website showing the weight range and estimated month range for the sizes of their diaper covers. Remember, that when you use a diaper cover, you need to use either a cloth diaper or a fitted cloth diaper under the cover to catch everything. 
 Here is my little guy sporting his little owl diaper cover. It is seriously the cutest little cover design ever!


The velcro tabs are double sided so they can be overlapped for a more snug fitting diaper. A definite plus for my little guy.


The covers have elastic in both the front and the back of the diaper so that the cloth diaper on the inside will stay put. It also helps to get a better fit around your babies belly. You can see in this picture (the XS cover) that the diaper cover actually sits below the belly button... so you can use it before the stump falls off!


I used to be totally intimidated by the thought of using a diaper cover and having to deal with the ectra step and the clips to hold the diaper in place. Then I realized that with these covers I could simply lay the cloth diaper (tri-folded) in the center of the cover. No pins or clips necessary!  Easy peasy!!



PROS
Ease of Use - You simply place the cloth diaper inside the gussets of the cover and you are ready to go! Once the diaper is wet, just take out the cloth diaper and toss it in your pail.
Cost - Diaper covers in general are about half the cost of a pocket or AIO diaper. Plus, you can use one cover for multiple diapers. You can choose to use the diaper service grade cloth diapers (Green Mountain or OsoCozy) or buy the cheap Gerber ones at the store. You also have the option of using fitted cloth diapers if you prefer that option.
Laundering - As long as you aren't changing a poopy diaper, you can reuse these covers for 2-3 changes. Once it's time to clean it, throw it in the wash with all your cloth diapers, and line dry it. It only takes about an hour or two to get them dry since there is no fabric to dry. The tri-fold cloth diapers (seen in my pictures) are easy to wash as well. After a trip in the washing machine you can just toss them in your dryer on a normal low heat setting. You can choose to line dry them to bleach out any stains as well.
 Overall Fit - I love that the tabs can be overlapped for tiny babies and spread apart for bigger babies. The covers also have wonderful gussets that contain any really big messes and help with getting a good tight fit around babies legs.

CONS
Availability - I do most of my cloth diaper shopping on Amazon just because it's easy and convenient. There are not a ton of color and design options there, nor on diapers.com (my other go-to site). If you look around though you can find them in lots of color options.
Staining - I have found -- with my daughter, not my son yet -- that if the elastic part around the legs gets soiled it tends to stain. Not a huge gross stain, but it doesn't completely come out in the wash. I haven't tried sun bleaching it yet, so it's possibly it may come out. But that may be something to keep in mind.

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I hope this helps anyone who has been considering starting cloth diapering. Please stay tuned for the other parts in my Cloth Diapering mini series. Posts will be cross-linked once they are up and running! 

Please feel free to ask any questions, or share comments with your own cloth diapering experiences. Like I said before, every baby is different, so every cloth diapering mama has their own preferences. My biggest suggestion is to get a couple of each style you are interested in and try them out so that you can find what works the BEST for you and your baby! 

Happy Diapering!




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