BARE ESSENTIALS: CLOTH DIAPERING A NEWBORN.

Classes for Justin’s first semester at grad school came to a close yesterday (Yay! Awesome! You’re incredible, Justin! We did it!).  Now it’s Saturday night, he is paper writing, Finn is sleeping, and I’m partying on over here furiously typing up my innermost thoughts about diapers of the cloth persuasion.  Exciting stuff over here, friends.  So here it goes.

You know what?  Cloth diapering is so not a big deal.  It is completely doable.  The most complicated part of the entire process for me was sorting through the hundreds of forums and websites trying to figure out what insert works with what cover, what a prefold is and how it should be folded, what a pocket diaper is, blah blah blah.  So much information!  So much confusion!  Here, my friends, I am going to sum up this process.  Now let me start with this one caveat:  I have only been doing this for three months.  My baby has never eaten anything other than breastmilk, so I can’t really speak to what this experience is like with more (ahem) mature poops, but breastmilk-inspired poop is a weird, chartreuse mess that I have totally mastered.

Moving on.  Cloth diapering is awesome for a lot of reasons, but here are a few:  your bank account loves it, your baby’s butt loves it, the Earth loves it, and a cloth diaper can function as a totally hip baby fashion accessory (modeled below).  It involves a bit more work than disposables (or so I’m told) but washing diapers doesn’t take much time and quickly becomes a no-attention-required part of your routine.  You might also feel disgusted at the idea of touching a pee-soaked cloth, but in all honesty, this becomes (by far) the least of your concerns as far as gross baby-related happenings go.  Also note that these are, by nature, bulkier than disposable diapers.  What you sacrifice in size, you make up for in adorable-ness.  Just be aware that you’ll probably end up sizing up in clothing sooner.

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I’m Finnegan Francis, and I endorse this message.

Of course there are a lot of different ways that this can be done, but this is our (totally successful) set up.

1.  Prefold Diapers.  This is piece of cloth that gets folded up and pinned around your baby and soaks up all of the chaos that goes on.  Incredible piece of fabric, this thing is.  You buy these unwashed, and “treat” them by washing and drying them five times before they are ever used.  The fabric quilts up and becomes absorbent.  I bought 24 of the first size, which meant I was washing diapers every other day.

2.  Covers.  Admittedly an unconventional pairing, but I use these covers.  This is a moisture-proof shell that is switched out whenever you deem appropriate.  For us, that usually means when there is poop on it.  We also usually alternate between two covers at each change to let them dry out and stay fresh longer.  We went the Flip route because ideally they will be the only covers Finn will need from birth until he is potty trained.  The snaps allow the cover to grow with your baby.  They are also inexpensive, completely functional, and easy to use.  We have six total.  Assuming your baby doesn’t have 6 blowouts in two days, this is a good number and they get washed in the same process as the prefolds.

3.  Snappis.  Pins are a thing of the past.  This much less terrifying device holds your prefold diaper together.

4.  Doublers.  These are new to us and have proved to be life changing.  They allow for diapers to have more absorption and also have fleece on one side, making baby feel dry longer.  This means longer naps and less middle-of-the-night diaper changes.  I use one over night and one to prepare for Finn’s multi-hour midday nap, so a single six pack works great for us and our laundry schedule.

4.  Wet Bags.  This is where wet diapers and used wipes go.  We haven’t had any issues with smell because newborn baby poop doesn’t smell, so more to come on this if it ever becomes an issue.  You need two for your house (to switch back and forth between while washing) and at least one smaller one for your diaper bag.  I bought ours here.

5.  Reusable Wipes.  This can be as simple as a cut up receiving blanket or flannel.  I thought I’d need really fancy ones and put out more money on this than necessary.  Save your money here and go DIY. I’d rather have a larger quantity than less, more complex wipes.

6.  Spray Bottle & Tea Tree Oil.  The wipe solution I use is water + a couple of drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle.  Tea tree oil is antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and antibacterial, so you pretty much have your bases covered.  You’ll need one for home and a smaller one for your diaper bag.

7.  Hand Sanitizer.  No explanation needed here, right?

8.  Washer (and maybe Dryer).  Although I’m sure you laundry mat users could make it work, having your own washer feels pretty important to me on the diaper front (and general messy baby front).  Not to mention, the washing process requires you to run your diapers through three wash cycles.  That is a lot of time chillin’ at a laundry mat and a lot of quarters.  Much to my advantage, we don’t have to pay for water in our apartment complex so we’re kind of living in a best case scenario here.  A dryer is nice if you live somewhere that gets especially cold or humid but you can totally do without.

9.  Diaper Safe Detergent.  Chemicals and cloth diapers don’t mix.  Most laundry detergents are not cloth diaper safe because A) residue builds up on the fabric and they are no longer absorbent and; B) the lingering chemicals in the fabric take away from some of the effects of cloth diapers that make baby butts happy.  I was sold on this detergent when an Amazon review claimed that it got the smell out of a waste management worker’s uniform.

10.  Drying Rack.  Covers and wet bags never go in the dryer, and prefolds benefit from sunning because it removes stains, keeps things smelling good, helps your diapers last longer, and helps fight bacteria and mold.  Win win win win win.

11.  Cloth Diaper-Safe Ointments.  Although your baby is much less likely to get diaper rash, you absolutely do not want to use the typical diaper rash creams that are ok to use with disposables.  You will be very sad if you do.  Finn has incredibly sensitive skin, and most of the time coconut oil will clear up a rash.  He has had a small hand full of full blown rashes, for which I used this balm, which clears things up very quickly and is cloth diaper safe.  I totally recommend that you buy this balm because you’ll want to put it all over your face, burn it in candle form, and find yourself putting it on your baby even if he doesn’t need it because it just smells that good.

Once your baby is eating solids, the poop situation changes and your arsenal will have to be updated.  When I actually know what that means, I’ll update this posting.

Any questions?  I’d be happy to address anything I’ve left out!

Other posts in this series:  new mama bare essentials and newborn bare essentials.

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