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Cloth Diapers 101

Washing

cotton baby diapers line drying

Washing BB Cloth Diapers is pretty simple, straight forward and extremely easy. After a few weeks you'll look back at how freaked out you were about washing cloth diapers and just wonder why? BB Cloth Diapers will need to be washed once prior to their first use. Important: As soon as you take the diaper off your baby or any other time before they go in the wash fold down the outer velcro tabs so they don't stick together.

Newborn - 6 Months

At this stage we recommend a wet pail and a dry pail; the dry pail will most likely be beside the change table and the wet pail in the bathtub, bathroom, or laundry room. Pee diapers will go in the dry pail, poop diapers in the wet pail.

The Wet Pail: Newborn - 6 Months

We recommend filling the pail about 3/4's with water and adding some vinegar; the vinegar will neutralize the odor (which really isn't that bad). Before your baby is eating solids it is fine to just throw the soiled diapers directly into the wet pail without rinsing them first (of course you can give them a quick rinse and scrub in the sink if you want). On wash day drain the water into the tub or toilet (whatever is easiest) then dump the diapers along with any remaining water into the washing machine; there is no need to wring out each diaper before it goes in the wash.

The Dry Pail/Pee Diapers: 6 Months - Potty Training

The dry pail/pee diapers will be the same with the exception of the morning diaper (instructions below) and obviously there is no water in the pail.

The Wet Pail: 6 Months - Potty Training

After your baby starts eating solid foods you can keep the wet pail, now you will simply shake the poop from the pad into the toilet before tossing it in the wet pail. The diaper can most times go into the dry pail because the poop will mostly land on the pad so only the pads are going into the wet pail. If the diaper is really messy and the poop doesn't shake off you can just put the whole pad in your toilet (clean toilet) to soak for a while and scrub it off a bit before throwing it in the wet pail.

Washing

with 36 diapers you will be washing on average every 3 days, possibly every other day in the very beginning, then about every 4 days after 6 months. If for some reason (starting potty training, baby has larger pees less often) you are going more than 4 days between washing it is a good idea to pre-soak your diapers in cold water before washing. Next (this is your first step if not going longer than 4 days) wash them in hot water with about half the recommended amount of detergent unless specifically baby friendly on the longest wash cycle with the highest water level.

Instead of fabric softener use 1/4 - 1/2 cup of vinegar. Use the downy ball or fabric softener dispenser.

Drying

Throw the diapers in the dryer with a large white towel. This helps to cut down on the drying time. Your Done!

Diaper Safe Detergents

Tide, Purex, Sunlight, Norwex and many store brands and other natural detergents are good choices. Ivory snow is not a good choice because it builds up on the diapers making them less absorbent. The decision is yours do whatever you are comfortable with and you think is best for your baby. The biggest thing with detergent is to make sure it is properly rinsed out to avoid build up.

DO NOT USE BLEACH OR FABRIC SOFTENERS, BLEACH ATTACKS THE FIBERS OF YOUR COTTON DIAPERS SHORTENING THEIR LIFE AND REDUCING ABSORBENCY, FABRIC SOFTENERS BUILD UP ON THE DIAPERS CAUSING REDUCED ABSORBENCY.

Diaper Rash Creams

Avoid using diaper rash creams containing zinc oxide, they are difficult to wash out. Instead try olive oil applied with a cotton ball or a natural diaper rash cream (there are some great options). If the rash looks bad and or painful: F it use whatever cream works. It won't ruin the diapers and the cream will come out after a few washes. The most important thing is the comfort of your baby not your diapers.

What Pail Should I use

We recommend using a garbage can with a removable liner, found a good one at Walmart for about $12, buy 2. Anything with a removable liner and or detached lid is good. You don't need to spend $45 on a pail specifically for cloth diapers.

What to do about diaper pail odor?

If you are noticing an odor from your diaper pail, wash it out while the diapers are in the wash. Put in some water and a nice smelling cleaner (or vinegar, lemon), wash/rinse it out and sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom afterward. You'll figure out what works best for you.

When the morning diaper starts to stink

I would just quickly wash the overnight diaper out in the sink with whatever soap is there to get rid of the smell before putting it in the diaper pail.

When should I start to potty train?

Every baby is different but most can start around 16 months (or earlier) and be fully trained by 18-24 months. At this age their bladder is usually too small to go without an overnight diaper. It is best to wait until they can walk and tell you they need to "pee" or go "pot." Babies who wear BB Cloth Diapers understand the difference between wet and dry and will be much easier to get out of diapers than babies who wear disposables or super absorbent pocket diapers. Don't take the potty training too seriously, don't make it a stressful situation for you or your child; it will happen, just pay attention. It is a lot of work to potty train in the beginning but well worth the effort. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I started to work on potty training with my daughter around 12 months, but it was well worth it to not have to deal with diapers when she was only 18 months old.

Washing Your Covers

You will want to be easy on the covers and hand wash them to prevent cracking and tearing. By hand wash we simply mean quickly scrubbing them up in the bathroom sink using whatever soap is there (lukewarm water). After they have been washed shake them out and leave them propped up to dry quickly, near a heating vent works particularly well. In the summer line drying works very well.

Making a Decision

I think the biggest reason more people don't end up using cloth diapers is because they never made a clear and firm decision about whether or not they were going to. After watching this 12 minute video I am confident that you will have the RIGHT answer for YOU and your family. Don't forget to Take The Test HERE, it will help you in figuring out if cloth diapers are right for you.

Choosing The Right Type of Diapers

After you have decided that YES cloth diapers are right for you, your next step is going to be figuring out the TYPE of cloth diapers that will best meet your needs. Some people want super absorbent diapers in beautiful prints and others want something that is trim fitting and very easy to wash and quick to dry; there are many things to consider when choosing a type of cloth diaper. The video will show you the different types and the test will help you decide if BB's are the right type of cloth diaper for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the poop go?!?

In the beginning it goes in the wetpail and after 6 months when the baby is eating solid foods it goes in the toilet. There are more details on this in the washing instructions but basically you just shake it out into the toilet and from there you either: put it in the wet pail, or quickly scrub it in the sink then into the dry pail.

How many diapers do I need?

36. I think in terms of cloth diapers, more is better. More diapers translates to less washing/drying which means your diapers are going to last longer and you will spend less on your utilities. That being said, $400 upfront is a lot, especially during a time when you already have so much to buy; you could do it with 24, but more is easier.

Are Cloth Diapers Alot of Work?

Yes and No. They are more work in the beginning, but overall they are less work because your baby will be in diapers at least a year less than if they wore disposables. One thing that we hear again and again from our customers is how much easier it is than they thought it would be. Plus you never run out of diapers.

Will cloth cause/increase the occurrence of diaper rash?

No. The opposite is probably true. The main things in preventing diaper rash is: keeping them dry, clean, air circulation and maintaining the skins moisture. Before the introduction and eventual take over of disposables the occurrence of diaper rash was actually much lower.

What do I do when we are away from home?

Easiest solution here is to simply have a few plastic (or reusable wet bags) in your diaper bag and when you are out just put the wet or dirty diaper in the bag and deal with it when you get home. Sometimes on long road trips and planes disposables are a good idea. But for a trip to the mall, friends house etc. you will be fine to use your cloth diapers.

Will things smell worse with cloth diapers

In terms of babies and diapers; sometimes things are going to smell pretty bad. It doesn't matter if you use disposables or cloth there are going to be times when the smell makes you want to vomit. With cloth it is a little more upkeep to keep your diaper pails from smelling, but at least you are not wrapping it up in plastic and sending it to a landfill where it will take hundreds of years to decompose.

For anything washing related please see the Washing Instructions for BB Cloth Diapers

Wet Pail vs Dry pail Vs Toilet

Check out the video below for my advice on wet pails, dry pails and dunking dirty diapers in the toilet.

Top Tips To Potty Train Early

1. Start Early

People thought I was crazy when I started putting my daughter on the potty at 12 months/1 year but it worked! From 15 months on I never changed another poop diaper again. I've seen starting early work for lots of other parents too. There's this ridiculous myth that we shouldn't even start until they are 2.

I know cloth is technically more work, at least in the beginning but I'd much rather put in a little extra effort to avoid changing a 2 or 3 year olds shitty diaper.

2. Give Positive Feedback

A rebellious toddler isn't so thrilled with some clapping and enthusiastic praise but in the 12-24 month range it works wonders.

Make potty training seem like a super exciting and fun thing for your child to do!

Be Patient

You are going to need long term patience as well as short term. Short term is sitting at the potty with your child reading a book while they get the hang of things.

Long term is knowing that it's going to take a few months before your child just knows when they need to use the bathroom and does so on his or her own.

Be Consistent

Stick with it. Don't stop for a week because you had a few not so great days. Once you start potty training keep going. If you start and stop it's going to cause confusion for your child.

Expect Setbacks

Your kids going to piss on the floor, tell you after they went in their pants, tell you they have to use the potty to get out of another situation etc. Know going in that it's not just going to be smooth sailing the whole way. Knowing there are going to be setbacks will enable you to maintain a positive attitude and not get upset when they do happen.

Use Cloth Diapers

In the 50's the average age a child was potty tained was 18 months. Now, it's 37, more than double! WTF?

In the 1950's all babies wore cotton cloth diapers, flanellete, which is what our diapers are made of. Do you think it's a coincidence that babies who felt moisture and were able to feel the sensation of peeing potty trained earlier.

Disposable diapers have become more and more absorbent and efficient at wicking moisture. As this has happened potty training averages have consistently increased.

Of course the diapers are not the only factor BUT they are a big part of it.

Not all cloth diapers are equal when it comes to potty training. Pocket diapers use a fleece lining to wick moisture and a super absorbent pad to keep the baby feeling as dry as a disposable. A fantastic overnight option and when you're out running around but not the one you want your baby in the majority of the time.

The Cons of Pockets

Ok, so pocket diapers are super cute and ultra absorbent, they're all over the internet and it seems like EVERYBODY'S using them.

So what could the cons be?

  • They are BULKY. This might not seem like a big deal but a lot of parents complain about the big bubble butt caused by one size pocket, all in one and all in two.
  • They can be pretty darn expensive.
  • Stuffing and unstuffing that microfiber pad into the diaper gets pretty tedious.
  • They come with more strict washing instructions that can be pretty specific about detergents, diaper rash creams, bleach, water temperatures and dryer settings. The most durable, easy to wash diapers will be any that are 100% cotton and have a detached cover than can be washed separately.
  • They are super absorbent and wick moisure like a disposable so your baby feels dry. This is awesome for overnight, naps and outings but not so great for early potty training.

If you want more on this check out the video below. I was in the process of growing my hair out from a pixie so easy on the hair.

Why A Two Part System is Actually BETTER

I know it's counterintuitive BUT a cotton diaper and separate cover is actually easier.

1. Easier Washing

When you're diapers and covers are separate you are able to wash them separately. Now this might sound like a pain in the ass but hear me out.

With 100% cotton diapers with no attached cover to worry about damaging you can wash your diapers in hot water. You can dry them on high heat. AND you don't have to use a special detergent, you can use your regular detergent just a lesser amount. You can strip them in boilng water if they're stinky.

When the diaper and cover are one in the same you have to treat the whole thing with a lot more care because the coatings that make the cover portion waterproof breakdown, wearoff and become not so waterproof which ruins the whole thing.

If you're thinking washing covers separately is a big deal... IT'S NOT! BB's use the old school pull on covers which can quickly be rinsed off in the sink and left in the bathtub, hung up or propped over a heat register to dry. You can use whatever hand soap you have to quickly soap them up, rinse them then leave them to air dry which won't take more than an hour or two.

Our kits come with 5 covers in every size so you have enough to rotate, wait and wash three at a time and use the others while they dry. It's very simple and easy.

2. Less Bulky

The old school pull on diaper covers are super lightweight, they flatten down to nothing and don't add any bulk. Our two part BB cloth diapers are the most trim fitting one size cloth diapers available.

3. More Durable Diapers

The diapers are more durable because they are not attacted to the cover/waterproof coating. We've had customers use the same $350 diaper kit on multiple babies!

4. Easy To Put On and Take Off Moving Babies

The easiest things to get on a moving baby are the pull on diaper covers. I know snaps are all the rage right now but snapping the diapers on is a real pain. And for the actual diaper, velcro is way easier than snaps.

How To Get Him On Board With Cloth Diapering

So you've decided to join the 5-10% of parents who saying, no thanks to disposables in favor of reusable diapers.

But there's one small, ok one BIG problem...

Your partner is against the idea. He has either given you an outright "no" or he just never seems interested in discussing it.

4 Easy Steps To Getting On The Same Page:

1. Do your research

Know why you personally want to use cloth and the other common reasons for cloth diapering.
Read up on how to wash cloth diapers.
Know what to do with a wet or soiled cloth diaper at home and when you're out.
Have a rough idea of how much the inital cost will be.
This way if/when he asks you'll know the answer and it'll make cloth diapering seem as simple and striaght forward as it actually is.

2. Set aside time to discuss it

Make sure it's not when he's tired, hungry, busy with work or enjoying some downtime. Whatever you do don't bring it up when he's watching the game. Ask him in advance if he wouldn't mind discussing it later and ask when it would be a good time for him to talk. You don't want to spring it on him (this works for anything).
You could say something like, "Hey Honey, I'm unsure about which type of diapers we should use and was wondering when you would have some time to help me out with that?"

You're not springing it on him, you're not interupting him and you're not forcing him to talk about it when he doesn't want to and you're not simply informing him of your decision and telling him to deal with it.

Instead you're asking him to help you solve a problem.

You want him on board and happy with the decision because when that baby comes you're going to want his help with diaper changes and if you made the decision to go cloth against his wishes he'll be much less likely to pitch in at change time.

3. Discuss

When it's time to talk about your diapering choices start by telling him that there are two main options: disposable or cloth. Let him know you're interested in cloth and then explain to him why. Get to the point quickly, this really isn't something you need to drag out.

If you're super eco-conscious and he's not but he loves saving money than lead with the financial savings. You can let him know that you love the fact that cloth diapers don't sit in landfills for hundreds of years, that they aren't filled with cancer causing chemicals, that babies diapered in cloth are potty trained on average 1 year earlier and whatever other reasons are most compelling to you.
In general, men are more logical creatures than women. Stick to the facts and don't get upset when he asks questions that seem like he's looking for reasons not to agree with you on cloth diapers. Just answer his questions, he's probably just troubleshooting, this is his way of figuring out if cloth really is a good idea. And since it is, if you stay calm and stick to the facts you have nothing to worry about.

4. Be Honest

Don't try to hide the fact that cloth diapers will be more work than disposables. You can point out that they will be more work but that your baby will be out of them sooner meaning less work overall.
Be honest about the upfront cost of cloth diapers. Yes you save a lot of money but cloth costs more upfront. If he's comfortable just leaving the amount you spend on diapers up to you than great! If not, talk about a reasonable amount that you're both comfortable spending.

5. Make Sure He is In Agreement

Make sure he's in agreement that cloth is the way to go.
You also want to make sure there is some discussion regarding how much he'll be helping with the diapers. Obviously he's going to be doing A LOT of diaper changes but is he going to help you wash them or maybe he'll be in charge of getting them out of the dryer, folding and putting them away.
The point here is that you talk about the things you might need him to help out with and that he's cool with that.

If he really doesn't want to use cloth than give him some time to think about it before re-visiting the topic. You want to be in agreement. If he remains strongly against than maybe you could compromise and take advantage of a two week diaper trial. Or only buy enough diapers to last a day and wash every day for a week or so to test it out.

How Cloth Diapers Can Make Breastfeeding Easier

Often times cloth diapers and breastfeeding go together. I suppose they are both the healthier, more natural option.

But how can cloth diapers help you succeed with breastfeeding?

Now this is aimed mainly at new first time moms who are breastfeeding.

Cloth makes it easier because with cloth diapers especially anything that is 100% cotton and not super absorbent you can actually count the pees.

In the hospital they tell new breastfeeding mothers to count and monitor the pees to make sure the baby is getting an adequate amount of milk.

You can't do this with disposables. The baby pees and it's immediately sucked into the gel chemical stuff that makes them so absorbent and moisture wicking. Newborn pees can be pretty small and counting them when using disposables is impossible.

A lot of new moms are pretty anxious around breastfeeding especially when it comes to making sure their baby is getting enough to eat. Being able to count and actually feel the pees can really help reduce that anxiety. And anxiety is not good for you, your baby or your milk supply.

4 Times You SHOULD Use Disposables

Let me preface this by saying: if you really can't stand the thought of your baby ever being in chemical filled non-decomposing desposable diapers there are some more natural earth friendly options. You'll have to pay more and there's a good chance you'll have to order them online but I do believe they exist.

  1. When you travel. Whether by plane or car cloth diapers can make travel a bit of a nightmare.

  2. When you're camping or on vacation. I know I've seen posts about how to cloth diaper while camping, I think it's a bad idea. If you are staying at a friends house or cabin or somewhere that you have easy access to a washer and dryer than use cloth but if not, forget it.

  3. A long day out shopping. You might want to use a couple disposables that day to lighten up your diaper bag and enable fewer changes and make it easier to deal with a poop diaper.

  4. You might have to use disposables if your child is in daycare. Some will use cloth, some won't and some will but only change your child as often as the disposable wearing children.

Ok that about covers it. Short list I know but honestly cloth is pretty easy most of the time. If you have a lifestyle where you're constantly on the go and out and about with your baby than cloth is going to be way more of a pain in the ass for you than if you were at home most of the time.

Toilet Dunking VS Spraying

Are you wondering what I'm talking about when I say toilet dunking?

When your baby is 6 months and older he/she will be eating solid foods and you will no longer want to just throw the poop diapers into the wet pail.

So, instead you throw it into the toilet. If it's a more messy/softer poop you will just leave it in the toilet to soak then come back and give it a quick scrub and wring out before putting it in the dry pail with the pee diapers. If it's not a messy poop and more solid you can just shake it off into the toilet and maybe give the diaper a quick scrub in the sink before it makes its way to the pail. Sometimes you'll be able to get away with shaking the poop into the toilet and putting the diaper directly in the pail, no soaking, no scrubbing.

If the thought of putting your hand in the toilet is just too much for you than you can buy a sprayer and hook it up to your toilet. This obviously costs more money, there is some installation required and if you have a toddler running around it could be trouble.

Toilet dunking worked for me. I'm not squeemish, I kept the toilet clean and just washed my hands afterward.

I took all of my cloth diapering advice from my mother who successfully used cloth on 3 babies. When she first told me I'd be putting my hand in the toilet I cringed but I got over that pretty quick.

The first time was the worst but after doing it a few times it didn't even phase me that I was putting my hand in the toilet. The key is to keep a clean toilet and obviously you're not going to soak a diaper in an unflushed toilet full of piss, it's going in clean water.

Most Overlooked Reason to Use Cloth Diapers

It burns more calories. I did the math once (I know I'm a bit of a loser) and if your laundry room is on a different floor all of the physical work associated with cloth diapering during the time your baby is in diapers works out to approximately 5-10lbs of burned calories! Not bad.

Shedding those unwanted pregnancy pounds can be an uphill battle. Obviously a healthy diet is going to your top ally in shedding them. But, another key component is your activity level.

By choosing to use cloth diapers you are willingly opting for something that is more work physically. It's more lifing, carrying, hand scrubbing, wringing, trips up and down the stairs, folding and putting away. All those things get you up and moving and burn calories.

Top Reasons NOT To Cloth Diaper

  1. Your partner is strongly against. This is far from ideal, you will need their help and support and you don't want them grumbling at every diaper change. Or worse, refusing to change any diapers at all because you made the executive decision to use cloth when they were against it.

  2. You are very squeemish and the thought of getting baby poop on your hands makes you throw up a little in your mouth.

  3. Your family and friends are strongly against cloth and you're not the type of person who is ok with going against the group.

  4. You can't afford the initial cost of cloth diapers and you are not intersted in making your own, searching for used diapers or kicking it old school with flats.

  5. You don't have easy access to a washing machine and dryer.

  6. You're only considering using cloth because some of your friends are doing it. You don't actually think it's a very good idea.

  7. You're always on the go, you're always out doing something and having a baby isn't about to change that.

  8. You have a short maternity leave and your daycare provider only uses disposables.

Recipe For Cloth Diaper Success

What do most successful cloth diaper users have in common?

  1. They made a clear decision to use cloth and took the plunge. They started using cloth diapers.

  2. If they started out using disposables they made the switch early.

  3. They did their research and made the decision to use cloth before their baby arrived.

  4. They had friends, family or an online community where they could go with their questions.

  5. They were confident in their ability to use cloth, to learn the necessary skills (there aren't many) and put in the extra effort required.

  6. They were honest with themselves about the fact that cloth would be more work than disposables.

  7. They made peace with the gross aspects of cloth diapering.

  8. They purchased their diapers and had them ready before their baby was born. They were prepared and committed.

  9. They had compelling reasons for deciding to use cloth. It's easier to stick with something when you have strong reasons behind it.

  10. They had lots of diapers.