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Cloth Diaper Trial - the Results

Posted Nov 09 2009 10:01pm
Back when I was pregnant (and still clueless as to what motherhood was really all about) I made the proclamation that I would like to use cloth diapers. I think when you're pregnant you make all kinds of plans but many of them go easily by the wayside once baby arrives. Well, the whole cloth diapering thing is one that I didn't want to go sideways, so I decided to give it a wholehearted shot and I purchased a cloth diapering trial pack from a local CD company. Wednesday was the last day of my trial and with all the diapers now washed and returned safely back to Bouncing Babies, it's time to look at the results.

There are many different types of cloth diapers out there these days and the trial pack included a variety of styles and brands of cloth diapers including:

After having a consultation with a cloth diapering store a few months ago, I already knew that the pocket or all-in-one type cloth diapers would probably suit us best. So, I focused on using and getting to know the pocket and AIO diapers and didn't really give the fitteds much attention.

For those new or unfamiliar with cloth diapering, "pocket" diapers look just like disposaible diapers, but they are made out of a waterproof fabric and have a pocket in them that you stuff with various pads to absorb the wet. An "all-in-one" diaper looks and functions exactly like a disposable diaper but is made of cloth and the absorbent pad is sewn into the diaper so it is all one piece. A "fitted" cloth diaper consists of a fitted or folded absorbent diaper and then you would use a plastic or waterproof pant over top.

Different brands make their diapers out of various fabrics (microfleece, PUL, cotton, plastic), the liners are made of various materials (hemp, fleece, cotton) and the fasterners are typically snaps or velcro/aplix. Surprisingly, these details are what seemed to make the difference for me.
Anyhow, over the two weeks I gave each diaper a fair shot, using it several times, at different times of the day and also went through the whole storage and washing routine to really see what cloth diapering involves.

So first off, here are my thoughts on the actual diapers themselves:

  • Sposoeasy - these diapers have the abosorbent liner sewn into the back of the diaper so that it can flop around in the washer and dryer and therefore apparently dries faster. This was a decent feature but I didn't notice them to be any quicker drying than the others. These diapers didn't leak on me once and I found them very easy to fit because they had velcro closures. This diaper is also available in an all organic version.
  • AMP all-in-ones - these diapers were favorite overall. The fit was the best and they weren't as bulky as the others. They have a wide velcro closure at the waistband so I felt like I could get the trimmest fit with them. Best of all, they didn't leak and handled the nasty poopy messes just fine.
  • Fuzzibunz pocket diapers - these ones took some getting used to. Personally, I found the snaps harder to get a perfect fit with and at first I didn't have abosorbent enough liners in the diapers so they leaked several times until I found the right thickness of liner. These would be a bit more work since you have to pull out the liners for washing and then stuff them after, but overall they worked pretty good.
  • Monkey Doodlez - this is an all fleece AIO diaper and I found them to be bulkier than the others. In terms of effectiveness, they didn't leak and I found them easy to fit because they too had velcro closures.
  • Fitteds and one-size. I didn't really give them much attention since they just don't suit me. I admit I'm a bit lazy and having a two part system (like the fitteds) didn't suit me and the one-size diapers were just too bulky. Yes it's cool that they grow with your child, but to me they just equated to too much bulky fabric.

So what about washing? Every skeptic I've met always comments that the laundering of cloth diapers must be a huge hassle. Surprisingly it wasn't. When you change a cloth diaper, the whole dirty diaper goes into a leak proof bag and then turned out into the washing machine on laundry day. I made the mistake of not separating the liners from the pocket diapers before throwing them in the bag, so two days later I had to wade through the stinky diapers to separate all the liners. For the second day I made sure to close all the velcro tabs and remove all the liners BEFORE dropping them into the laundry bag and then I didn't even have to touch them, I just turned the laundry bag inside out into the machine and in they went.

You need to do an extra initial and final rinse when washing cloth diapers and you should always use proper detergents, but otherwise the whole bundle goes through the machine, into the dryer and out they come good as new. Marcus made some disgusting messes in those diapers and not one of them stained. The fact that these were rental diapers and had absolutely no stains attests to how well they wash.

Anyhow, overall I surprised myself with cloth diapering. I worried that maybe I'd be too lazy or too turned off by handling dirty diapers to ever consider it as a full time option. But, once I figured out the fit and washing, I didn't find them at a hassle at all.

Here are my final thoughts:
  • AIO or pocket style cloth diapers function essentially the same as disposables at each diape change. Off they go and into the bag instead of the garbage - can't get much easier than that!
  • The AMP diapers were my favorites for the very reason that they are a one step, one piece cloth diaper and they fit Marcus the best
  • Washing the diapers was pretty easy and I like that you don't have to touch the dirty diapers at all or scrub them or soak them or anything.
  • I like knowing that you're not throwing away copious amounts of garbage when using cloth diapers and the enviro-conscious side of me feels good about that.

So what about cost? Well, each cloth diaper is somewhere between $15 and $10 apiece. While you would have a high initial cost (most companies recommend having 15-20 cloth diapers for full time cd'ing) your cost over time is basically zero. I don't have the numbers handy, but even the initial cost of buying a stash of cloth diapers is nothing near what you will spend on disposables from birth to potty training. The cheap side of me likes that!

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