Monday, March 11, 2013

Making the Switch to Cloth Diapers!

Cloth Diapering: How do I make the switch from disposables?

by Guest Blogger CJ from the Crunchy Fluff Blog

Making the switch to cloth diapers can be daunting, especially if you don't know where to start. When many people think about cloth diapering they conjure up images of diaper pins and stinky diaper pails filled with bleach. While this may have been representative of cloth diapering in the past, cloth diapers have come a long way in recent years.

1. Do your research.

Before purchasing anything, take your time and get acquainted with the cloth diapers available to you. There are many different types of diapers to choose from including pre-folds, fitteds, AIOs (All-in-ones), AI2s (All-in-twos) and pocket diapers. Within these types there are even more options, sized or one size, hook and loop or snap closure, synthetic or natural fibers, be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with each type. Each diaper has its own set of advantages. Some people prefer to use different diapers for different occasions, AI2s or fitted at home but pockets or AIOs to make things easier at daycare or the babysitters. Go online; look for reviews and talk to people you know who cloth diaper.

2. Get your supplies.
There are some things you will need before you start cloth diapering. A wet bag or diaper pail is essential for storing your dirty dipes until wash day. You will probably end up needing a few wet bags, a couple to put in rotation (so you always have one available when the other is in the wash), a smaller wet bag for your diaper bag and if you use a diaper sprayer you may want an additional wet bag for the washroom so you aren't carrying wet diapers around the house.

Cloth diaper friendly laundry detergent is another must have. A good cloth diaper detergent is free of brighteners, fragrances, dyes and enzymes. Some people will use their regular laundry detergent with cloth diapers, but this is generally not recommended. Using regular detergents can limit the life span or absorbency of your diapers and it may even void your manufacturer's warranty. An exhaustive and informative list of laundry detergents can be found here.

In addition to these two items you may want to have a few more helpful, but not essential items on hand. If your little one frequently suffers from diaper rash you will probably also want to have some cloth diaper friendly diaper rash cream on hand. Diaper sprayers or diaper liners may also be on your list, depending on how you want to deal with solid waste. Dryer balls or a drying rack are a couple more items you may consider. While all of these items are helpful, they are not necessarily essential.

3. Try [a few] before you buy [a bunch].

While cloth diapers will save you money in the long run, they can be a big investment up front, the last thing you want to do is shell out a lot of cash on a set of diapers that don't end up working for you. Seeing as there are so many different choices it can be difficult to know just what will work for you. While it may be hard to refrain from buying up a whole stash of cute cloth diapers, just purchase a few of the diaper you want to try and give it a test run before stocking up. When I started cloth diapering I decided to try an AI2 cover & liner system so I purchased 2 Softbums shells and 6 inserts to try out. While this is not even a day's worth of diapers, it was enough for me to try out they system to see if it was right for me. If necessary try a few brands or types and find what is right for you.

If you are completely unsure what type of diaper you are interested in trying you may want to consider a cloth diaper trial program, which are now being offered by many cloth diaper retailers. For a small fee (and a refundable security deposit) these retailers will send you a variety of cloth diapers, usually a month's worth, for you to try. At the end of the month you can send the diapers back (after you have laundered them of course!) and purchase the type of diaper that worked for you.

4. Prep your diapers.

Different types of diapers require different types of preparation. Some diapers simply require a regular washing to make sure they are clean and ready for your little baby's bottom. Diapers and inserts that are made from natural fibers (cotton, hemp, bamboo) will require a bit more work. Prepping your natural fiber diapers will remove any natural oils from the fabric which helps to increase their absorbancy. Prepping diapers usually involves running your diapers through several wash cycles, anywhere from 3 to 10 cycles may be recommended. While this can be time consuming, it is an important step and if skipped you may find yourself with some leaky, non-absorbent diapers. Be sure to check if your diapers have any specific recommendations for prepping.

5. Try your diapers!

You are finally ready to actually test out your diapers! Don't rush it. Pick a day when you will be at home all day and have a chance to really try it out. It is best to give your diapers a test run in the day time a few times before giving them an overnight test. Depending on how heavy of a wetter your little one is, you may need to experiment with a different type of insert or diaper at night.
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