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The decision to cloth diaper can be a daunting one. Where does one start? Since most of us have had little to no experience with them, we aren't familiar with how they work. Most of us know where to buy disposable diapers and can figure out how to put them on a baby, but what about cloth? I have to admit: I researched cloth diapers for probably six months before I took the plunge and really got serious about using them. I graduated from a research-based university seven years ago, and it's amazing to me how the skills I learned are now being used to figure out the intricacies of diapers. Who would have thought, right? My goal for the rest of you is to give you a one-stop place to find everything you need to get started cloth diapering...without the months of research I had to do! First, a little background to set the stage. Why Cloth Diaper? I hear this question a zillion times. In fact, my baby's neurologist asked this very question in an incredulous tone. "Are you doing it for green reasons," he inquired. "Yes, and a few other reasons as well," I answered. There are a few of them, actually. 1. Money The bottom line is that you're going to save literally thousands of dollars (on just one kid) cloth diapering. The savings is really that profound. Now, if you go on to have more kids, you can use the cloth diapering "stash" you already have and save even more money. Do you see how great the money-saving aspect is? Moving onwards. 2. Environment Regardless of your views on things like global warming and environmental issues, I think we can all agree that a healthy, clean, safe environment is in the best interest of us all. The environmental impact of disposable diapers is disturbing, and yet it is relatively unknown by most unsuspecting consumers. Here are the basic arguments: Cloth: laundering requires the use of water and detergent which can have an impact on the environment. It also requires energy (hot water) for washing.

Disposables: uses tons of resources to make. Sits in landfills for hundreds of years, breeding nasty things. Costs a lot of money. Cuts down trees. Uses chemicals and potentially toxic ingredients that may be bad for the baby's skin in the long-run. How to make sure your cloth diapering leaves a minimal environmental footprint? Use biodegradable, earth-friendly detergent, and dry diapers on a clothes line (sunshine is better for getting stains out anyway). 3. Gentler on Sensitive Skin Many families use cloth diapers simply because their children had allergic reactions to disposable diapers. Common Objections to Cloth Diapering 1. It's too messy. Let's be real. When you have a baby, dealing with poop becomes as normal to you as breathing, walking, talking... But the good news is that breast milk poop is water-soluble, so you simply have to throw the poopy diapers in the wash and that's it. Yes, that's really it. Many people have difficulty wrapping their minds around this one. Toddler poop or anything other than breast milk poop will need to be dunked (like in a toilet), but that shouldn't be too difficult. They sell sprayers that can be attached to your toilet to make it super simple. If you have a diaper service, this objection obviously won't be a problem at all. I also want to add that the only "blow-out" I've had so far was with a disposable. 2. It's too hard I put a cloth diaper on my preemie in two seconds flat. If you don't want to fold a diaper and hassle with a pin or snappi, you can use all-in-ones that are as easy as using a disposable. We'll talk about all of these in a bit. 3. It's too expensive to start You can start with just what you need; that's what I did! I got enough to diaper my newborn and slowly built my stash. Also, you can join cloth diapering groups online and buy second-hand diapers. This is an excellent way to build your stash cheaply. If you're able to sew, you can also make your own cloth diapers. There are many options. I'll give you some nifty links later on. Different Types of Cloth Diapers Prefolds: flat and require a cover and a snappi or clothes pin. It requires folding, but is the easiest to dry. All-in-Ones: just like a disposable diaper, only it's reusable! These are the easiest and most "daddy friendly." They don't require using a prefold and a cover. Just put it on and there you go!

One-Size: There are one-size covers and one-size all-in-ones. This simply refers to the fact that this type of diaper will grow with your baby, making it the economical choice for your cloth diapering experience. Pocket: can be "stuffed" with extra padding to make it more absorbent. Diaper Cover: Waterproof cover you put over a cloth diaper or a prefold to prevent leakage. Cloth Diaper: easy to put on (usually with snaps or Velcro), but requires a cover. How to Get Started: Frugal Budget (to start): If you don't want to spend too much, here's what I recommend: - Newborn prefolds. I use about 10 a day. I'd plan for 15 a day to be safe. Figure out how often you want to do laundry (usually people will do it about every 2-3 days) to determine how many you will buy. You will have to buy bigger sized prefolds once your baby weighs 15lbs or more. - Diaper covers. I like to rotate about 5-8. They can be wiped down easily. You might not even need that many. To save money, invest in a one-size diaper cover. You can use these as your baby grows, saving money. I like Thirsties Duo Cover Wraps. They come in two sizes: Size One: 6-18 lbs (3-8 kg) 0-9 months, and Size Two: 18-40 lbs (8-18 kg) 9-36+ months. I personally have had good experiences. In fact, I put a size one on my 5 lb preemie and it worked well! They offer snaps or velcro closure. Also, there are a few color options. Colors are vibrant and cute. - Snappis to hold together the prefold. I have 5, but personally I think I could have gotten away with 2. Big Budget: If you're in the position to spend more money on your cloth diapers, or perhaps you just want to added convenience of the more expensive diapers, here's your plan: - Bumgenius one-size. They're all you need. They also come in a few color options. How To Clean Diapers Option #1: Use a diaper service (will require you to use prefolds) Option #2: Wash them yourself In short, you want to do a cold rinse, then a hot one. Don't use detergents that are scented. To save money, line-dry the diapers outside. The sun is great for getting stains out too.

If your baby is breastfed, you can throw the entire diaper into the washer without dunking them. Breast milk poop is water-soluble. Recommended soap includes Charlie's Soap, Allen's Naturally, Mountain Green Free and Clear, Planet, and others. Storing Dirty Diapers 1) At home: if you have a diaper service, they'll provide you with a trash can. Otherwise, the best method is to get a trash can with a cover. Line it with a bag. If you're worried about smell, put a little baking soda at the bottom of the trashcan. Otherwise, you shouldn't really have any problems. 2) On the go: wetbags are designed to hold dirty cloth diapers. They are washable and very convenient. Using Ointments: Ointments cannot have direct contact with your cloth diapers, as it will affect he diaper's absorbency. You can place a strip of fleece in the diaper to avoid this problem. These can be purchased or made. To make them, simply cut strips that will fit inside the diaper. It's that simple! Other Cloth Diapering Goodies Inserts: used with pockets for extra absorbency Diaper Liners: biodegradable lining that makes cloth diapering that much easier Biosoft Flushable Diaper Liners - Large 12Ăƒâ€”7.5 Inch Sheets Cloth Wipes: you'll go through disposable wipes so fast. If you're going to be doing laundry anyway, why not use cloth wipes and save money? All you need to do is moisten them with water. It's that easy! Cloth Diaper Sprayer: This attaches to your toilet and allows you to spray down dirty diapers (when your baby starts eating solids, or if your baby takes formula). Super easy. Making Your Own Cloth Diapers (the cheapest way to cloth diaper) If you're brave, you can make your own cloth diapers. Many patterns can be made with recycled materials in your own home. I hope this will help you get started. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me and I will do my best to help! Sometimes it's nice just to have someone encourage you and relate to your experience.

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