By: Trisha Bautista
Have you been considering shifting to cloth diapers? Before you start, here’s everything you need to know, from first-hand experience!
Why Cloth Diapers?
There are many reasons why switching to cloth diapers can be beneficial for you, your baby, and your household. Here are just some of them:
- They minimize the chemicals that come in contact with your baby’s delicate skin. We don’t realize it, but disposable diapers work because a lot of chemicals and synthetic materials are used in disposable diapers for it to contain pee and poop. Cloth diapers come in a wide range of materials that more often than not, use natural materials without the chemicals you’d find in disposables.
- Cloth Diapers can cost you much less in the long run. Cloth diapers can cost anywhere between 5 pesos to even 15 pesos per diaper (for imported brands). Multiplied by about 7 diapers a day, that as much as 5,000 pesos a month. Cloth diapers can cost anywhere from 100 pesos to 1,000 pesos or more each (for imported brands), but unlike disposable diapers, they’re a one-time purchase. Local and China brands cost about 2-300 each, and can work just well as imported ones. If you take care of them, they can last through two or even three kids.
- You lessen your carbon footprint. No disposable diapers also mean no diaper waste. Less trash to dispose of, and less trash to add to the waste in the world.
What they look like?
Most cloth diapers don’t look like the ones we usually imagine when you say cloth diapers (read: white gauze cloth held together by pins). Cloth diapers these days are actually very similar to disposable ones in terms of shape and appearance, and are usually made of two aspects: the outer shell in a waterproof material, and the inner lining in fabric that’s easy on the skin.
Types of Diapers and Need-to-know Terms
a. CD- abbreviation for “cloth diapers”, widely used in the “CD-ing” Community
b. Pocket diapers- cloth diapers that have a “pocket” inside, to hold an insert in place.
c. Inserts- think of a sanitary napkin that works by absorbing liquid. An insert is literally inserted in the diaper to soak up and absorb the liquid, usually made of a super absorbent material like organic bamboo cotton or microfiber. It goes inside the inner lining to prevent the baby’s bottom from “stewing” in liquid, avoiding diaper rash. Inserts also come in a variety of layers, catering to heavy wetters.
d. Pre-folds- pre-fold diapers are the most basic of the modern cloth diaper. They’re basically one large piece of cloth that you fold into thirds, and put inside a cover, or maneuver to fold like an old-fashioned diaper with pins.
e. Covers- this is like a disposable diaper, except it’s just an outer “shell” that’s waterproof inside and out. This can be used over prefold diapers to make them waterproof, or with an insert.
f. All-in-one – This is like a regular pocket diaper, except one end of the insert is already sewn into the diaper. Some parents prefer this because they say it’s easier than stuffing a cloth diaper.
g. All-in-two- These are like a cover, a pocket, and an insert in one, and you have the option of using a disposable insert against your baby’s bottom. Some prefer this for the convenience of cleaning out poop.
h. Boosters- an added absorbent layer for heavy wetters, or for use at night. These are usually made of Zorb of hemp.
What do I need to consider before getting started?
- Figure out how many diapers you consume in a day, and multiply it by the number of days in your laundry cycle. If you use up 7 diapers a day, and do laundry every three days, you’ll need about 21.
- Try out one or two different brands at a time so you know which work for your baby and which brands and types don’t. Pocket and cover types are the most commonly known for their ease of use.
- You can buy cloth diapers at most major department stores. Common US brands like Flip, Bum Genius, and Charlie Banana can be found in Rustan’s and other specialty baby stores; while local brands like Chino Pino, Quigle Bum, Next 9, and Baby Leaf are common in stores. You can also go for China Brands like Alva, Dandy Nappy, and Baby Land, which are available in many online stores.
- Gauge your baby’s wetting habits. Heavy wetters might need changing more often to avoid leaks, and might need extra inserts.
- Get a diaper pail or a pail with a lid to store your pre-rinsed diapers before your next laundry cycle. If you don’t want your dirty diapers to stew and stink until laundry day, pre-rinse them in running water and a little detergent as you store them before laundry day.
- Join an online group. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can connect with fellow moms and ask for their advice—there are many Facebook groups catered to mothers who are very willing to help each other out.
How do I clean them up?
- A urine-filled diaper can go for a light pre-rinse before going in the diaper pail. A poop-filled one means you’d have to flush the poop down the toilet first—a bidet or toilet shower works well for this, as the water pressure in the spray will make it easier. Pre-rinse and keep in the diaper pail until laundry day.
- Some CD users recommending washing inserts and pockets or covers separately, but some say it doesn’t matter. Pre-rinse everything on a cold water cycle so that the diapers aren’t washed along with the dirty diaper water.
- Re-set the washer and wash everything on a hot water cycle with a regular detergent, but do not use fabric softener! It’ll break down and destroy the waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL) outer shell of the diapers.
- Hang to dry in the sun or use a dryer as usual.
Going the cloth-diaper route may sound intimidating, but it’s worth it. You’ll see the difference in your cash flow and amount of waste in a month. Make sure you’re willing to do the laundry (and deal with the higher water bill), or have helpers who are willing to do the extra work, laundry wise. Once you have a system in, it’ll work like clockwork, and you’ll be glad to say goodbye to monthly diaper bills and waste!
Trisha Bautista is a writer, editor, and PR practitioner with articles published in many of the country’s top magazines and lifestyle websites. She’s a mother to an eight months-old baby boy, and is constantly trying to find the time to stay fit and healthy while balancing married life, motherhood, career, and a social life. She enjoys discovering health, fitness, beauty, and shopping hacks to maximize time and money, and loves the occasional wine night.