What you can see in the photo above is our small collection of cloth diapers. In fact, it is the collection of our cloth diapers that are now too small for Loulou and will soon cover a smaller baby bum, as they found a new loving home. Loulou’s bum rests comfortably in the bigger size. Which means that we are still using cloth diapers. In fact, we are using them now more than ever. If you are curious as to why we would use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, I explain it here and here.
In this post I want to share with you our cloth-diapering journey so far in hopes of encouraging you to start or keep using cloth, even if you didn’t have a smooth start. In other words, I want to share with you our mistakes, so that you can avoid them. But first let me tell you how we use cloth diapers at the moment.
We cloth diaper Loulou when we are at home, during the day. We use disposable diapers when we are out and we also use a disposable diaper during the night. If we are out of disposables, we use a cloth diaper with a wool cover that usually gets us through the night without any issues.
The environmental/ethical challenges
If you are vegan, you won’t want to use a wool cover. That’s fine, as there are alternatives. You can get a diaper with a synthetic waterproof layer. I chose not to do this, as I don’t feel that comfortable using plastic and other synthetics on Loulou. Would a plastic layer be worse than a conventional disposable diaper? Not really. They both suck in terms of environmental impact as they are made of non-renewable fossil fuels, among other disgusting things. On the other hand, wool sucks in terms of animal exploitation, no matter how “happy” the sheep are and how carefully they are shaved. There is also the option of paper/ eco-friendly disposable diapers. These are much more expensive than the regular ones. I wish we could afford them on a regular basis, but we can’t. So as you can see, each choice comes with pros and cons. You have to see what fits your family best and go with it.
We had a bad luck with our cloth diapers, as we ordered at first from one of the famous online websites and our package got lost. So Loulou was born and we didn’t have any cloth diapers the first three weeks. I decided to order from a small family business via Etsy and our order arrived fast and the quality was great. The fit, however, was not that good for Loulou. Her thighs were (and still are) quite thin and there were many leakages, which discouraged me from using them more. At the same time, I was too busy and exhausted to look for different fits, order more diaper types and send the ones that didn’t fit back. Therefore, I encourage you to order different types and sizes of diapers (a couple of each) before your kiddo is born and once you know their size, make a bigger order. It is worth the hustle. Now that Loulou is 9 months, the bigger cloth diaper size fits like a charm and there are no leakages from the sides or the top and they are really a pleasure to use.
Know how they work. And ask many questions.
When we started using our cloth diapers, I assumed I could use them like regular diapers under layers of cloths. This can be done with cloth diapers that have a synthetic waterproof layer on top, but not with our all-cotton diapers. These need to breathe. Which means that they work the best if Loulou wears a t-shirt/sweater, her cloth diaper and socks and/or leg warmers. This allows the diaper to breathe and the moisture to stay away from her skin. With a wool cover on top I can also put pants on her, but she would need to have pants two sizes bigger, as that is a lot of bulk. If I had asked for proper, detailed instructions when I ordered my diapers, I would know these things and would have saved myself tons of laundry and disappointment. Every cloth diapering system is a bit different, so don’t hesitate to ask questions! By the way, I love that our diapers are all-cotton and Loulou loves to have her thighs exposed at home. She hates pants anyway.
Washing and drying
I have been washing our cloth diapers with Neutral, a detergent for sensitive skin and especially made for people with allergies. And I have been washing them in 60 C, because babies are oh so sensitive and fragile and diapers are full of urine and poop. Then I discovered soap nuts and now I use these to wash the diapers, as it saves our fresh water resources some serious pollution. If I have poopy diapers, I still wash them at 60 C, but the ones that are not soiled I wash at 40 and they come out super clean and fresh just with the soap nuts. And I save some energy too. We don’t have a drier and I am used to line drying everything, as I come from a super warm Mediterranean country. Also, driers are super wasteful in terms of energy.
Using cloth diapers outside the house
It is absolutely doable. You need to have a wet bag with you aka a waterproof bag to store the soiled diapers. And you probably need a cloth diaper with a synthetic outer layer, otherwise you will need a wool cover on top (tons of bulk, as I wrote above) or two or three extra outfits, depending how long you will be out of the house. So, if it is doable, why am I not doing it? I am not doing it because I am an expat parent without any family help or hired help and I have to find a balance between not betraying the ideals that are important to me and my partner (eg environmental protection and respect) and maintaining my sanity.
Explaining to others about that strange diaper your kid is wearing
I would be lying if I said that our family has not been hesitant about our using cloth diapers. Here is how you can deal with negativity regarding cloth diapering: with positivity. Yup. Keep in mind that for the generation of our grandparents disposable diapers were not an option and they were seen as revolutionary, when they were introduced. That’s why your mom or grandmother feels you are taking steps backwards. They want you to be happy and have an easier life than they did. Therefore, all you need to do is explain to them that the cloth diapers of today are much different than the ones they were using and the laundry process is much easier too. Mentioning the environmental benefits might be some extra help. Personally, once I shared these facts with my own parents and in laws, I had no more negative reactions. That said, I do not and will not force them to use cloth if Loulou stays with them during holidays. I think that once they see how great they are though, they will want to 😉
If you have more questions regarding cloth diapers, feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail. I would be glad to help you out!